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Advertising and consumer experience

Bernard Okhakume

Advertising practice is enjoying a cloud of darkness that shields it from reckoning, such that gives it the undue advantage of over other offerings when it comes to value consideration.

Whereas its engagement is predicated on value rating and proposition, it does not go through the scrutiny of evaluation. The shield for it is embedded in glamour and noise so much so, the dint deafens and blinds even those who should call it to question.

Over time, and in the name of creativity and innovation, advertising has evolved into varying references that further deepen its hideout. As advertising practice, some refer to it as integrated marketing communications; some simply refer to it as brand management, and so on. But for the purpose of our consumer public, we shall rest it at Advertising.

As with every commercial offering, advertising is about value creation, a commercial engagement that is value-based; as with any given brand, advertising should be rated for the quality of its promise.

Unfortunately, that should be seen as an investment of resources. As mentioned above, however, its nature and characteristics keep it away from direct evaluation (and impact assessment) because it is invincible.

Interestingly, advertising is structured to question values. The modus for an ideal professional practice structures the entire process of advertising on seeking answers to questions of value.

That is, the real and derivable value of own brand, that competitive consideration of own-brand versus competing offering, the WHO for the offering, market expectation, size of market in view of the rated offering or proposition, etc. Advertising asks all the questions in the process of engagement. `

The missing question is what is advertising offering? What is the value of its proposition? How its value offering compares with a competitive offer? What is it contributing in real sense…? So many questions. Our Consumer in this case is split into two: advertisers and the public to whom advertising messages are directed.

From its base position as a form of communication, the parameters for value assessment starts from Information. Advertising is about information, hence the standard curriculum of mass communication as a study discipline subsumes it.

Advertising is commerce-based communication, patterned to stimulate market growth and development by facilitating consumer-brand (not-so-branded offerings) interaction. It enables commercial interface by information.

However, advertising as a pattern of communication is in itself based on value. Broadly, the critical considerations are efficiency and effectiveness.

As a profession, it is structured to deliver on value, such that its efficiency and effectiveness are by themselves demonstrative of the systematic application of set rules leading to operative standard.

Therefore, among others, value expectations from advertising practice and products must deliver on clarity of message, credibility of information, dependability, and instructional guide.

Advertising messages must engage stakeholders on the very critical value touch-point of credibility and reliability. It is on the basis of credibility and reliability that a consumer can assuredly make rewarding buying decision at the market place.

Therefore, advertising messages must be clean of deceit, misrepresentation, sincere persuasion, healthy competition. Advertising messages should not communicate a promise its brands cannot deliver on.

Advertised retail price must be same with that which obtains at the place of purchase. Use of models must be true and appropriate; claims about quality and value must be sincere and deliverable…and so on.

It is on the basis of set standards we seek to evaluate the contribution of Advertising practice and product offering to consumers’ wellbeing. What does it really add?

To advertisers (investors in advertising), it must deliver on promise. The problem with critical evaluation at this level is that majority of those who should ask questions don’t know the parameters for evaluation.

Every advertising investment should be guided by specific objective. In most cases, objectives are either not established or misplaced.

In the face of either situation, the glamour of advertising dazzles in form without substance. If for instance, an investment in advertising is targeted at image management among specific market segment, there must be agreed parameter to measure the returns on that investment.

By reason of statistical data, the effectiveness and efficiency employed in the management of that investment will reflect on the final appraisal.

Interestingly, advertising process appreciates that level of responsibility with practitioners, and has established a careful systematic approach building up to its service or product delivery.

The entire strategic and creative process (with the back-check mechanism) is self-critical on propriety.

A practitioner must determine the destination of every such engagement from the start point; the process must identify the marketing or communication objective, the target audience, cost of engagement and anticipated result.

A culmination of the above makes up the parameter for value appreciation of advertising expenditure and agency, for advertiser.

On target audience for advertising service and product, advertising messages and product must inform, enlighten and advise for objective-drives buying decision-making; what is the benefit of an advertising messages if it is deceptive?

Of what value is an advertising message accentuating the promises of a pharmaceutical product by a deceptive use of human model kitted in the costume of medical practitioner? Such deceptive use of models distorts the target consumer’s sense of judgment because of the natural believability attached to the person of a medical practitioner.

Such deceptive use of models is forbidden in advertising, but today we see them being used. They compromise the consumer’s safety and rights.

What is the value contribution of advertising practice and product to Consumers’ wellbeing?
Brand owners must ask questions, institutional stakeholders must take responsibility to protect the consumer against bad quality advertising.

Consumers must protect themselves against bad advertising products. Every advertising message must be put to the test to ascertain its level of credibility.

For instance, there many consumer reward promotion campaign going on across media spectrum currently, but our fear is that many of them are not delivering on their promises.

The Advertising Practitioners’ Council of Nigeria (APCON), Consumer Protection Council (now Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC) should find a way of determining the sincerity of such promises for the interest of Consumers. Advertising should be called accountability. (The Guardian)

  • Okhakume is Managing Director/Lead Consultant, Markestrides Communications Limited 
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