What is advertising’s true purpose?

by Tony Fannin, president, BE Branded

Most people know what advertising is, but not many know what it’s true purpose is. Unfortunately, over time, it has come to mean selling useless stuff like the pocket fisherman to Shamwow. Most people perceive that the purpose of advertising is to persuade, manipulate, and play head games just to get them to buy something they don’t need. Honestly, there are many marketers who have given fuel to these connotations. Their advertising is about trying to “talk you into” buying what ever they are selling.

To me, that’s not the real purpose of advertising. Yes, I’m a purist and could be called a romantic in thinking that great advertising has a higher calling than what it’s used for. Advertising is not about commerce. It’s about how commerce can contribute to individual lives and society as a whole. I’m not saying that advertising is a noble act, but it can be used in a noble way. Great advertising doesn’t try to “sell” you something or tries to talk you into buying. In reality, advertising cannot make someone buy something they don’t want to. No matter how hard they try or appealing they make it, there’s no way I’m buying lima beans. No amount of advertising can brainwash me or motivate me to pick up even one can.

Great advertising goes beyond just information and specs. Great advertising reaches at a human level both in honesty and emotion. The connection is visceral. It helps audiences see possibilities and solutions that go beyond the actual product or service it’s talking about.

Great advertising doesn’t try to talk you into anything. It’s true purpose it to communicate they understand and have felt the way you feel and they might have the solution you’re looking for. It doesn’t pressure, but instead, invites investigation and discovery. It wants you to look and convince yourself. Because if you convince yourself, you’re not being “sold” to, but you are discovering answers on your terms.

I was asked why I went into marketing, branding, and advertising. Here’s my answer: I have been interested in this field since high school. The driving motivation was how can I affect the most people the quickest? How can I take up worthy causes and make the greatest impact? I saw how marketing and advertising helped launched new companies to become dominate players. I saw how it helped beloved products reach even more people and enrich more lives. I saw how charities and goodwill organizations are able to change thousands of lives at a time. All because of advertising. I wanted to learn that skill. I wanted to be able to leverage that knowledge on behalf of companies and organizations I believed in and help bring a little more enjoyment to lives, to help make dreams come true, or to literally, change the world.

So, to me, great advertising isn’t about selling stuff. It’s about real communication, emotional connection, and bringing value to lives in small and great ways by showing the possibilities and making dreams reality.



About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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