Is advertising good or bad?

People love to hate on ads–saying they don’t watch them, skipping over them with their DVR. Ads are defamed as an annoyance to many. Clearly this is the argument that advertising is bad. Yet, as a marketer, I have seen the power of advertising.  Air an ad on for a new product and trial and volume grow, provided the message is clear and compelling. People share a new product that they have heard about with others–likely they heard something about it in an advertisement. Clearly an argument that ads are good.  Even more advocacy for advertising’s virtue is this particular week–Super Bowl Week.  The game is exciting, yes, but there seems to be just as much air time and hype about those beloved Super Bowl ads.  I know that when I don’t have a horse in the race, like this year, my main reasons for watching are: 1) the ads, 2) the half time show.  I will make my quick pitstops during the game as to not miss an ad. As a marketer, one might expect this, but pay attention on Monday morning after the Super Bowl, there will be just as much buzz for the ads as for the game from the general public.  If ads are an intrusion and an annoyance, why then do we look forward to watching them this time each year? 

Ads have redeeming qualities. 

  1. Ads are entertaining (especially during the Super Bowl) and we love to be entertained.
  2. Ads are informative and we love to learn about new things.
  3. Ads reflect our culture and make us feel a part of a common culture which feels good. 

But here is the real secret….we like what we invite in and don’t like intrusions.

So, at the Super Bowl we look forward to the ads and invite them in; but more often than not, ads show up in our lives like an uninvited guest, or worse yet, an intruder.  The key then is to understand when and where the people we want to communicate with are open to our message. It’s called RECEPTIVITY. It is powerful and marketers often overlook it.  

It’s not enough to know what we want to say as advertisers and to say it in an entertaining, informative and culturally relevant manner, we have to also understand in what context or conditions our message might be welcomed into our desired customer’s life.  I have found receptivity is variable, some categories are more welcomed than others. Taking time to identify your receptivity insights and what that means for your advertising plan is critical.  Yes, your desired customer might be present in a moment on TV, but is your brand and category welcomed there–or is there a better moment? You have to push beyond just knowing viewership/eyeballs and understand relevancy of that moment, or receptivity.  Connecting when and where a person is receptive makes your media investment a better one.  When we overhauled P&G’s media focus from being where the most eyeballs were to being where our message was best received (receptivity) we saw a dramatic improvement in outcomes and ROI.  We may not all have Super Bowl budgets, but we all can harness the power of being welcomed in.  


Cindy Tripp


Take Action

 1)Take time to ask your desired customers about when and where they are open to hearing about your category and brand.  Consider their receptivity input as you assess where they are present from a viewership perspective. And, be open to considering that TV may not be the best moment of receptivity for your brand’s advertising messages. Where you show up matters as much as what you say so be intentional in your approach.

2)Have fun watching this Super Bowl Ad 


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