Through the use of media and technological advances, consumers today learn about what
is happening in the world in many different innovative ways. Companies are able to
communicate with their consumers on a whole new level. Consumers are able to gain up to the
minute news and expand their knowledge about virtually anything. People can communicate
with each other in different ways and can get messages out to the world quickly and in creative
ways, other than the sole use of print. There are many different outlets that the media can use to
convey their message to the public. One of these methods is advertising. Advertising works to
create brands and meaning, and as a result shapes identities and the way people view society and
live their lives. The media has a tremendous amount of influence on the public and in many
cases encourages people to see things from a different perspective. Advertising can send subtle
messages or it can be a powerhouse of information. The goal of advertising is not only sell
products, but to sell a way of life; making consumers believe their product will have specific
meaning in their life.
Advertising methods have evolved and grown over the years. Advertising began solely
with print ads in newspapers and magazines, and then moved to the radio, and later to television
commercials. These commercials have revolutionized advertising, creating icons and brands
consumers have come to know and love. As technology has advanced, so too has advertising.
One of the latest developments in communication is the concept of social networking. Websites
such as Facebook and Twitter allow users to connect and share information with friends and
family all over the world. Advertising corporations have also joined this social networking
revolution. Now marketers are getting consumers involved with the advertising process,
allowing voting for and even submitting and making their own advertisement videos for various
products. This is a global phenomenon, and it is not only happening in the United States.
Countries all over the world are using social media, and now they are also using this new
technology for advertising. Social media has revolutionized advertising and marketing and
forever changed the concept of selling products within this unique and innovative platform.
II. The Beginning of Advertising and Transition from Print to Radio:
The concept of commercial advertising began in the 1920s as an “industry’s attempt to
develop a continually responsive consumer market” (Ewen, 32). Throughout the 1920s, more
and more publications, such as magazines and newspapers, began to include advertisements.
The original goal of advertising was to create consumers in order to “control the consumption of
a product” (Ewem, 33). Advertisers soon learned that this idea was not enough. This is because
of Henry Ford’s development of the assembly line. He began to produce automobiles that were
less expensive, but just as efficient. With this development there was no longer a need to try to
produce consumers. Instead, “the advertising industry had too develop universal notions of what
makes people respond, going beyond the ‘horse sense’ psychology that had characterized the
earlier industry” (Ewen, 33). With this notion came the development of the mass audience, and
advertisers began do discover how to reach large numbers of people with a “universal appeal”
(Ewen, 33). Ad men developed the idea of “human instincts” and how it could induce people to
buy products (Ewen, 34). From this point on, advertising became an extremely important
industry to businesses that were trying to sell their products.
The development of the radio led to new innovations in advertising. Previously,
advertisements were only in print, in either magazines or newspapers. At first, many ad men
struggled with the idea of radio advertising and how to sell products without using pictures or
images. The reaction to this new advertising concept was very negative, and ad men were very
skeptical of this new idea. One advertising manager said, “We feel that direct advertising
through the radio would be more likely to antagonize rather than produce sales” (Meyers, 357).
Advertising agencies were also afraid to offend print media, since most revenues at the time
came from print advertisements. However, this negativity changed by 1929, when advertising
agencies finally entered broadcasting. They eventually oversaw one third of all network
programs on the radio.
Popular radio programs, such as Amos ‘n’ Andy began to have commercials.
“Advertisers, with broadcasters’ consent, turned to commercials mentioning product features and
prices…Advertising agencies benefited from the new business of producing radio programs,
earning commissions on airtime costs and talent fees during an otherwise shrinking economy”
(Meyers, 358). It became clear that radio advertising had become a success. Products and
companies featured on radio advertisements and commercials, such as Pepsodent, experienced a
rapid increase in sales, especially when their product was advertised on popular radio programs,
such as Amos ‘n’ Andy. Advertisers began to flock to radio, after seeing how successful it really
was. Advertisers began to realize they could control what audiences their messages reached, by
selecting what programming would be best for their advertisement. As a result, advertisers were
able to reach a mass audience, which was discovered during the early days of advertising.
With the increase in advertising on the radio, the problem of program control developed.
