Advertising refers to a form of communication that is used to inform potential consumers about a certain product. This may be a new product or one that existed before. Apart from information dissemination, adverts are used for their persuasive power. When a producer needs to change the perception of consumers, they can do so by advertising certain admirable qualities that are beneficial in that product. The most common method of advertising is through the traditional mass media i.e. television, newspaper, radio and magazines. Newer developments in advertising have given rise to outdoor adverts and online advertising through the Internet.
In order for an advertising project to bear fruit, it is imperative that some elements are included in the campaign. These elements will either make or break the success of a particular ad. A good advertisement must be able to leave a pleasant memory in a consumers mind whenever it plays. The advert must be able to change the way a customer perceives the product being advertised. This will involve a complete attitude shift on the part of the consumer in order to see things from the adverts’ point of view. A good advertisement needs to convey the message clearly and precisely. Therefore, adverts must contain value that is admirable by the particular market segment. If a target market is not interested by the advert that is addressing their needs, the product will not succeed in that market.
The advertisements should also be as realistic as possible. Present and potential target customers should be able to relate to what is being advertised. They should also see themselves as being improved, whether physically, mentally or spiritually, by the products qualities. Lastly, a successful advert must yield results for it to be viable. Convinced customers must be transformed into buyers of the product itself. These four rules generally summarize the key tenets of any advertising campaign. Although they are summarized, most, if not all successful adverts apply these guidelines.
The Strong Theory
Different theories have come up to try to explain how advertising works. Some of these theories include the strong theory, the means-ends theory and the weak theory of advertising.
The Strong theory of advertising was largely argued out by staunch capitalists. This theory has the following arguments. Advertising can increase peoples’ knowledge about a product as well as their attitude towards it. These changes can convince a first time buyer to purchase a brand and continue purchasing it. Most of the people who saw the Malaysian Airlines advert for the first time definitely kept it in their minds as an option whenever they considered traveling by air. The Strong theory also assumes that advertisement is the vital contributor towards the demand witnessed in the capitalist system.
In relation to the Malaysia Airlines case, advertising was an advantageous move for the. The point was to increase the existing number of customers as well as retaining the existing ones. The advertisement was definitely captivating and on those grounds alone, Malaysian Airlines increased their customer base that translated into more sales volumes for them as a company. Indeed, advertising contributed greatly to the Malaysian economy through the income gotten from the airlines’ increased operations.
According to Jones, advertisement can also manipulate the buyers by using psychological means that influence the consumers’ decisions (Jones, 1997). These major points in the Strong theory bring out some key conclusions that try to explain the reason for the nature of the advertising market. First, advertising has been brought out by this theory to be the most influential contributor to the positive qualities held by the capitalist system. Advertising is therefore a major player in the economic systems of developed countries like the UK or the USA. Second is that this theory assumes that consumers are ignorant of their roles in the market and the economy in general. Advertisers exploit this opportunity to their benefit in the following way. Since consumers do not know what they want when they proceed to shop, advertisements make up their mind for them by influencing their decisions. In summary, the Strong theory helps us understand the strength that advertisement has over the economy and the consumers. It tries to bring out the positive relationship that exists between the increased purchasing behavior of consumers and the fast growing capitalistic economy.
The argument that customers are most of the time undecided and can easily be swayed into making decisions based on the advertisements they see can be strengthened by the Malaysian Airlines case. Before the intensive campaign was launched, the airlines had a problem of attracting more customers. However, after putting up the interesting advertisement, the number of people using Malaysian Airlines increased proving that they were indeed convinced by the advertisement.
The Weak Theory
Its proponents include Andrew Ehrenberg and his fellow researchers like Barnard, Screven and Bound who describes the Weak theory as being based on the idea that brands are distinguished not by customer loyalty but by the number of consumers. Although Ehrenberg agrees that advertisements can change peoples’ perception of a brand and increase consumer knowledge, he differs with proponents of the strong theory by claiming that consumers are not that interested in the contents of most adverts. Indeed, most of those target customers are already users of the brand. Therefore, advertisement targets already know the features of the brand and in saying so; Ehrenberg concludes that the informative role of advertisements is all but lost on advertisement watchers (Ehrenberg, Goodhardt and Barwise, 1990).
In the Malaysian Airlines case, it can also be argued that most of the customers who were already using this particular airline were not even considering the flash mob advertising doing rounds on the Internet. It is the less frequent flier who would have had an interest in Malaysian Airlines after the advert ran. Similarly, customers of other airlines like British Airways or Alitalian Airways would not have automatically switched to Malaysian even though the advert was deemed as highly successful.
