What Is Advertising?

“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.” —Mark Twain

“Advertising says to people, 'Here's what we've got. Here's what it will do for you. Here's how to get it'.” —Leo Burnett

“I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information.” —David Ogilvy

“Kodak sells film, but they don't advertise film. They advertise memories.” —Theodore Parker

“Advertising is salesmanship mass produced. No one would bother to use advertising if he could talk to all his prospects face-to-face. But he can't.” —Morris Hite

“Advertising is of the very essence of democracy. An election goes on every minute of the business day across the counters of hundreds of thousands of stores and shops where the customers state their preferences and determine which manufacturer and which product shall be the leader today, and which shall lead tomorrow.” — Bruce Barton

“You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements.” —Norman Douglas

“[The advertiser articulates]...a novel magic which offers to meet the familiar pains of a particular society and history, to soften or to sharpen ambition, bitterness, solitude, lust, failure and rapacity.” —Fred Inglis

Advertising is...

The analysis of advertising is an integral part of Media Studies. Advertising manifests itself in all known media forms, and is constantly seeking new media, new channels of communication. Through looking at advertising we can learn not only how the most simple narratives are constructed (a print ad is simpler than a magazine article, a TVC is simpler than a feature film, although they use the same narrative techniques), but how ideas can be communicated at great speed, through the use of single images and words.

For a basic definition, check out the GCSE pages.


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