Posts Tagged ‘advertising

02
Nov
07

Taking Out Ads

A recent client project required purchasing ad space in local papers. I haven’t bought ad space in more years than I care to recall, but I was startled at the cost. For example, one four column, 10.5″ ad, full color, single run, cost me not quite $650. A premium charge of $147 is included in that amount for full color. As all other local papers were similarly priced, I doubt I was cheated per se. Instead, for an industry supposedly under fire, I’m left wondering why they persist with this pricing model.

I wish I had a better understanding of the true cost of newspaper publication. If anyone knows, please share. Although, I suspect Alexander Hamilton had the right of it:

It is the advertiser who provides the paper for the subscriber. It is not to be disputed, that the publisher of a newspaper in this country, without a very exhaustive advertising support, would receive less reward for his labor than the humblest mechanic. (link)

Beyond newspapers, printing appears to be a nickel and dime operation. Package deals are rare (in my experience) and the basics that are covered don’t always offer flexibility and ala carte services add up fast. I think I’m most struck by how little this particular service has changed, comparatively speaking, since Gutenberg first contrived his press. Consider how the Internet has changed since its early days. I think it safe to say that the printing press, while improving quality and options, hasn’t perhaps seen the same advances. In fairness, however, I’ve failed to take into consideration that while the cost for bytes goes down, the cost for ink and paper goes up.

This post feels a bit jumbled, but I’m contemplating this intersection between old and new, between tangible and digital. I have a hard time reading for long periods on a computer screen, and everyone by now is well acquainted with my book love affair, but the flexibility offered by a digital world is enticing. I can create amazing things on screen that costs me time and pennies to publish to the world that would costs me thousands if printed. However, has this huge gap made us less appreciative of the amazing things we see people producing?

I started writing baffled by the cost of advertising, morphed into some random thoughts on newspapers, and ended up talking about the connection between old and new media. Now, imagine what it would cost to print this piece in a newspaper and how far in advance I’d need to submit for publication. It’s been mentioned frequently by others more well-versed than I, but how are newspapers planning to survive during the next 100 years?

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08
Oct
07

Truth in Advertising

I’m a big fan of OTC medication, mainly because the idea of going to a doctor for a headache or cold irritates me. OTCs are on my mind due to a minor illness that’s kept me preoccupied for the last 24 hours. I have less patience for the prescription drug regulations, but that’s a post for another day.

Today, I’m actually more curious about the OTCs or, more accurately, supplements that don’t necessarily line store shelves and market themselves through mini infomercials. You know the ones I’m talking about—weight loss and male “enhancement” are two categories that frequently fall in this category. They’re the modern-day descendants of patent medicines originally sold by traveling salesmen making claims about the healing power of their concoctions. I was interested to discover that “the rise of advertising in America, not coincidentally, paralleled the rise of nostrums.” (link)

The narrator in Jerome K. Jerome’s famous book, Three Men in a Boat, pointed out that,

“It is a most extraordinary thing, but I never read a patent medicine advertisement without being impelled to the conclusion that I am suffering from the particular disease therein dealt with in its most virulent form.”

Granted, the main characters in this story are a group of hypochondriacs, but doesn’t the point hold true? We’re more susceptible to believing something when we want to believe, regardless of the reality. So, here we are in the 21st century, with more information at our fingertips than ever, and we’re still willing to be seduced by the notion that something “cures.”

You won’t see many claims for formulas curing cancer or other major diseases. The FDA closely regulates/monitors such claims. However, others slip under the radar. Key words to “soften” the claims on these products include: helping, looks, appears, and reduces to name a few. By including these words, marketers can say they aren’t making a hard claim, requiring proof; they’re merely suggesting potential results. To further protect themselves, marketers also include the familiar, “Individual results may vary.”

From my viewpoint, the most seductive aspect of marketing these products is the unsaid portion. Usually, this part comes in the form of images. Before and after pictures are particularly useful when marketing weight loss products. We tend to skip over the other details like “sensible diet and exercise” and jump to the end result, believing, “I can look like that, too.” If marketers actual told the truth*, I wonder how many would chase after these quick fixes? I appreciate that advertisers do not always stand to gain by telling the truth*. However, if it became the standard instead of the exception, wouldn’t we be exposed to more quality products and experiences?

*Likely reality versus hoped-for reality.

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