Advertising is an integral part of marketing. Because of the cut-throat competition in the present times, good advertising is inevitable. We see a number of advertisements on TV, newspapers, as billboards on streets etc. Many advertisements come on radio as well. Even buses, taxis and rickshaws carry advertisements on them. The internet which is an inseparable part of our lives today also has many advertisements popping up on different websites.

Features of advertisements
    They help in drawing our attention to the product advertised.
    They describe the positive aspects of the product so that people become keen to buy them.

Building Brands
    The term branding in layman’s terms refers to stamping a product with a particular name or sign. Advertising mainly involves building brands. The main purpose of branding is to differentiate it from other products in the market. Since there are a range of              products available in the market, making one’s product stand out in the eyes of the customer, is very crucial. This is done by branding the products.

Example of Branded Pulse
    Simply branding a product i.e. giving it a name is not enough. It in itself does not convince people to buy the product. It, at the outset, differentiates the product from the unbranded products. But there are a number of brands available in the market. It is           very important to differentiate one brand from another. This is where the role of advertising comes in. Advertising helps in

    Differentiating the product from that of the competitors.
    Convincing people to buy the concerned product.

Building brand values
    Advertisers project the special values for their brand so that their brand is given preference over others. For example one brand of daal can be highlighted as ‘being healthy for our kids’; and the other brand can be highlighted as ‘serving guests well’. Both      these aspects: health of kids and serving guests well are used by brands to create brand values. These brand values are conveyed by way of visuals and words.

   Use of good visuals and words create a positive image of the product in the minds of the people and make the product appealing.

Brand values and social values
    Advertisements have a significant place in our social and cultural life. We discuss the advertisements we watch/hear or read and also tend to judge people based on the brand products they use. In fact some products are remembered purely in terms of        the words or visuals used in their advertisements.

Influence of advertisements
 Branded products cost much more than the products that are sold loose/ non-branded ones. This is because of the cost incurred in packaging and advertising.

Advertisements often target our personal emotions. They link our emotions to the products and tend to influence the ways in which we value ourselves as persons. Often we see many celebrities (cricketers, film stars, models, etc.) selling products through advertisements. Their popularity is used by the advertisers to convince people to buy the products. Let us understand the concept of linking emotions and celebrity endorsements with the help of the following advertisement.

How is an advertisement made?
Given the extent of influence advertisement has on our lives it is obvious that making an advertisement is not an easy job. The main objective of an advertisement is to entice people to buy a particular brand. In other words, after seeing an advertisement people should be drawn towards the brand. This requires a lot of time, effort and money on the part of the advertiser. Briefly, creating an advertisement involves the following steps:

Determining the consumer profile: This is done by conducting market surveys.
Visualizing a campaign: The campaign intended must appeal to the target audience.

Devising a new strategy: This involves

Emphasising on an aspect that is different from that of the competitor. This could be highlighting the product features, personal and social values etc.
Giving a brand name: This step also involves naming the brand. The brand name should represent the concept used in the advertisement.
Making a presentation to the client and getting their feedback
Finalising and releasing the advertisement campaign: When the marketing strategy is considered successful, the advertisement campaign is finalized and released in different media along with the launch of the brand.

Running the advertisement on a single medium does not work. The advertiser needs to use almost all the available media to strengthen the recall value of a brand. You may have observed that a new campaign becomes omnipresent on all types of media. You can see the same advertisement on TV, in newspaper and magazine, on huge hoardings and will get to hear the same catch-line on radio. This is further augmented by display advertisements on the internet.

Advertising and Democracy
Democracy has equality as its integral part. There are many ways in which advertising links to the issues of equality.

Cost:     Advertising involves enormous costs. Advertising a brand usually involves crores of rupees. The money that is spent on advertising is for

Producing and showing advertisements
Repeating the advertisements many times so that it registers in the minds of the people. This is important because already there are a number of advertisements of a number of brands. So repeating one’s advertisement increases the chances of                     consumers remembering the particular brand.

The high costs involved mean that only large companies can advertise. People owning small businesses cannot afford to do so. Hence people who sell home-made pickles, papads, jams, etc. are not as valued by consumers as the branded products. These homemade items have to be sold in local weekly markets only.

Loss of livelihood of small businessmen: Advertisements create a wrong notion in the people’s minds regarding product quality. They make us believe that packaged and branded products are far superior in quality than the non-branded ones. But in reality, the quality of the product is not related much to the packaging that it comes in. This tendency of the people of shifting to branded products and ignoring the non-branded ones results in the loss of livelihood of many small businessmen.

Promoting lack of respect for the poor: Since advertisements show the life of the rich and elite only, we do not come to know about the lives of the poor and underprivileged. This results in our tendency to consider their lives as worthless.

Since advertisements use various emotions like caring for the family for promoting their products; those who cannot afford the branded products feel that they are not able to offer the quality product and the care that the brand products appear to offer. For example if the advertisement of a branded daal uses the tagline and concept of ‘give the best to your family’; those who cannot afford this brand will feel incapable of giving the best to their family.

Overlooking important issues: Since advertising focuses on the lives of the rich and the well known, it makes us forget the issues of poverty, discrimination and dignity – the issues that are the essence of the functioning of equality in a democracy.

More than just selling the product it tells us how we should lead our lives, what is being smart, what our dreams and aspirations should be, etc.

Tall claims by advertisers:
 Many advertisements by protein drink brands are good examples certain tall claims made by these brands. For example; one of the brands claims that a child can become taller and sharper by using that drink. Another brand claims that it will promote better growth of brain and child can become as intelligent as Einstein. The truth is far from what the brands claim. Nobody can become taller and sharper by using a protein drink. A person becomes tall because tallness is in his/her gene. A child can grow better with help of proper nutrition and exercise. A child can become intelligent by rigorous practice and regular study.