There were no editorial or copyright regulations with radio advertising, as there was with print.
Many ad men were concerned with the merging of these two platforms. One manager said, “All
radio space is editorial space, and since advertising space cannot be ‘skipped or delayed until
time suits its reading,’ advertisers risk earning ‘ill will’ from listeners if the advertising is not
universally pleasing” (Meyers, 2011). Many believed this problem would result in radio
advertising loosing its credibility to listeners, and something had to be changed. William
Benton, founder of the radio agency Benton & Bowles said, “Broadcasting must be improved, or
lose its listeners” (Meyers, 2011).
A similar problem developed regarding schedule control. “Advertisers who had not
entered radio early enough to establish a time franchise, or monopoly on a time slot, effectively
were blocked from broadcast advertising” (Meyers, 2011). For example, CBS gave preference to
advertisers who could afford to pay more, while NBC gave preference to advertisers with
seniority. This system was not helpful, as it prevented “audience flow,” which is the movement
of attention of the audience to the next program, and could no longer hold audiences attention
(Meyers, 2011). To solve this problem, advertisers began to use celebrities in advertising
commercials. An advertising executive, Howard Angus said, “advertisers have gone crazy and
are selling stars instead of products” (Meyers, 2011). Advertisers had many reasons for using
stars and celebrities. Not only were they used to attract audiences, but also advertisers believed
that they would evoke a positive association between the sponsoring product and celebrity. This
type of advertising also carried over to television commercials in the 1950s.
III. History of Advertising on Television:
In 1949, Pat Weaver was hired by NBC-TV to develop the television-advertising division
of the network, after previously working on advertising on the radio. “Weaver viewed television
as an advertising medium, a medium that could outperform radio, but only if the flaws of radio,
such as sponsor program control, were corrected” (Meyers, 364). Weaver began to implement
schedule control, which did not happen with radio advertising. “Schedule control allowed
networks to build audience flow and shape audience attention” (Meyers, 2011). It is clear that
television advertising became much more sophisticated than radio advertising.
As the rules and regulations were more organized in television advertising, it became
much more successful, and again, advertising agencies chose to make the transition into
television. In the 1950s, “marketers began to offer continuously updated products, creating a
period of consumption anxiety.” This was the beginning of consumerism, and it began to play an
important part in advertising. It was during the 1950s that advertisers really began to encourage
and convince customers to buy products that were not necessities, but would somehow enhance
their life and make it better. This is when research and demographic targeting was developed; it
was how advertisers would sell products to a mass audience. This is when psychology began to
be used in advertising or, as George Phelps called it, “the psychological consumption of
consumers. He said it was, “simply a question of influencing minds… the process of getting
people to do or think what you want them to do or think” (Ewen, 83). This concept developed
into the notion of mass psychology or controlling the masses. Edward Bernays said, “the control
of the masses required that people, like the world they inhabited, assume the character of
machinery-predictable and without any aspirations towards self-determination” (Ewen, 84). In
order to control the masses, and make people relate to and desire products, advertisers came up
with the concept of iconic and memorable characters to put on the commercials, which these
mass audiences came to love.
Not only did commercials continue with the idea of celebrity endorsers, as discovered
during radio advertising, but they also began to use icons as a way to influence consumers and to
control the masses. The Marlboro Man is one such icon. This character was developed in 1954,
and was played by the actor Leo Burnett. Alka-Seltzer also had an iconic character as part of
their advertising campaign, known as the “Stop-motion” Speedy Alka-Seltzer Man, who offered
“Fast, fast relief.” Other iconic advertising characters include Aunt Jemima, the Snuggle Bear,
Tony the Tiger, the Kool-Aid Man, the Geico Gecko and many others. All of these iconic
characters have made consumers believe in the story they were telling, and want to buy the
While early television advertising was effective, and iconic characters were successfully
implemented into campaigns to sell products over the years, there was still so much more to
successful advertising. The new concept of user-generated advertising began in the 21st century,
as the era of digital media and mass communication came into the forefront. For the first time,
consumers began to become active in advertising. “User-generated advertising encourages
ordinary people to produce, edit, and star in commercials for corporate behemoths.” In 2007,
Dove’s Supreme Cream Oil Body Wash Campaign was the first campaign to implement this new
user-generated concept of advertising. Dove’s contest “challenged real women to create 30second commercials for Dove’s new line of body washes.”
