Numerous conceptual frameworks and models help to explain the design of advertising campaigns. This book will focus primarily on the social marketing model. This framework describes how to design information campaigns that focus on improving social welfare, such as health and environmental campaigns. However, Atkin and Rice (2012) state that it is appropriate to apply the social marketing model to consumer advertising campaigns because they share similarities with health and environmental campaigns. The primary difference between consumer advertising campaigns and information campaigns is the goal.
The social marketing model identifies five steps in the campaign process: planning, theory, communication analysis, implementation, and evaluation. In the planning stage, advertisers establish the message goals. This is a critical step in the campaign process as it informs the strategies and tactics. What kind of response do you want from the audience? What do you want them to do, or how do you want them to feel?
In the theory step, advertisers try to determine the best way to achieve the campaign objectives. Perloff (2010) states, “Theories suggest a host of specific campaign strategies, appeals, and ways to modify projects that aren’t meeting stated objectives” (p. 332). This step is also when advertisers complete a creative brief that further outlines the overall strategy. (There will be more on this in a later section.) There are two types of strategies: product-oriented and consumer-oriented.
The product-oriented strategy focuses on highlighting specific benefits related to the product or service (Felton, 2013). One example is commercials for paper towels that compare the product’s specific features, such as absorbency and strength, to those of competitors. These commercials often show side-by-side shots of people using the featured brand and the competing brand, with the featured brand as the better option. Other product-oriented strategies may focus on something that can be found only at a particular company or under a specific brand. McDonald’s occasionally uses this strategy in its advertisements, reminding viewers that they can purchase America’s favorite french fries only at its restaurants.
Another broad advertising strategy connects the audience’s daily experience or lifestyle with the advertised product or service. This is referred to as the consumer-oriented strategy. Advertisers frequently use this strategy for branding purposes. The idea is to associate the company with a particular lifestyle, personality, or characteristic that the audience identifies with or aspires to. Car companies often use consumer-oriented strategies in their commercials. Rather than focusing on the specific features of the car, consumer-oriented commercials might simply show an attractive person driving along a winding road.
The luxury motor company Lincoln recently used this strategy in a campaign. The commercials featured actor Matthew McConaughey simply talking and driving the vehicle. There is very little mention of the product features; however, the advertisements associate McConaughey’s wealth, talent, confidence, and attractive physical features with the car. In doing so, they help to shape Lincoln’s brand identity and personality.
You do not have to choose one strategy over the other. Advertising essentially involves persuading people to act or feel a certain way about the message topic. Therefore, incorporating several ideas and strategies may increase the odds of accomplishing the goal.
The third step in the social marketing model is communication analysis. Here, advertisers conduct market research and audience analysis to test the campaign idea. This step helps the advertisers further craft their strategies. For example, if you are designing a campaign to convince the target audience to try a local cuisine, you want to examine perceptions of the food prior to launching the campaign. You can do this through focus groups or audience surveys.
The next step involves implementing the campaign. This is done by carefully considering the four Ps of marketing: product, placement, price, and promotion. Click on this article for more information on the four Ps.
The last step in the social marketing model is evaluation. This provides an opportunity for the campaign designers to see whether their efforts succeeded in accomplishing the stated goals. One way to do this is through evaluating sales after the launch of the campaign, tabulating media impressions or audience attendance at events, or conducting exit focus groups.