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ADVERTISING   |   POSTED ON 21.03.2018

Advertising: A history of its evolution and where it is today

Advertising is one of the oldest and trusted ways for a business to grab the attention of their audience, provide information about their products and services and to build a recognisable and established brand.

From Ancient Egyptians advertising on papyrus, to the invention of the printing press in the 15th Century and the arrival of radio and television, brands and businesses now communicate with consumers more directly and instantly as technology has advanced.

At the turn of the century a new medium emerged which rapidly changed the way brands communicate with their audiences – the Internet. As industries adapt and change to the needs of today’s consumers, we take a look at how advertising has evolved, and the trends indicating where it’s heading for the future.

The golden age

The 20th Century saw the golden age of advertising as it dominated all aspects of daily life. Advertising saturated all popular media from the jingles on radio, the commercials on television and print ads in newspapers. Advertising eventually became a cultural flashpoint to reflect the day’s cultural sensibilities and now offers us a snapshot of the period they were made.

Brands created characters or used celebrity endorsements to sell their products. Characters like Mortein’s Louie the Fly or the Milkybar kid and celebrities like Paul Hogan for the Australian Tourist Commission were used to build a stronger connection with their audiences in order to sell their product or service.

While these characters aided the popular culture that surrounds advertising, their aims were always clear – to sell and advertise their product or service.

The rise of the brand in advertising

In the last few decades, advertising has moved on from simply selling. Advertising is now being used as a way to build brand awareness and to be a part of a community. Brands want to be liked by the public and they’re using their ads as promotional videos rather than straight advertising.

As the product placement becomes less prominent in advertising, the brand is the star as it positions itself as the hero to solve all of your needs that just so happens to have the right product or service to help you. The emphasis on what they’re selling is gone; the brand is now the star.

Take for instance, the successful 2007 Cadbury gorilla advertisement. This is similar to the character-led ads of the 20th century, but a major difference is that the ad plays the whole way through without mentioning Cadbury or chocolate until the end, where a bar of Dairy Milk chocolate is shown on screen. The only indication it may be Cadbury related is the prominent use of the colour purple as a background.

This is the way brands use advertising today. They produce memorable campaigns in line with their aims and values to raise brand awareness and to position their brand, in Cadbury’s case, as a “cool” and “must-have” brand.

Ad blockers and other problems

In the last few years, ad-blockers have become more popular among Internet users. Consumers are actively choosing to avoid having to look at advertising while browsing online and this has negatively affected digital media organisations reliant on the revenue it brought. Advertisers also that don’t want to pay to not have their brand seen by their audience.

As demographics change, Millennials are also more discerning and weary of advertising and are more sceptical than older generations. As Forbes notes from findings by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, this incoming generation of consumers choose very carefully who they do and don’t listen to and it’s time for advertisers to change their strategies – if they haven’t already.

This is where the whole idea of advertising begins to flip. Instead of a brand identifying a problem they can solve for you, brands now have to prove themselves before consumers will even consider them, it’s the solution before the product.

From customers to partners

Realising that advertising is getting harder and harder to catch today’s consumers, brands are experimenting how they interact with their audience. One popular strategy is to use content made by the user.

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GoPro and Apple’s ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaign always use photos and videos taken by users to showcase how advanced and high quality their products are instead of traditional advertising. This strategy works because people listen to other people’s testimonials and recommendations rather than the brand promoting themselves.

The value of loyal followers over one-time buyers

This shift in brands using their customer base as partners to evangelise the value and greatness of their brand has emerged as companies realise that if you build a loyal base, you’ll already have an audience before you launch a new product or service.

Loyal followers of brands, like fans of any band or film franchise, sell your brand all by themselves. They recommend your business to their friends and family, and they might even boast about how good everything is on social media.

Businesses are realising that having a loyal audience is key to success as there is already a trust and connection there that doesn’t need to be built from scratch. Instead of advertising for all in the hope that someone comes in and buys, knowing that your audience will like something before you go to market is more than ideal to have as a brand.

Advertising is here to stay, for now

Advertising has evolved from wall etchings in ancient Egypt, to the emergence of the printing press, the cheesy character-led sales pitches of the 80s, to the more organic advertising of today. Current advertising finds subtle ways to build trust and community, always evolving to meet the needs of contemporary consumers.

To be successful, today’s brands need all areas of strategy, marketing, advertising and design to work together to create advertising and marketing that not only sells your product or service, but also builds long-lasting relationships.

Liquid has a holistic and comprehensive approach in working with your brand’s advertising. We put in place a targeted branding and marketing strategy that tackles emerging trends in consumer behaviour, tailored to your business and needs of your audience. So get in touch with us, and let’s turn your customers into loyal partners with the same stake and passion for your brand that you have.


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