The winning ad would be premiered during the 2008 Academy Awards ceremony For
the first time, “real women” not paid actors could provide testimonials for products, such as
Dove. Kathy O’Brien, Dove’s Marketing Director said, “ For the launch of the new Dove
Supreme Cream Oil Body Washes, we wanted to give women control of the creative process and
let them be a part of the biggest nights in entertainment.” This type of advertising is affective
because everyday women could relate to these women in the commercials, because they are just
like them. User-generated advertising marked the beginning of a change in the way advertising
and marketing campaigns are developed, and are beginning to allow consumers to be active in
the advertising process.
IV. The Development of Social Media- Facebook and Twitter:
Besides television commercials, social media also plays a significant role in the concept
of user-generated advertising. Social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter have
become very important to the digital age of advertising. The uniqueness of SNS like Facebook is
the ability that enables users to shape and make social networks visible to the public (Day, Urista
& Qingwen, 2008). According to Baron and Davis (1995), “the person follows his or her
interests, choosing media content according to his or her needs and synthesizes that content to
satisfy those needs” (p. 219). In other words, the selection and usage of media is a goal-directed,
purposive and motivated action (Rosengren, 1974). Young adults greatly respond to the
Facebook site because it is personal, and they can choose who they are friends with, see pictures
and updated news, and follow what they are interested in. This is also known as the uses and
gratification theory (Day, Urista & Qingwen, 2008). This is an example of how media can be
used along with interpersonal communication to fulfill an individual’s needs and wants.
Another influential social media website is Twitter. The microblogging site was
launched in October 2006 by a small San Francisco based start up company called Obvious
(Honeycutt &Herring, 1). The concept of microblogging became popular with the launch of
Twitter. Users can send short messages or status updates to others, which are 140 characters or
less, and these updates are known as “tweets.” “Tweets can be posted via Twitter.com, text
messaging, or from third party clients; the ability to post from mobile phones makes Twitter a
mobile application” (Honeycutt& Herring, 2009). Since its launch in 2006, Twitter has become
an extremely popular method of communication, not only for teenagers, but also for college
students, business people, journalists and even celebrities.
Users have a brief profile, like that of Facebook, although not as extensive. “The public
profiles include the full name, the location, a web page, a short biography, and the number of
tweets of the user. The people who follow and those that the user follows are also listed” (Kwak,
Lee & Moon, 2010). Users can post states, tag other users in updates, and respond to trending
topics with the hash tag icon (#). Research has shown that there are a variety of different types
of users on twitter. Users are broken down into three categories’ the user; “information sources,
friends and information seekers” (Honeycutt& Herring, 2009).
Information users primarily post news, and have a base of “followers,” the equivalent of
“fans” on Facebook. Most users fall into the friends category, who post status updates about
their everyday lives, and have conversations with friends, family or co-workers. The third
category, information seekers, is those who do not post regularly, but go on Twitter to follow
others and see what they are tweeting about. There are many different ways users can get
information on twitter, and not just by directly reading other users tweets. The concept of
“retweeting” is popular. Users can post tweets from others to their profile, and share it with their
followers. “On Twitter people acquire information not always directly from those they follow,
but often via retweets” (Kwak, Lee & Moon, 2010). This concept allows information to reach an
even larger audience, as information can be retweeted to many different users. Today even major
companies, radio stations and private businesses hire people to tweet in order to attract new
customers and to hold on to their present customers while keeping everyone interested and
invested in what they are selling and promoting.
V. 21st Century Advertising
Facebook and Twitter Campaigns Generate Brand Awareness:
Both Facebook and Twitter have millions of users. Today’s digital technology allows
people to remain in constant contact. Especially with the development of Smartphones, users
can even tweet, post and update Facebook statuses from anywhere. Businesses, corporations and
celebrities have begun to use these social networks to stay in contact with consumers and fans.
