Advertising, Like Burning Money!

Heh! I had a discussion with a friend the other day and he told me that he thought advertising was like “burning money.” He read newspapers and magazines and didn’t even realize the ads were there.  I began to wonder about my choices when Andy noted the following:

I’m a runner. I buy running shoes and have used all kinds. Frankly they are pretty much the same, at least to me. I wear Nike. There is a reason for that. It is the hundreds of millions that the company spends on advertising.

Of course that is the case. Companies advertise for many reasons. Sometimes like Nike, you goal is to change people’s buying habits, in other cases companies talk to their customers. They want their customers to feeling confident in them and show them (piece of the rock) that they are solid and will be there. They want their customers to feel comfortable with them (in good hands), or maybe they simply want to be remembered when someone is hungry (McDonalds, Olive Garden, Jack in the Box).

When I was in high school I traveled to Europe one summer. I was going alone and a bit shaky about the idea of flying by myself. I was sitting on the plane in New York and looked out the window and saw the logo of the airline on the plane next to us. It was a familiar AA. I began humming their jingle “Something Special in the Air.” It worked. I felt confident, knew there would be no problem on the trip.

Without advertising how would new products get launched? How would we hear about the latest hybrid, or the features of a new cell phone or frankly, who has the latest feature in their revenue control system that might solve a problem I have in my garage?  How would you know — word of mouth? Saw it at a friend’s house? Wandered down the street looking in store windows (which in themselves are a form of advertising, and along with billboards, hang tags, trailers in movies and signs are called appropriately enough, ‘out of home’ advertising.  You see it on the back of some tickets you get when you enter a garage.)

Is some advertising stupid and vapid, of course. Does it do any good to have an ad that doesn’t even tell you what the company does? Depends — if its Nike, the check mark-like “swoosh” may be all that is necessary to call the product to mind. Logos are important. Who on the planet wouldn’t know CocaCola’s script or McDonalds Golden Arches.

We know those and many others simply because of repetition and the company’s attention to detail. Corporate “Logo Police” and herds of attorneys ensure that Mickey and Minnie stay in Walt Disney’s stable and that only Lexus uses its stylized “L”.

Obviously those of us in the parking business want good information about products and services and advertising is a way for us to get it. You can read about the newest technology in parking meters, parking systems, or enterprise systems in PT, and you may not need it today. But when your boss comes in with some harebrained idea, you will remember where you saw the information and be able to find it quickly.

My “burning money” buddy isn’t convinced and so be it. While he continues to ask why those idiot customers of his are moving to his competitors, I’ll just smile and show him the magazine. Maybe some day he’ll figure it out.


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