As I, along with you, watched the many bowl games in recent weeks, I was interested with how many commercial appeals confronted us during that time. Advertising is one of our modern societies most visible aspects.
Bess Myerson, when she was director of New York City Consumer Affairs, said: “Everything we do in our lives we do as consumers. Everything.
From the time we’re born into our consumer society until we leave it – sorely missed by family and friends, salespersons and creditors – we must buy the time of our lives.”
About $75 billion a year is spent on advertising in the United States, or $443 per adult. One television spot in the upcoming Super Bowl game now will run $1 million or so.
Does advertising pay? Obviously. Do advertisers get a strong response? Not what you’d expect.
Direct mail advertisers consider it good if they get 1 percent return – that is our response out of every 100 letters mailed out.
Of course, everyone entering the deluge of “million-dollar” sweepstakes being offered through the mail, is hoping they will be so lucky in being the next millionaire.
The rule of thumb in advertising is that you must keep at it – continually spreading the word, telling your story over and over again, like conditioning Pavlov’s dog.
This explains why we see the same advertisement or commercial over and over again.
I am always amazed at the number of food commercials, and how beautifully they are portrayed, on television.
Also advertisers know that our taste buds are whetted around 9 or 10 o’clock in the evening, and the food commercials seem to be at 5-minute intervals.
Almost as abundant as the nation’s food is the limitless profusion of statistics that record its production and consumption.
Good Housekeeping magazine ran an article on food some years ago with facts and figures such as the following:
• Of all the food products available to households today, two-thirds did not exist 10 years ago.
• The average American packs away 1,500 pounds of food a year.
• Supermarkets prefer male shoppers over women because they buy 15 percent more than women.
Thomas Smith gave classic expressions to the theory in his “Hints To Intending Advertisers,” published in 1885, which still represents the premise on which many advertising schedules are constructed:
The first time a person looks at an advertisement, he does not see it.
The second time he does not notice it.
The third time he is conscious of its existence.
The fourth time he faintly remembers having seen it before.
The fifth time he reads it.
The sixth time he turns up his nose at it.
The seventh time he reads it through and says, “Oh what a bother!”
The eighth time he says, “Here’s that confounded thing again.”
The ninth time he wonders if it amounts to anything.
The 10th time he thinks he will ask his neighbor if he has tried it.
The 11th time he wonders how the advertiser makes it pay.
The 12th time he thinks it must be worth something.
The 13th time he thinks it must be a good thing.
The 14th time he remembers that he has wanted such a thing for a long time.
The 15th time he is tantalized because he cannot afford to buy it.
The 16th time he thinks he will buy it some day.
The 17th time he makes a memorandum of it.
The 18th time he swears at his poverty.
The 19th time he counts his money more carefully.
The 20th time he sees it, he buys the article or instructs his wife to do so.
I’m sure Mr. Smith would alter some of the above due to the medium of television today, but a great lesson is taught for all of us to learn: Keep pushing, keep striving. Keep at it!
There will be failures, but there will be successes, too.
Daily we are all in the advertising business!
Rev. Dr. Fred Andrea is the pastor at Aiken’s First Baptist Church.
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