In today’s society, it has “much more to do with what people are doing with the technology than
the technology itself, for rather than merely retrieving information, users are now creating and
consuming it, and hence adding value to the web sites that permit them to do so. As a result, a
lot of advertising communication today is different than in the past” (Campbell, 2011). The
success of these social networks has led to another revolution in advertising and marketing.
Advertising campaigns are now being directed towards social media, and takes the concept of
user generated, also known as consumer generated advertising to a new level. Social media has
also been proven to generate a significant increase in brand awareness as opposed to traditional
forms of advertising.
Consumers are now taking control of advertising and firms are losing the ability to
control their brands. This is because of the popularity of social networks, and video hosting sites
like YouTube. “YouTube has permitted consumers to become broadcasters, and this is fueling a
revolution in advertising” (Campbell, 2011). This is important to the consumer generated
advertising because like Campbell said, users are now taking control of advertising and creating
their own commercials or advertisements, which the companies are using to sell their products.
“Social networking site users not only embraced advertising-related content, but actually
promoted it” (Taylor, 2011). The uniqueness of microblogging on social media web sites like
Facebook and Twitter is that it translates the power of word-of-mouth communication through
the Internet; also known as electronic word-of-mouth, or eWOM (Jansen & Zhang, 2009). This
is important to advertising and brand awareness because it allows companies to know how
consumers feel about their products. Also, “microblogging sites provide a platform to connect
directly, again in near real time, with customers, which can build and enhance customer
relationships” (Jansen & Zhang, 2009).
Social media and YouTube has taken the concept
created by the Dove Supreme Cream Oil Body Wash Ad Contest and transferred it to digital
More and more corporations are beginning to create Facebook and Twitter accounts were
users can “like,” “become a fan” of, or “follow their product as a way to generate brand
awareness. The company Old Spice used this concept for a campaign for their fragrance line.
Facebook users were invited to become fans of the product and “Turn Up Your Man Smell,” was
the ad’s slogan. After only a week, the brand’s Facebook page had more than 120,000 fans
(Taylor, 2011). Toyota also used Facebook and YouTube videos to promote its Sienna minivan.
They created a fictional couple that broadcasted videos through YouTube claiming they “believe
they were cool despite all evidence to the contrary” (Taylor, 2011). Toyota also solicited
Facebook fans for this campaign, combining both forms of social media. Within a few weeks,
the YouTube videos were viewed about 15,000 times and about 2,000 Facebook users became
fans of the Sienna page (Taylor, 2011). These examples show just how influential social media
can be in regards to generating brand awareness, and how it is a powerful tool for any successful
VI. Examples of Brands Implementing Social Media Advertising Campaigns:
After evaluating the constant success of social media brand awareness, Old Spice decided
to continue with their advertising campaign and get users even more involved. By July of 2010,
their “Smell Like a Man Campaign” became a popular culture phenomenon (Parpis, 2010). The
commercials featured the former NFL football player, Mustafa with “a smooth chest and
washboard abs.” In the commercials, Mustafa was in the shower, and was speaking to women
saying, “I’m on a horse,” which became his famous line. “The spot suggested women stock up
on some manly shower stuff for their guys and reap the rewards” (Wong, 2010).
After the increasing popularity of these videos, Old Spice created a real time social media
event featuring Mustafa. He personally responded to questions from Facebook and Twitter from
fans. In total, one hundred and eighty six messages were sent in. After this event, Old Spice has
more than 90,000 Twitter followers and more than 675,000 Facebook fans, as well as over 94
million views on YouTube. Matt Cutler, CMO of Visible Measures said, “It’s a record breaking
campaign for social media. It’s by far the largest we’ve seen. It’s not just approaching but
surpassing the reach of traditional broadcast” (Wong, 2010). This social media campaign was
proven successful for Old Spice, as overall sales for the body-wash have seen increases as much
as 107% with the addition of television commercials to go along with the social media campaign.
Another digital media advertising campaigns was launched in 2010 by PepsiCo. Their
project is titled “The Pepsi Refresh Project,” and the goal is “aimed at doing well by doing good.
This advertising campaign is focused around the social media sites, Facebook and Twitter. Pepsi
has said they are going to donate twenty million dollars to social causes and social media users
can suggest how they will spend this money. Users can send in submissions, and then the public
will vote on these submissions through social media. This campaign is all about getting social
media users to spread their message and portray a positive attitude towards the Pepsi brand.
