Persuasive Approaches
Updated 14 August 2015

Selecting the approach for an ad is a strategic decision.  In essence, an approach is your plan of attack.  Here are some of the most frequently used advertising approaches:


This is where you show the product in action.  In television, demonstrating a product is relatively easy.  However, on radio, creative use of words and sound may be needed to convey the message.  For example, using the sound of sandpaper on wood to indicate the dirt and grit left behind by Brand X.  Among the many kinds of demonstration ads are problem/solution ads (A clear statement of what the product or service can do for the consumer), before/after ads (showing cause and effect), and side-by-side ads (When you make such a comparison, the Federal Trade Commission has said it has to be fair, accurate and documented).
Product as Star
The product dominates every scene of the print ad or television commercial.  In radio, this can be accomplished through excessive repetition.
Location as Star
Make a location the attention grabber.  It can be somewhere exotic (Hawaii) or interesting (robotic automated assembly line).
A quick way to draw attention to a product is to have someone famous serve as its spokesperson.  Again, accuracy is required.  ("Hello.  I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV.")  A Federal Trade Commission ruling requires that spokespersons actually use the product if they say they use it.  The use of a spokesperson is a double edged sword.  You can get the benefit of a celebrity's popularity.  (Who is the basketball player in the high-priced sneakers?)  However, you can also be hurt if the celebrity falls out of public favor.  (And just who was that who used to "fly through airports?")
Several brief episodes threaded together to drive some the same point.
Sometimes the man or woman on the street has more credibility than a celebrity.  Using the words of people who actually use the product or service can be very effective.  However, these people must be compensated for their testimonials.  The Federal Trade Commission has said it is all right to use an actor to play a “real person,” just as long as it is made clear that it is, in fact, an actor portrayal.
Slice of Life
Usually a twist on an everyday occurrence.  The audience should be able to relate to it.
Chances are that you have heard someone say something like this: "You know, there isn't any difference between Coca Cola and Pepsi."  To be certain, there are some real differences between the two products.  But, for many people, they are insignificant.  So why does one person choose Coke and the other choose Pepsi?  It often comes down to the image each has projected: Coke as "the real thing" and Pepsi as "the drink of a new generation."  In many instances, a product may be so well known that all that is necessary is to remind the consumer of it.  Commercials that sell an image rather than a product can be very effective.  However, they tend to fail if the product isn't well known or has another established image.  (Remember the champion of alternative meats, "Spam.")

Return to JOUR 304

Return to JOUR 560

Return to Professor Guth's Home Page