“To communicate is to be human.” Word of mouth, which has been the original mode of communication, remains the most persuasive form of advertising. Its impact has greatly amplified with the advent of social media.
Advertising has evolved significantly since the time when voice was the primary means of communication, all the way to our current era of the internet. Below are some of the major developments that have contributed to this transformation.
The above developments have had a profound impact on communication and shaped the manner and the means we use for advertising.
The Coca-Cola print advertisements depicted in Exhibit 12.3 reflect the transition over the past 100 years. Technology has significantly impacted the evolution of advertising, enabling sharper images and more vibrant colours than in the past. While text used to dominate, modern ads rely more on associations. Advertisements used to be informative, but now they strive to evoke a wide range of emotions. Simple messages have given way to more complex ones. Furthermore, advertising campaigns today are distributed across a variety of conventional and new media channels.
The use of text has declined partly because in an over-communicated world people have stopped reading commercials. They are also more cynical about advertising and are less inclined to believe the claims that appear in text. Visuals on the other hand leave behind images and symbols that subtly associate brands with emotions, feelings, values, and an array of diverse attributes.
Consider, for instance, Coca-Cola’s “Small World” multimedia campaign of 2013. The advertisement shown in Exhibit 12.3 draws one’s attention to the symbols — a bindi on the forehead, the mark of Hinduism, the dupatta covering the head, which is commonly worn by women in Pakistan and India, and the Coca-Cola mnemonic between the two faces. The message “That what unites us is stronger than what divides us” is highlighted in the online campaign and a sense of “togetherness” is imparted through the “Small World (vending) Machines” that Coca-Cola installed at New Delhi and Lahore. The campaign as a whole associates the Coca-Cola brand with values and feelings that people cherish — togetherness, happiness, harmony and peace.
Some of these thoughts and feelings were initially conveyed in previous Coca-Cola ads. In particular, one is reminded of lines from a 1970s Coca-Cola commercial — “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company”.
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