For a successful advertising campaign, the choice of a right advertising agency is matter of prime importance. The choice of a wrong agency can prove to be very costly. The selection of an agency needs a logical approach. The suitability, agency infrastructure, imaginativeness and image of the agency, its management and rates are the basic factors Which are considered during the selection of an agency. The general qualifications for e Selection of an advertising agency are as follows:
The advertising agency is a unique type of business organization that has played a significant role in the development and growth of advertising. Advertising agency is an independent business organization. To promote the business of the advertiser through advertising is the main purpose of the advertising agency. It seeks to advance its clients business. By creating advertisements and delivering them through appropriate media, the agencies implement advertising plans and strategies. An agency represents the core of the advertising profession. It has writers, artists, media experts, researchers, television producers, accounts executives etc.
All these people work together for the success of an advertising campaign. They develop suitable advertising plans and strategies.An advertising agency provides the advertiser a full package of advertising services. It is responsible for the success and failure of a specific advertisement or even a full campaign. The agency involves studying the characteristics and attributes of a product, therefore it can assist the client with various product problems. To improve the sale is the ultimate goal of advertising. Therefore because of its specialization an advertising agency tries to create such advertisements that would be sales oriented. An advertising agency has many specialists dealing in different areas of advertising process. It can react to problems quickly in any of the various aspects of the process, The staff of an advertising agency is professional in the area of marketing and sales promotion and this gives stability and credibility to the advertising profession.
An advertising agency broadly performs the functions of marketing and advertising for which a good understanding of the market as well as knowledge of media, consumer psychology and advertising appeals are required.
The agency prepares or helps in preparing advertisement plans for its clients. This activity requires a thorough study of the clients product or service and its advantages and disadvantages. Market studies are conducted to have data about the buyers. Effective advertisements at appropriate time are important for a successful advertising campaign.
The agency should also analyze the marketing methods and channels of distribution used in the past by its clients and their competitors. Then agency selects suitable media for advertising. Based on the above available data, an agency recommends an advertising plan to its clients for their approval. After the approval of the plan its execution is normally entrusted to the agency.
Although the advertising agencies have increased the scope of their activities, the three basic and most important functions of an agency have remained unchanged. These three functions are:
1. to help the client in planning the advertising campaign,
2. to prepare the advertisements,
3. to place the advertisements in the most suitable media.
Most large advertising agencies now offer a variety of other services in addition to the three basic functions. The most important of these additional services are:
1. advice on marketing and distribution policies,
2. marketing and advertising research services,
3. advice on public relations and publicity.
The creative function remains the core of an advertising agency. In spite of all the additional services, its prime function is to produce effective advertising.
Originally advertisements were produced by a writer and an illustrator. Now-a- days it is more usual for a writer and an art director, to work so closely together that it
would be difficult to decide precisely who has contributed what to the campaign. Nevertheless their basic skills remain exclusive to each one. A copy writer is expert in the use of words and an artist is expert in projecting an idea visually into print or on the screen.
One more salient point regarding the agency’s organizational structure is the racility of an art studio within the agency. A small agency may not have an art studio. The art work in that case is done by hiring an outside arti’st. But a well established advertising agency has a well developed art studio. In developed countries many large companies nave heir own art studios, where product literature is prepared for distribution.
Media selection is an important function of an advertising agency. The most important aspect of media selection is securing the right audience for a given product. The media people of an agency are responsible for choosing the right media mix so as to meet :he advertising objectives. They analyze the target markets and develop specific media strategies in order to reach this market in an optimal manner. They also negotiate, buy and schedule the newspaper or magazine space, TV and Radio time, outdoor media or other r. Methods to deliver the message to the market.
The Need of Advertising Department in an Organizational Structure:
Advertising is a function of marketing and it works in the market for bigger sales of the product. When a firm or Institution decides to launch an advertising campaign or programme, it needs to have a system and an organization to implement it for the achievement of the desired objectives. Therefore large firms and Institutions have an advertising department to manage the advertising function. In small firms, there may not be a separate department of advertising but the function of advertising is looked after by a responsible person or chief executive of the firm. The advertising department usually depends on outside experts, often the advertising agency which prepares the advertisements, selects appropriate media and arranges to release them. This department is responsible for the advertisement budget and supervises the performance of the agency.
An advertising manager has to coordinate with the marketing and sales function so that the advertising efforts may be fully integrated with the firms marketing and sales strategy. He is responsible for the overall planning of the advertising programme, including such decisions as to which products to advertise, which markets to be reached and whether to employ an outside agency. The manager also maintains this programme within the financial and public relations guide lines set down by corporate management.
