Did you happen to catch the season finale of “Friends” on May 6th? “The exhaustively hyped series finale of “Friends” drew 52.25 million viewers for its extended 66 minute running time.” A 30-second commercial spot garnered a cool $2 million, costing advertising heavyweights such as Allstate, Anheuser-Busch, Chevrolet, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, as well as Walt Disney and Universal Studios a mere four cents a head. For the purpose of this assignment I will characterize mass media’s and telemarketing’s role as part of the promotional mix, who pays for them, and how they are perceived by consumers with regards to their objectivity. I will also explain how traditional Word-of-Mouth works and round up the assignment discussing “buzz” advertising. First, let’s discuss television mass media’s role in the promotional mix.
Mass media’s (television, radio, magazines, etc) role in the promotional mix is advertising. In particular, television commercial advertising is a paid form of non-personal communication. Companies use commercial advertising because it is an effective means of mass-marketing as indicated by the “Friends” series finale. The objectives to advertising include: informing consumers of a new product, persuading the consumer to remain with or switch to a particular product, or remind consumers of the value of a product or where to locate it. The objective of mass-marketing is to reach out to as many consumers in one fail swoop to create brand awareness, brand interest, brand equity, to obtain competitive advantage, and to increase market share. The advertiser’s ultimate goal is to accomplish the company’s marketing objectives.
In regards to advertising, companies use a pull selling strategy, to “build up consumer demand.” A typical commercial is comprised of the source (the company/distributor/retailer) whose product or service is featured) that encodes the message using symbols such as words, illustrations, or images; the message (the combination of symbols) transmitted to the receiver (consumers) who then decodes the message (hopefully interpreting the message in the same way it was encoded); and feedback (through purchase, attitude change about the product/service, or non-purchase). Finally, noise, plays a role in advertising. With current technology such as TiVO, consumers can choose to skip past commercial segments.
The advertising company, its’ distributor, or its’ retailer pays the network for the commercial air time. If more than one of these pays for the commercial air time it is called cooperative advertising. Using vehicles as an example, either the manufacturer pays for the commercial or the car dealership does. However, in the overall scheme of things, successful commercials can be paid for by consumer purchases.
The court of public opinion considers the objectivity of advertising dependent upon the type of message. According to a 1990 survey conducted by the Roper Organization concerning public opinion “with regard to the content of promotion messages, 60 percent of those surveyed believe ads with money-back guarantees, 57 percent believe ads with products approved by medical or health groups, 38 percent believe ads where comparisons to competitors are made, 29 percent believe ads using hidden-camera interviews, and 25 percent believe ads featuring celebrity endorsements.” While no current data is available, it appears consumers remain skeptical concerning advertising messages.
Telemarketing is an example of direct marketing in the promotional mix. However, the court of public opinion indicates displeasure in this type of promotion. One could say the public pays for telemarketers with interrupted dinners and misleading or deceptive telemarketing schemes, but the business or charitable organization that uses this service pays for it in cash. It’s interesting to note that an Eyewitness News investigation in Rock Hill, South Carolina revealed that the South Carolina Police Officers’ Association “charity raised more than $600,000 in 2002, but spent barely $5,000, or less than one percent, helping police officers and their families.”
With telemarketing it is truly a “Buyer Beware” promotion. Most consumers are probably more skeptical when it comes to this type of promotion than any other. There is the noise factor in this type of promotion as well. The national “do not call registry,” telephone company telemarketing blocker services, and products such as the Telezapper significantly decreases the telemarketer’s sales. I personally just inform telemarketers I am not interested in their pitch and to place me on their “do not call” list. If this doesn’t work, I just hang up.
Another promotional technique is word-of-mouth. When consumers communicate their experiences connected to a particular product, they are essentially providing the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer free advertising. Word-of-mouth can accelerate brand recognition. The heart of word-of-mouth marketing is giving consumers something to talk about. An excellent example of successful word-of-mouth is the Atkin’s Diet. I initially read one of Dr. Atkin’s diet books more than 10 years ago. While I do not remember the name of the book, I do recall I never tried his diet because I dreaded giving up on favorites such as pasta. Last year I was struggling to lose the weight I had gained following a thyroidectomy.
I was running three to five miles per day, counting calories and fat grams and lost absolutely no weight whatsoever in three months. Then two colleagues of mine began losing considerable weight with very little effort. They told me about the Atkin’s diet and that each had lost more than 20 pounds in a month. I started researching the diet on the web and found other testimonials as well. Hordes of people are devoted to this diet. I began the diet and maintained my exercise routine and lost 30 pounds in eight weeks.
The hottest new trend in word-of-mouth marketing appears to be buzz. The buzz marketing described in the BusinessWeek article we were tasked to read appears to be a fad. I don’t consider it an advanced form of word-of-mouth but rather an insidious, deceptive practice. Consumers have a right to feel “cheated” because these buzz marketers are treating the American consumer as if they were complete idiots. Once American consumers figure it out, and they will, it will be gone the way of the sandwich board. No wonder it is referred to as “viral marketing.” Too bad doctors don’t have a cure for this virus.
In review, I discussed mass media’s role in great detail because it is perhaps the most widely used form of promotion. I focused on television commercial advertising discussing how marketers use commercials to inform, persuade, or remind consumers about a particular product or service. Then I discussed how the communication process fits into commercial advertising. I followed with a discussion on who pays for commercial advertising and cooperative advertising. Then I provided a survey example to illustrate how consumers view commercials in regards to their objectivity.
I also discussed telemarketing as a direct marketing approach to promotion. The next topic was word-of-mouth. I discussed how word-of-mouth is essentially free advertising and the heart to its success of giving consumers something to talk about. I ended this assignment with my view buzz marketing. I feel this is a deceptive promotional tactic that appears to be just a fad. Once consumers recognize how they are being used, it will fade into the sunset. Overall, the promotional mix appears to be a driving factor in a product or service’s success.
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