Ads vs. Ad Campaigns

If you’re new to the world of advertising, it’s understandable and common to confuse the difference between ads and advertising campaigns. So lets clear up the misunderstanding, shall we? The difference between an ad and an advertising campaign is that an ad is generally a single finished product within an advertising campaign. Advertising campaigns consist of a main theme or “big idea” that is conveyed through many different mediums of advertising during a certain time period.

Advertising campaigns are basically the roots of which an ad later grows. Much more work goes into the actual process of an ad campaign so that the final product, the ad, is appropriate, appealing, memorable, and just as the client envisions their product to be advertised. Also, the ad campaign breaks down the original idea of the theme and ensures that the purpose and the message of each ad are well executed. To do so, the process of creating an advertising campaign contains many steps in order to strategically deliver the main message of the product and reach the appropriate target audience.

Creating an advertising brief (sometimes called a creative brief) is one of the first steps and is imperative to the advertising campaign. A brief may contain background information of the company/client, who their competitors are, a specific audience the client wants to target, which medium will be used to advertise their product or service, their objective or main goal, the strategy or creative message that needs to be said, key points and/or benefits of the product or service, the tone or personality of the product that the ad should display, any “mandatories” that need to be on the final ad such as company logo, slogan, contact info, etc., any additional information, attributions, and of course, a deadline. However, not all advertising campaigns will require all of the items listed above to be addressed in the brief.

After the brief of an advertising campaign is reviewed, edited, and finalized, an actual ad can then be created. Traditional advertising mediums consist of television commercials, radio spots, billboard signs, magazine print ads, newspaper ads, flyers, brochures, posters, and direct mail ads just to name a few. Non-traditional mediums include web banners, guerrilla marketing, digital and interactive media, social media pages, mobile advertising, blogs, and more. Most advertising campaigns create ads specific to each various type of medium, but all have the same theme or central idea.

A good example of a popular advertising campaign is Pepsi Cola’s “Refresh Everything” campaign. Many billboards around Houston (in August 2009) displayed unique words in the same large white font with the same new Pepsi logo in place of the “O” in words such as “Love,” “Hope,” “Joy,” and “Together.” Because of the large white words and the bright backgrounds of these huge billboards, it caught people’s attention and gets them to notice the new Pepsi logo as well as their new “hip” campaign.

An example of a single ad is a BMW billboard which was displayed in Santa Monica, California. The billboard was apparently BMW’s response to Audi’s billboard and was placed on the opposite side of the street where people could clearly see both billboards. In the article found online about this particular ad, one person made a comment that this is probably the dealership’s ad/response to Audi’s billboard and not necessarily BMW’s response.

Example of an Advertising Campaign: Pepsi Co – Refresh Everything

Example of an Ad: Creative Marketing: BMW vs. Audi

(Originally written on August 25, 2009 by Nima Vadgama)


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