Under the Weak theory, the impact that advertisement has on attitude change is brought under question. Advertising is considered under this theory to be influential but not to the extent that it converts the beliefs that consumers have. This is because of two things: one, an advertisement is not long enough to influence and change the behavior of watchers and two; ads that do not attract a consumer immediately they are on tend to be ignored immediately. To answer the claim that advertising serves to increase company growth, Ehrenberg states that for advanced economies, most markets cannot grow any longer and most turn their attention towards fighting off rival companies.
For Ehrenberg therefore, the Weak theory brings out the role of advertising as a defense mechanism. Advertisement is therefore not used to increase sales but to retain the existing consumers. Therefore, all the advertisements being done only serve to reinforce the presence of a particular brand among users. This has the effect of achieving continuous business from existing consumers that serves to be a good marketing strategy for most large firms. In this case, advertising ceases to be a driving force for change and instead becomes an element for continuity.
In relation to the case study, Malaysian Airlines were not using the advertisement strategy to increase their consumer volumes. Instead, it was used as a self-defense strategy against other airline companies that operated within the same market. Competitors like Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Air Asia were the real targets of the intensive advertising put up by Malaysian Airlines.
Under the concept of buyer consumer behavior (BCB), the decision processes and peoples actions when buying and using goods and services put into consideration. Certain behaviors among producers like advertising have huge impacts on the buyer behavior. The aspect of double Jeopardy is a concept that is mostly experienced by small and medium enterprises. Double jeopardy is a situation that arises due to advertising by rival companies. Among branded goods, the brand popularity is very crucial (Du, 1994). For less popular brands, the brand loyalty tends to be lesser. Likewise small brands having loyal buyers do not undergo the same fate. The Malaysian advertisement had the following similar weaknesses. It did not properly factor in the impact that small brands having extremely loyal customers like Air Asia which give them considerable competition.
The advertisement campaign ran by Malaysia Airlines ran for one month and featured many technological innovations like downloadable games that led to an Air Malaysia-supported portal. Overall, the advert was very good in that it managed to reach a wide consumer base from executives to young travelers to the online community. Malaysian Airlines had joined other airlines and firms in embracing online advertisement. The usage of the video flash mob on Facebook and other social sites was a very innovative way to reach out to their existing customers. Through this advertisement, the airline communicated to the public, the customer friendly and warm treatment that they offer. The flash mob consisted of a musical group of people that was shot at the KLIA grounds. The video included all races and groups of people in society. The dancing was equally entertaining. This advertising campaign will encourage more foreigners to sample the airlines’ services especially Europe and American travelers who can easily access the Internet and see the advert. The increased investment in social media has been proved to increase customer loyalty as the firm is taken to be stable and dedicated to its customers.
Integrated media is a new form of technology that focuses on media content creation, covering a multitude of platforms. Integrated media covered the traditional advertising, branding and packaging with an aim of creating a consolidated message for a company. These platforms can include the web, film, photos and others. The new and traditional media can allow a company to reach out to more people than ordinary advertising can. With integrated media, accompany can reach out to new people, keep the existing ones and use them to achieve any goal that is required.
Online communication with existing and new customers of a firm is very important. Integrated media is best exploited through the web. The company can create a dedicated website and a catalogue to serve as tools fro their marketing needs. This website can also be the link between the physical and the digital world. Therefore, anyone who can access the web can be part of the company. More people are encouraged to take a peek into such websites. Another plus for integrated media is that it gives the company a chance to humanize its outlook. The website and social presence give consumers a sense of attachment to the particular company. All of these strategies will surmount to increased consumer reaction in favor of the company.
The proposed technique for creating awareness would be more effective if a wide range of media was used. The target market for most firms is nowadays international. Therefore, in strategizing, one must factor in the different technological, economical and location situations that each group of customers have. Just like the Malaysian Airlines case, the usage of video greatly reached more people as compared to other media.
Improvements in the TV and social media advertisements
Malaysian Airlines can improve their TV and social media advertisements in the following ways. The television advertisements that are invested in by many advertisers hardly get noticed especially with the introduction of digital TV and VCRs. The solution to making television advertisements work is to post entertaining and brief advertisements. The detailed trick is to avoid badgering the viewer with a product. This digital invasion of infomercials has led to the diminishing success of television advertisement.
The social media advertisement has to be structured in very informative but short ways. The social networks comprise of people whose main aim is to chat, not fish for adverts. Therefore, Malaysian Airlines should consider shorter, information-packed adverts that can easily be captures by web users. The choice of social site t invest in also determines the kind of customers the company will ultimately get.References
Du, P. E. (1994). If likeable ads work best, what’s likeability?: A very large database sheds sharp new light on when and how liking a commercial can turn into effectiveness. Admap, 29, 5, 10.
Ehrenberg, A. S. C., Goodhardt, G. J., & Barwise, T. P. (1990). Double Jeopardy Revisited. The Journal of Marketing, 54, 3, 82-91.
Jones, J. P. (1997). Is Advertising Still Salesmanship? Journal of Advertising Research, 37, 3, 9-16.