Schuh Column: Advertising: It’s positively negative
By Jim Schuh
Advertising produces ambivalent feelings for many of us.
It tells us about new products. It informs us about products and services that may be helpful to us. It helps us save money by letting us know about sales. Sometimes it can be annoying, but all-in-all I’d say advertising is beneficial for you and me.
I spent 42 years in broadcasting, whose lifeblood is advertising, so I’m predisposed to favor it. Without advertising, I’d have had no job. Advertising is what kept our station operating. It paid for the news, sports and entertainment we broadcast.
Much the same is true for newspapers like the Gazette. Without merchants who find this newspaper a good vehicle to carry their ads, it would be out of business. If this paper didn’t have ad revenue, you wouldn’t see my weekly column. That might be a plus.
Different forms of advertising can do things better than others. Radio and TV are good for immediacy and can change copy quickly. Newspapers are better for details and visual presentations, and the ads last longer – the reader can reference them over a period of time. As an ad salesman, it paid me to know the strengths and weaknesses of all media. It helped me serve my clients better.
So advertising, from billboards to cocktail napkins, from store signs to internet ads, from radio and TV to newspapers, from shoppers to direct mail, serves a good purpose in our society and is beneficial.
Repetition, or frequency as the ad people call it, is a key element in advertising. Few of us absorb an ad’s contents the first time we see or hear it. It takes several exposures to get the message across, and quite often, mixing media is the best method for an advertiser to consider.
For example, a consumer is much more likely to respond to a merchant who runs ads in a newspaper and on broadcast; the ads provide a double the impact of what the consumer first saw or heard.
That’s not to say all of us like advertising. When broadcast ads scream at the listener or the same ad runs repeatedly over a long period, they become tedious and obnoxious. They may result in negative impressions, the opposite of what an ad should do. If a newspaper has little editorial content and is full of ads, consumers may stray away from reading them.
Now some disquieting news: It won’t be long all of us become targets of political advertising – the 2020 elections are coming. Early reports don’t paint a pretty picture for consumers. Political ads, which are mainly negative in nature, will be taking over our TV screens and many newspaper pages. We’ll become sick of them rather quickly and likely to tune them out mentally.
But the candidates will have raised so much money by that time they won’t care how insufferable the ads become, they’ll simply be trying to disparage their opponents for anyone who will listen or read. A sad fact is that in politics, negative advertising works.
Many of these political ads will fall under the category of local advertising. The candidates, through their ad agencies, will place ad on local broadcast and in local print media. It will be easy for viewers, listeners and readers to blame the local media for running all those ads, but we should remember they need revenue to operate.
I just saw a report that Americans will be subjected to eight million political ads on TV in advance of the 2020 elections, a 45 percent increase from 2018 when broadcasters ran fewer than six million. By the time the elections come, each of us will feel we’re seen all eight million.
If there’s any good news to all of this, it’s that we’ll have learned to tune out political ads. My wife had another idea. She asked if we could move to Canada.