Image Advertisements: An Underrated Technique to Overcome Your Competition

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Posted At: September 27, 2010 12:43 PM
by Jessica West

Businesses do all they can to build strong company-client relationships during tough economic times. With reduced advertising budgets, companies turn to messages that strengthen their reputations. In these situations, image advertising seems to be more beneficial than advertising that simply aims to sell a product or service.

“Image advertising can alter a misconception, change a company’s reputation or often help cement a relationship between the advertiser and its target audience by building brand loyalty and a rapport with their audience,” said Leigh Leigh Tortorici, senior marketing representative for the Alabama Press Association.

Public relations and advertising can often be mistaken for the same thing. While advertising is simply a paid selling technique, PR is one that builds a mutually beneficial relationship with a business and a public; however, in some instances, they can be one and the same.

“Any advertising is about getting your name in front of your target audience where repetition is key, and image ads seem to convey the message that this is a company who is here and going to stay for the long-haul … someone you can count on in the future,” Tortorici said.

In 2004, Dove launched its Campaign for Real Beauty, which used real women not to sell a product, but to advance female ideals of beauty, a technique that Seth Stevenson called a “smashing success” in his Slate article “When Tush Comes to Dove.”

“These ads are real attention getters — everyone’s talking about them,” Stevenson said. “Also, Dove now owns the ‘friend of the everywoman’ angle. Smart move on their part to spot this open niche and grab it.”

Not only do these PR ads send the message that companies genuinely care about the message they’re sending, but they also demonstrate that their targeted audience responds better to ads that are more inclusive to them.

In December of 2007, IBM released its “Stop Talking, Start Doing” campaign, which featured commercials highlighting its movement to become a more energy efficient, eco-friendly company. Now, its website provides suggestions for becoming “green” in order to combat energy- and climate-related issues.

“I would say that ‘image’ advertising is more of a necessity for organizations that sell services, but can be just as effective for selling products by building on that company-client relationship,” Tortorici said. “It’s very important to remind customers that you’re behind the scenes, working to make that service better and easier to use.”

Public relations advertising helps companies get ahead of their competitors. When executed correctly, such campaigns shape the public’s perception of a company in a favorable way.

If image ads work, why aren’t more organizations taking advantage of them?

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