Most of the firms hire an advertising agency for their advertising programme. In this situation the firm’s advertising manager serves as the liaison person operating between the corporation and the advertising agency. He makes certain that the execution of the programme, which is the responsibility^ the agency is carried out within company policy. It is believed that the agency is not doing good work, a change of agency may be recommended to the management of the company.
The structure of the advertising department is based upon two major patterns. One the functional” pattern in which the advertising department is divided into manageable Sub-functions such as ad-creation, media selection, advertising research etc. In an other form : functional pattern there may be subordinates for each of the functions of sales promotion. public relations, trade advertising and mass media consumer advertising. This pattern r. in specialization which is a major advantage because specialized efforts lead to creativity.
I he sec n d pattern assigns the advertising responsibility to various production or product categories. The basic idea behind the “advertising by products” is that the product manager having particular knowledge about the product is in a very crucial position for the marketing activities pertaining to the product, including advertising. The basic
responsibilities of the product manager include decisions regarding advertising strategies needed to obtain advertising objectives, advertisement creativity, media selection decisions and the management and control of advertising budgets.
In addition to these two basic advertising patterns, the advertising tasks could also be divided along geographical lines or the customers pattern. In division along geographical lines, each geographical territory or sales division has its own responsibility for regional advertising. A local advertising specialist is necessary in this pattern. This pattern is more, appropriate when there are important and distinguishable geographic differences in consumer characteristics or product usage. Its importance is specially highlighted in the field of international marketing of product.
The customer pattern describes a separate advertising sub-section of different types of customers served. For example the industrial customers need a different approach than the consumers. A marble industry may have one department handling the needs of construction material while the other advertising department for handling marble furniture and decoration pieces.
The relation between an advertising department and an advertising agency is very close. Almost all the advertising departments of government institutions and private firms depend on advertising agencies for creating advertisements and launching advertising campaigns. The agencies also need the cooperation of advertising departments for the promotion of their business. Hence a good advertising is a joint venture of an advertising department and an advertising agency.
Radio, Television and the newspapers have also a department of advertising in their offices. The function of this department is to collect and receive different advertisements from the agencies, departments and individuals.
Lack of acceptable code of ethics in advertising is a worldwide phenomenon. Morality in advertising varies from country to country. An advertisement may be morally acceptable in one part of the world, whereas, it may be against the code of morality in another part of the world. Ethics in advertising is a complex issue to define. Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so. For example, sex before marriage in Pakistan is largely considered as immoral, while it is conceded as desirable in the west. Demonstration of birth control method in advertising is undesirable for the religious society in Pakistan whereas the same is mandatory in China. Thus morality in advertising is a complex phenomena. Determination of ethical conduct is subjective and vague and is varying among different cultures and different environmental conditions.
The primary objective of advertising in any society is to influence the independent thinking of the people and change their behaviour. Nevertheless, advertising has also some social responsibilities to inform people of the various choices available and educate them about the superiority of a given product by explaining its characteristics. Thus the consumers can freely decide for themselves as to which product to buy and which product to avoid. There are some areas of concern where advertisers need to be more responsible to community needs. These areas are:
Advertising is considered to be an environmental pollutant: Most advertising is opposed by people because it is difficult to absorb. It is too pervasive and too intrusive in peoples’ personal lives. In this context it is considered a pollutant for mental environment. This is specially true about TV advertising. Television advertising is intrusive as the TV medium reaches a heterogeneous audience of all ages, all educational levels, all religions, all regional and ethnic groups etc. It is often impossible for a commercial to speak openly and constructively to a major section of a TV programme’s audience without seeming inappropriate, boring or even offensive to another segment of the same programme’s audience.
The issues of morals and tastes in advertising: Since advertising is unavoidable, some forms of it may become a burden on the consumer. There are advertisements which may be offensive, misleading or simply annoying. For example, some people who do not drink may consider all liquor’s-advertising as morally offensive. Similarly, in some countries prostitution is legal, but advertisement of prostitutes .is morally offensive. On the other hand, the product itself may not be morally offensive, but its presentation may be in bad taste. Too noisy commercials, overly repetitive commercials and commercials that disregard consumer’s intelligence are considered to be in bad taste. Even though some critics of advertising argue that the advertising is directed towards the audience which is the average mass of people and not the chosen elite. Hence the advertisers advertise what they believe the audience wants to see and hear and they are willing to absorb the
dissatisfaction of a few who may find some advertising below their expected standards of decency. According to Telser, “The critics of advertising deplore the vulgarity and the selfish appeals in advertising. The content of advertising is a reflection of the audience to which it is directed. If we were all philosophers or poets, the content of advertising would change accordingly”. However, inspite of the difference in cultural and educational level of the recipients of such advertisements, it still remains the responsibility and civic duty of the advertiser to truthfully and sincerely inform the consumer of the characteristics and qualities of a product and let the consumer make the decision about buying. So far as advertising and marketing are concerned, the concept of right and wrong, fair and unfair, just and unjust, is reflected either by organisational policies or by society reactions to a given advertisement as a marketing strategy. Archie B. Carroll considers this issue in the following way:
a) Suppose a firm is advertising for vegetable soup on television. Is it ethical to put small marbles at the bottom of the bowl of soup so that the soup will look thicker.
b) A Firm is anxious to sell an electrical appliance. Is it ethical for the firm to offer a bribe to the purchasing agent as an inducement to buy. Suppose that instead of bribe, it gives some money as his commission, does it make the transaction unethical?
