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Types of Advertising

Advertising, as we have already discussed, is any paid for space which

communicates a message about a product/service and can be categorised
according to the medium in which it appears. Traditionally, this has been
split between

• Television & Cinema

• Radio
• Press & Publication
• Direct Marketing
• Packaging
• Outdoor and Event

In 2003 we now add Interactive (ie Internet) and New Media (ie any media
which has not been used before, like the back of cinema tickets, or the dot
matrix screens in the MTR stations) to the list.


The history of mass advertising and the history of television are closely
intertwined. Without advertising, television would have made no headway in
countries without a state sponsored broadcaster (mainly the US) and would
certainly not be the instrument of mass communication it is today. Television
advertising takes the form of tv commercials (often referred to as TVCs or
spots) which are either 30 or 45 seconds long.

TVCs appear in gaps between and during regular programmes, known as

commercial breaks. Advertisers buy time in specific breaks, knowing that
their target audience must be the same as that of the programme during
which the break occurs. Thus teen soaps have commercial breaks filled with
pimple cream and music CD ads.

Advertisers may choose to sponsor a whole programme, which means their

logo and a short identity clip accompany the beginning and end of a
programme ("Brought to you by...") and their advertising may feature
heavily in commercial breaks during that programme. This is controversial,
as it is felt that sponsors may interfere in the content of the programme if it
doesn't work in their favour.

Television advertising is under threat from devices such as the TiVo - hard
drives which record programmes but edit out ad breaks. The problem is,
without the funding that selling commercial space provides, there would be
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no TV programmes to start with, so TV companies are very anxious about

the long term consequences of the TiVo. Read more about the debate here.

Find examples of TVCs at

• Absolutely Andy - UK clips

• AdForum - the latest ad’s from all over the world
• USATVADS - archive dating back to 1975

Most big manufacturers now include their latest TV ads as part of the
material on their website - try these from Apple but you can look for your
own favourites. You can find ads from our very own ICAC here.


Cinemas provide advertisers with a very specific audience (often sorted by

age and taste, and often difficult to reach groups, such as 15-18 year olds)
who are concentrating on a big screen in an environment without
distractions. Because audiences are age rated, cinema commercials can be
more daring and innovative than those that appear on TV which are aimed
at a general audience. Cinema campaigns can be national, or extremely local
(running in just one auditorium). Cinema advertising can also range from a
single slide to a full length audio-visual commercial.

As well as advertising in cinemas, manufacturers can also use product

placement to promote their goods & services. Read more about it here.

Press & Publication

This category can be subdivided into

• Magazine Ad - colour or b/w, in double, full, half or quarter pages.

Some magazines have a classified section which includes line and box
• Newspaper Ad - colour or b/w, again in double (rare for a newspaper),
full, half or quarter pages. Many newspapers have a large classified
section, sometimes as a separate pull-out
• Advertorial - an ad presented in editorial style, endorsing a product or
service. To distinguish between advertorial (ie paid for) and editorial
content, the word "Advertisement" appears across the top of the
• Poster - can be displayed indoors. Usually used by not-for-profit or
government organisations
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Again, target audiences of advertisements must match the target audience

of the publication in which it appears.

Direct Marketing

This includes material which is sent directly to people's homes or offices -

catalogues, brochures, mailing offers etc. Terms like spam and Direct Mail
are contemporary techniques of reaching a target audience.


Many advertising campaigns now involve a re-launch of product packaging

and design, meaning that images and colours are consistent across both
promotion and presentation.

Outdoor & Event

Outdoor advertising comes in many different forms. In a busy city, people

may not even glance at a standard poster, so in an advertising saturated
world the agencies use many different tricks to get our attention. Advertising
creeps onto hitherto unused spaces, becomes larger, moves - anything to be
different and eye-catching. This can be regarded as cultural pollution, as our
cityscapes are plastered with paid-for messages. Or perhaps it just brightens
up dull urban areas with wit and

One of the most basic of these is the

bus stop ad - a one sheet poster.
However, much more inventive use
can be made of the bus stop
environment, as this FT sponsored
example shows, with newsprint
wrapped around the supporting
columns and the whole bus stop given over to Financial Times advertising.
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Size matters: especially in advertising. Buildings in prominent places can be

partly or wholly remade as giant billboards as these examples show.

Bigger Biggest
iPod Financial Times
West Hollywood, Los Angeles IFC2 Building, Hong Kong
Johnnie Walker (88 floors, tallest in HK, 3rd
Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong tallest in the world)