Corporate versus product advertising

Industrial advertising divides itself clearly into product type and corporate type advertising.  Large companies often indulge in corporate advertising where exciting, colourful, highly conceptualised artwork intertwines and blends with clever words.  Smaller companies cannot afford the luxury of corporate advertising and therefore confine their media exposure to product advertisements which are generally regarded as boring by the agency’s creative team.  Boring or not, the advertiser and his agency must take a critical look at how the target market wants to be communicated with.

Industrial buyers and specifiers are pragmatic individuals; consequently, they look for product facts, specifications, applications and quality assurance supported by recognisable local or international standards.  They also look for price indications and contact names within the supplier company.  In traditional advertising terms this does not make for exciting campaigns devised by the ‘creative team’ but there is not a great deal of creativity expected by industrial buyers.

Many creative campaigns that have won first prizes in advertising competitions have failed dismally at the industrial buyer level simply because they do nothing to support the sales marketing team except to vaguely amuse and often to mystify the potential customers.

The greatest motivation for a decision maker to buy or specify a particular product is the fear of buying the wrong product.  The implication is that the industrial buyer will not easily switch to another source of supply unless he is assured that the alternate product will not let him down and make a fool of him.  This fact should be taken into account when industrial advertising campaigns are conceptualised.

Thus, the industrial buyer is rarely impressed or amused by symbolism, humour and abstruse promises that he cannot feel, smell, touch or appreciate in terms of cost savings.

How well are advertisers meeting these demands?

Trade readership market surveys conducted by GK&A into different industries indicate that advertisers and their agencies are generally communicating well with their audiences - around 80% of the readers find the advertising either ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ informative in their decision making. The greatest demand, however, is for more technical information and, where possible, price indications.

The following comments highlight this requirement:


  • Give test results in the advertisement
  • More attention to product and less to photography
  • Copy is too long – give basic facts only
  • Give contact person names and phone numbers
  • Mention product applications
  • Compare old with new product
  • Fewer girls draped over products
  • More about spares
  • More up-to-date information
  • Too many repeat advertisements
  • Ads too interested in own company prestige – not sufficiently customer oriented
  • More colour
  • Ads should relate to particular industry only
  • Too many old products are advertised – not enough new ones
  • Ads should tear out for filing
  • Fewer catch phrases that have no bearing on the product or service
  • Advertisements should appear less frequently, but be of better quality


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