Pepsi also uses celebrity endorsers and commercials to supplement this advertising campaign.
Lee Clow, chief creative officer and global director for media arts at the Pepsi-Cola
agency said, “Every generation refreshes the world. Now it’s your turn.” The goal is “to develop
a mechanism for young people to create ideas to make things better,” he added, that “will
ultimately become part of the global behavior of the brand” (Elliot, 2010). This campaign is
significant as it shows a brand’s direct engagement with their consumers, for a good cause and at
the same time, spreading awareness about their brand. This campaign is also significant as it was
the first time in twenty-three years that Pepsi decided to forgo buying commercial time during
Super Bowl XLIV. This shows how confident Pepsi is in the future of social media advertising
and its effect on consumers.
Super Bowl XLIV was also significant because social media users became more involved
in the commercial advertising process, and many brands have come up with digital media
campaigns for the first time. For example, Doritos, a division of PepsiCo snack foods reprised
the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl Campaign. “The contest selects and airs the most popular
consumer-generated ads, this time it’ll allow contestants to post and share video submissions via
Facebook, Digg and Twitter, and alert friends which ads they voted for” (Wong, 2010). A
representative from Frito-Lay described the impact of this new social media campaign, and how
it gained a viral following. Chris Kuechenmeister said, “When you consider the thousands and
thousands of views the videos get-and how many times they’re shared- it’s a pretty viral piece”
(Wong, 2010). Research at Frito-Lay has shown that consumers were already sharing these
videos through social media so they decided to implement this in their campaign, as a way to get
users involved, which allows consumers to form a connection to the brands.
Counties all over the world are using social media to promote, launch and gain awareness
for products and brands. This revolution is not only taking place in the United States but all over
the globe. For example, Mountain Dew, a division of PepsiCo has decided to relaunch the
popular soft drink in the United Kingdom, after being off the market for twenty-five years. The
advertising campaign for this launch focused on social media, and did not use any other
communication medium. Users, or fans, were encouraged to “get plugged into the shocking
drinkable energy,” and update there statuses with information about the drink, as well as enter
competitions. Tiffany Welsh, PepsiCo’s brand manager said, “The launch is all because of fans
and their online campaigning, so it felt right for our marketing strategy to be an extension of this.
That’s why we have focused on social media, to harness the power of word-of-mouth that made
this launch happen” (Kimberley, 2010). It is important for marketers to understand the power of
social media and how it can be an effective form of advertising.
Brands and products have become very influential in society. This is mainly because of
the power advertising has. The goal of advertising is to make their products have meaning in the
consumer’s lives. This also relates to communication because the goal is also to create meaning
of the messages that are sent. Advertisers are not just trying to sell products, but lifestyles. They
try to make consumers think that their products are important in everyday life and that their
products are imperative in making life better. With the growing technology, it has become even
more evident in everyday life. Social media such as websites like Facebook and Twitter have
revolutionized how people connect with each other. “Social media impact is being felt across the
globe. Whenever people are online they are actively engaged with a wide variety of social media
platforms…if there is an Internet connection, people are involved” (Smith, 2009). Social media
are powerful forms of communication, not just for everyday life, but also from an advertising
Advertising has drastically changed over the years. Beginning in print, then transferring
to radio, and eventually television, it is clear that selling products and lifestyles greatly influence
society. With social media, a new era in advertising has been born. Companies such as Dove,
PepsiCo, Old Spice, Doritos, Mountain Dew and numerous others have proven that digital media
advertising can be very successful. Because of social media, the world has become a smaller
place where people can communicate and keep track of each other regardless of the distance
between them. By advertising in social networks, companies are able to promote mass brand
awareness. Consumers want to be a part of the advertising process, and enjoy having an input on
what commercials or advertisements they see. Research has shown that reaching so many
consumers and being able to interact with them through the various forms of social media, results
in increased sales and increased exposure of their products. It is clear that social media with its
continuous technological growth is a major factor in the future of advertising, and has forever
changed the concept of selling products and promoting brands.
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