A. J. Ayer points out that if a person feels good about an act, then in his view, it is a moral act. For example, using loopholes to cheat on income tax may be immoral from social point of view, but the person who is filing the income tax returns sees nothing wrong with it. Similarly, not joining the army in time of war may be unethical and unpatriotic from the society and the country’s point of view, but the person concerned may consider war as immoral in itself. However this approach has the least significance, since a completely individualised approach cannot be consistently applied in judging all moral or immoral actions. According to the accepted ethical concept, any advertising that violates that truthfulness or uses questionable means could be considered unethical. According to Lacznaiak, an action is relatively ethical if it is based upon either the theory of justice which means protecting the interest of all involved or on a theory of utilitarianism which provides the greatest possible balance of values for all persons involved. The fact still remains that whether it is the “theory of justice” or the “theory of utilitarianism” it is not possible to satisfy all people. If the objective of advertising was simply to inform the people about the qualities of a product and give the people complete freedom of choice, then certain ethical standards in advertising could be maintained. But if the objective of advertising is to “persuade” people to buy the product and change their buying behaviour, then it might need some manipulative tactics to achieve such objectives. In that case emphasis on psychological benefits, slightly exaggerated claims or even puffery might be accepted by our society as ethically acceptable. That is why products advertised as best or most often used or most often recommended by doctors or long lasting etc. may be morally
acceptable. But claims that are designed purposely to mislead and deceive the customer would be considered unethical. Some of these unethical practices are controlled by law in terms of “truth in advertising”. Undocumented false claims are prohibited by law. For example a skin cream cannot be advertised in the form of “your skin will look 10 years younger if you use our cream” unless such claims can be medically proven. To get around it, the advertisers might create a message such as, “this cream will help your skin look younger”. This is a kind of promise rather than a claim even though this promise could also be considered as manipulative advertising.
Because advertising is such an integral part of modern life and its persuasive abilities have great impact on society, the business of advertising messages are scrutinized by many government agencies. Many people feel that the advertising industry should demonstrate more social responsibility. Abuses in advertising can, obviously, have unfortunate effects on consumers, ranging from mis-spent money on an item that did not live up to the expectations, developed in the advertising to hazardous accidents resulting from the misrepresentation of faulty goods. Three major groups exist to protect consumer against misleading or fraudulent advertising.
1. Self Regulations
2. Government Regulations
3. Regulation by the Media.
Details of these groups and regulations are given below:
1. Self Regulations
There are advertising agencies/advertising associations in almost all countries of the world which have framed some self policing regulatory activities. For example the American advertising federation has brought out the following code of ethics: (Since there exists no clear ethical code of advertising in Pakistan, therefore, codes of Advertising of the American Federation are explained for the purpose.)
1. All advertising shall tell the truth about the qualities of the product and all significant facts about the goods or services shall be revealed.
2. All claims made should be substantiated.
3. The advertisements should not be offensive to good taste and public decency.
4. Competitors will not be attacked unfairly about their products or services or their method of doing business.
5. Advertisers shall offer only such merchandise or services which are readily
available for purchase at the advertised price. They shall not indulge in the practice
of “bait advertising” where an inexpensive advertised product is used simply to induce the customers to come to the store and then persuade them to buy the higher priced products.
6. All guarantees and Warranties shall be explicit and easily understandable.
7. False and misleading price claims and savings claims shall be avoided.
8. Advertising shall avoid the use of exaggerated or unprovable claims.
9. Advertising containing testimonials shall
2. Government Regulations
Different newspapers, magazines, TV and radio organizations apply various criteria for self policing. For example, majority of the magazines usually consider the following factors:
a) The desire to protect readers of the magazine and potential customers from exploitative or dishonest advertisers. For example, the American magazines maintain a panel of technicians to test products before advertising them in the magazines and giving them the “seal of approval”.
b) Many magazines do not accept advertisements that do not confirm to the taste of their audience. Sexy advertisements may be gratified for “cosmopolitan’ magazine but not for “Readers digest”.
c) Most magazines respect the standards of advertising that they have set for themselves. Similar to magazines, all TV and radio networks maintain departments that judge and censor commercials for levels of acceptability.
