Why Advertising Works

June 12, 2015 amywaggs No comments

Before I tell you why it works, let’s prove that it does.

Take a look at these 9 images below and see if you can tell me what brand or what company is doing the advertising. Hint: Some of these ads have long since been retired.


Don’t worry, I’ll give you the answers below if you want to check your work.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I am not influenced by advertising?” The reason many people say that is because they mistakenly think that advertisements are meant to make you do something immediately.

But you’re wrong.

Successful advertising rarely accomplishes the goal with arguments or calls to action. Instead they create positive emotions and “warm fuzzy feelings” that influence your decision making at a later date. Great ads leave you with impressions. Great ads aren’t just creative for creative’s sake. They use stories, songs and imagery to focus your attention on the brand in a way you’ll remember later.

It’s absolutely mind-blowing to believe we are exposed to over 5,000 ads per day, but if you include the brand label on the shirt your put on this morning, to the radio ad you hear on the way to work, and the ad slapped on the back of the bus you’re stuck behind, to the box that your new tube of toothpaste came in this evening, you could easily be exposed to that much brand messaging throughout the day.

Whether its 5 or 5,000, we see so much and register remember very little. But what we DO remember stands out in our minds because of three main things.

  1. Simplicity of recognition (we “get it” right away)
  2. Emotional connection (the ad connects with us emotionally whether it’s humor, sadness or something else)
  3. Repetition (the brand utilizes the same imagery, colors, or slogan over and over)

Banned Advertising
One thing you won’t see advertised anymore are cigarettes. Why? Because advertising works, that’s why.

The first known advertisement in the USA oddly enough, was for the snuff and tobacco products of P. LoPhilip_Morris_Adsrillard and Company and was placed in the New York daily paper in 1789. Yes! 1789!

Tobacco advertising in the decades leading up to World War II consisted primarily of full page, color magazine and newspaper advertisements, but then moved to primarily television advertising after WWII, largely targeting youth.

Prior to 1964, many of the cigarette companies advertised their brand by falsely claiming that their product did not have serious health risks. A couple of examples would be “Play safe with Philip Morris” and “More doctors smoke Camels”. In 1964, after facing much pressure from the public, The Cigarette Advertising Code was created by the Tobacco companies, which prohibited advertising directed to youth.

Simple. youth_23Emotional. Repeated.

Advertising works so well that in April of 1970, Congress had to pass the “Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act” which banned the advertising of cigarettes on television and radio. The very last commercial shown was for Virginia Slims, at 11:59 pm the evening before the ban went into full effect.


1. Corona
2. Nike
3. Taco Bell
4. Geico
5. Apple
6. Green Giant
7. Anheuser Busch (Budweiser)
8. Mastercard
9. Wheaties (General Mills)

marlboro-manAD FACT

The famous Marlboro Man ads began in 1955. The Marlboro Man actually included a variety of masculine figures such as athletes, gunsmiths, and captains, but the rugged cowboy image proved the most marketable.

Three men who appeared in the advertisements later died of lung cancer, earning the brand the nickname “Cowboy Killer.”

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