An advertising campaign is a systematic effort to achieve some predetermined objectives. It may be a political campaign for elections or a social campaign to raise money, or a systematic effort to promote a product or service.
According to Dunn and Barban “An advertising campaign includes a series of ads placed in various media, that are designed to meet objectives and are based on an analysis of marketing and communication situation”
A company undertakes an advertising campaign in order to rationally analyse the advertising opportunities and communication issues to achieve its sales and profit objectives. An ad campaign is usually guided by the promotion and advertising plans, which evolve from its marketing objectives and Strategy.
Steps in Planning an Advertising Campaign
There are seven steps involved in planning an advertisement campaign :-
(i) Appraisal of Advertising opportunity – According to Neil H Borden there are five conditions which govern the advertising opportunity, if these opportunities are present it will help in achieving advertising objectives if not advertising may not have a positive effect. These five conditions are:-
♦ Presence of positive primary demand – If there is enough primary demand for a product category i.e. the product is in its growth stage the advertiser is more likely to be successful, if not then advertising may fail to achieve sales and profit objectives.
♦ Opportunity for product differentiation – If the product has a good chance to be differentiated from other similar products on the basis of its specific attributes or benefits, there is a good chance that advertising it will be successful.
♦ Hidden or not readily noticeable qualities of a product – If a product has some hidden benefits or complex features which are difficult to understand, advertising will help in successfully communicating these hidden features to the customer and influence their buying decision.
♦ Presence of powerful emotional buying motives – Products with strong advertising appeals may address the emotional motives of a consumer and influence them to make a purchase.
♦ Availability of sufficient funds – A firm must have enough funds to make a noticeable impact in the competitive market through its advertising, if a firm lacks such funds it does not make sense to advertise.
An advertiser must carry out a careful assessment different conditions present in a particular market situation and then decide whether advertising will be fruitful for the company or not. Sales promotion may be helpful in absence of these conditions.
(ii) Analyzing and defining target market – In order to advertise effectively , advertisers must have a clear understanding of the market goals and their advertising objectives. They must explore two basic questions –
- Where we are today?
- How did we get here?
The main task is to find best prospects in respect to demographic characteristics, geographic location and psychological variables and behaviour patterns. The advertisers must strive to know about the lifestyle of the consumer and accessibility of the target market in order to effectively communicate the advertising message reach the right target audience. Defining a target market requires an advertiser to find out answers to the following questions –
- Who buys the product?
- What do they really buy?
- When do they buy?
- How often do they buy?
- How is the product used?
- What are the perceptions or attitudes regarding the brand or product?
(iii) Setting advertising objectives – Advertisers use the hierarchy of effects model (AIDA, DAGMAR, Lavidge and Steiner Model) to set up advertising objectives. Objectives must be set for an advertising campaign as well as for each ad in each medium used. The objectives set are based on the following factors and any change in these factors may lead to a change in advertising objectives. These factors are:-
- Consumer needs and wants
- The extent of product or brand reputation
- Changes in economic scenario
- Changes in marketing environment
(iv) Determining the Advertising Budget – The advertising budget is basically a plan to allocate financial resources to an advertising campaign for future operations and is reviewed constantly keeping in mind the changing marketing conditions. The budget controls the expenditures by fixing a limit.
The budget decisions are usually taken by the top management. A “top down” or “build up” approach may be used by the management for fixing a budget. The advertising activities of the competitors must also be studied in order to set an appropriate budget and maintain the existing market position.
(v) Deciding media and Creative Strategy – The media plan involves decisions about target market, product and its positioning, media and the advertising message in the creation of advertisements. It is developed simultaneously with the creative plan. Media plan determines the best way to reach the target audience, the goal is to communicate the message effectively by finding the perfect combination of media that will cater to a large market at a lower cost.
To develop an effective media plan the advertiser must aim to define the media habits of the target audience and determine the most appropriate medium in terms of reach and frequency. The timing, campaign length, media closing dates, exposure desired must be considered.
The Creative strategy is concerned with what message to deliver for achieving the advertising objectives. The creative process involves development of central theme, idea and image. It is essential that there is similarity and continuity between different advertisements. Similarity and continuity may be visual, verbal, aural or attitudinal. The most common techniques that advertisers use to accomplish similarity and continuity are;-
- In case of print ads using same fonts, logos, pictures, layout
- Using same spokesperson
- Using similar theme, story or character
- Using catch phrases
- Using same music, jingle or voice
(vi) Creating ads, Pre-testing and Releasing ads – After planning an Advertisement campaign team of copywriters and artists create an advertisement according to the media plan, creative strategy and the budget.
Pretesting is important to avoid costly mistakes. Firms now focus on the pretesting of ads by using efficient techniques such as market tests, focus groups, surveys, simulations etc. This is due to –
- Rising costs of media
- Pool of advertising messages competing to get noticed
- Negative impact of the advertisement
(vii) Evaluating the Final Result or Post-testing – It is done to evaluate the final result of the campaign for measuring its effectiveness. It determines to what extent the advertising objectives have been accomplished. It also provides a feedback from the audience which helps in future planning.