The American direct Mail Advertising Association maintains a “standards of Practices Committee” to ensure that no objectionable materials are mailed by members. The Outdoor Advertising Association of America sets standards for billboards and poster advertising.
3. Regulation by the Media.
There are certain regulations which are exercised by state governments in a number of countries. The regulations that are involved in controlling various forms of advertising and other malpractices are:
a) Food and Drug Administration: It controls marketing of goods, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices or any other potentially hazardous consumer products.
Mosi governments regulate advertising indirectly by utilising the power to grant and withdraw broadcasting licences.
c) Postal service: It regulates material that goes through the mail, primarily in the areas of obscenity, lottery and mail fraud.
d) Di fferent countries have established different departments that regulate registration of trade marks, control the protection ot copyrights, regulate deceptive advertising of liquor and tobacco and there are departments which enforce all Federal Laws through prosecuting all such cases that are referred by other government agencies.
A feature story is any piece of writing that falls between the cut-and-dried news story on the one hand, and the w holly fictionalized story or opinionated essay 011 the other hand. It is the product ol tactual reporting and reporting to which are added story elements of imaginative writing and interpretation. The special feature article is similar to news story in that it gives the readers facts in an interesting form. But it goes beyond those facts by multiplying them with study, research, and interviews to instruct, guide and entertain the readers who know about the subject as well as those who do not know.
Feature stories can be news stories. Features can be investigative. Features can be in-depth studies. Features can be for fun. The subject can be anything: places- a community, a farm, a business, topics-education, science, economy, religion, philosophy; events-parades, programmes, concerts; people-well known or unknown animals-unusual or ordinary; objects-art or product. In Other words, features can be about anything, you want to write about.
A feature story is a creative, sometimes subjective article designed primarily to entertain and to inform readers of an event, a situation or an aspect of life.
CHARACTERISTICS OF FEATURE STORIES
Following are some of the most important characteristics of feature stories:
1. They may inform, instruct and advise, but their primary purpose is to entertain the readers. They are usually read after the news and in leisure moments.
They are factual, and require reporting.
They may or may not be timely. If they are timely and related to a current news event, they are likely to appeal more to readers.
They may be written in any form and style. The only criterion is that the form and style be appropriate to the contents and purpose of the story.
They permit the reporter to use his/her knowledge and ingenuity to write a story original in ideas and treatment.
They rarely have news leads. Instead, they more often have novelty leads.
They usually strike the keynote in the opening sentences, which permit the readers to come into quick contact with the story and become interested.
They usually are not cut in make-up. Thus, the reporter may use any devices of the fiction writer: suspense, dialogue, description, narration, climax, and the like. The inverted pyramid does fit the purpose of a feature story.
They require the writer to apply his/her imaginations to the facts, yet they are not fiction.
10. Tilley apply all principles of effective writing to achieve unity, coherence, and emphasis.
11. They usually can be improved by rewriting to eliminate all writing faults. For example, stodginess, verbosity-, abstractness, monotony and absence of rhythm, etc.
12: They bring readers as close as possible to the experience or idea of the story. The reader feels himself as a part of the story.
Techniques of WRITING THE FEATURE
A feature is seldom written in the traditional Inverted pyramid pattern. Feature may be written in a narrative fashion, much like a good joke of anecdote. The good feature requires as much organization as the straight news story, for the feature has to flow smoothly and parts of a feature story must be kept intact if it is to succeed. In the well-planned story, every paragraph, every sentence, should add to the total effect
The lead much attract immediate attention and pull the reader into the story. Leads can vary in style and content. You can use description, narration, dialogue, question, unusual statement, call to action, comparison-contrast.
No matter how good the lead is, you need a solid transition into the body of the feature. If you think of the lead as a lure to attract the audience, then the transition .ets the hook. It makes the reader want to continue. And it promises some kind of satisfaction or reward. The reward can be entertainment, information or self- awareness but has to be something of value to the reader.
Sound knowledge of the subject, coupled with good writing skills, will let you take the reader through a variety of experiences. You should use the standard writing devices of crisp dialogue, documentable but vivid fact and detail, careful observation, suspense and if appropriate, plot.
The conclusion should give the reader a sense of satisfaction You need to tie the conclusion to the lead so that the story has unity. Often you can do this_ through a short, tight summary, Occasionally, you can conclude with an anecdote or a quote that sums up the substance of the story. With a narrative approach, you build toward a climax.
If a reporter asks how long. a feature story should be. the editor may reply, “as long as you keep it interesting.” Feature stories vary in length from two or three paragraphs to 15 or 20 triple-spaced sheets of copy. Readers interest is the main yardstick by which they are judged. And editors are paid to accurately asses, leaders interest.