Are you a "slave" to the Advertising Icon?

Dos Equios icon, Jonathan Goldsmith
Dos Equios icon, Jonathan Goldsmith

Why are things the way they are?

(Writer's note--this is a hub that talks about advertising symbols and the products they represent. This hub is in no way a personal endorsement of any of the products in the photos. Thanks. Kenneth).

It's the way things have always been in television advertisements. Huge companies spend billions with equally-big advertising agencies mostly-located in New York City, to get you and I to see, hear, and remember their company and whatever item or service they are selling. It would seem to be that simple.

Did this caveman really sell more insurance for GEICO than a human?
Did this caveman really sell more insurance for GEICO than a human?

Look beyond the ad icon

But is it? No. Not like the early days of advertising when we would see "Eat at Joe's" written with barn paint on a wooden fence that stood along the sidewalk in one of the businest parts of town. Or how about the simplicity of that same guy, "Joe," who owned the cafe in that one-line ad, "Eat at Joes," who one day hired an unemployed man to walk up and down the sidewalk in that same busy part of town while wearing a sandwich sign (no pun intended) with "Eat at Joe's" on the front and back?

I think that this is where today's seemingly-endless barrage of media ads and mix-in those well-lit billboards that almost block our view, and wham bam, there goes another million bucks into the big company and big ad agency's always-open hands to retrieve our cash we have spent on their product advertised so much that we almost felt brainwashed into buying those "New! Improved! Super, Long-Lasting Men's Briefs made From the Newly-Discovered Wonder Material: Astro-Tarp Guaranteed to Last a Lifetime! We Stand Behind Our Promises!"

What is the "hook" in this ad?

Post Crispy Critters-- what was their "hook?"
Post Crispy Critters-- what was their "hook?"
Dean Winters, "Mayhem," Allstate insurance
Dean Winters, "Mayhem," Allstate insurance

What draws you to a product?

We seen and heard that one ad so much that we could quote the ad word-by-word. But that was the entire idea of the ad. Throw in the spokesman for the "Handy Dandy Bommer Brief Company," a Super-Man-type of guy who is built better than former-Mr. Universe (of years ago), Dave Draper, tan and all. His name is "Billy Brief," and that is all he is wearing in the television ads, a pair of "Handy Dandy Briefs," with a pair of work boots worn by the blue collar construction workers always whistling at girls in New York City.

So . . .there is the "You can trust this product," hook, "Billy Brief," with that great toothy-smile and perfectly-combed blond hair. I mean, if this were reality, hey, I would buy a case of these amazing briefs. You never know when you will need extra briefs and since the ads said that they will last a lifetime, what a deal I would get.

Before I pass by the real subject of this story, please allow me to point out that this "Billy Brief," character, if real, would first, get our attention and when we hear the brief-but-believable ad script, we would have "Handy Dandy Bommer Brief Company," lodged in our heads and the moment after we see this television or radio commercial, we couldn't get "Billy" out of our thoughts. This was the plan of the ad agency that the "Bommer Brief Co.," paid over 20-million dollars to accomplish this task.

A true advertising classic

This red and green rooster always stood for Kellogg's corn flakes
This red and green rooster always stood for Kellogg's corn flakes

Another type of advertising dollar

To seal the deal, the brief company threw in an additional 10-million bucks for the ad agency to buy up magazine ads (preferably Sports Afield, Sports Illustrated, mostly men-based magazines) and a few print ads in the nation's highest-circulated daily newspapers. Ad agencies and advertising itself gives validity to the saying, "to make money, you got to spend money."

In my working days, I spent 23 years in the newspaper business and that included designing display ads, selling display ads and dealing with huge ad agencies as I mentioned in the above paragraphs and I didn't really understand how a huge company can spend over $5-million dollars a week, estimated, and reap over $20-million dollars in sales and profits. (e.g. the early beginnings of the Coca-Cola company). It would seem to me that if a company is already worth in the billions, just scrimp, save, and manage your bottom line.

Spending "does" make money

But if Coke had followed "my" laymen's advice, we would not have "The Real Thing" with us today. Or the Pepsi Generation frolicking and playing volleyball on the beach.

Another ploy of America's huge corporations is to spend big bucks just to keep us from listening or seeing their competitor's newest soda or feature for our car we bought thanks to a television ad we saw just last night. "Audience Protection," is what this ploy is called in some advertising circles. We might look upon this as a silly, insecure business act, but watch your television tonight and count the number of McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's ads. Are they all pushing a new, revolutionary burger? No. They are mostly keeping your interest at peak level and creating disinterest in you to see what the other fast-food giants are talking about.

"Some" ads simply flop

Morris, the cat--9 Lives catfood
Morris, the cat--9 Lives catfood
Charlie, the tuna--Starkist tuna
Charlie, the tuna--Starkist tuna

Any "green hand" advertising agency employee or freelance ad designer will tell you that even with the always-changing genre of multi-media advertising strategies and plans, there are the basics that are always present:

  • 1.) The attention-compeller, or "hook."
  • 2.) The brief "tell-all' about the product--who uses it and how many; what makes "this" product better than the nearest competitor's product.
  • 3.) The "declaration to buy" this product and by using the operative-words: "Now," "Hurry," and lines like: "This product will not last long."

* and while the commercial or radio "spot" is running, there is a special company symbol to always keep "the" advertising company name present in your memory and on radio, a cute jingle or sound that first is so annoying, you sing or hum it all day, then end up buying that product and you really do not know why.

What is your All-time Favorite TV commercial, Radio spot or Print ad?

  • Where's The Beef?--Wendy's
  • "It's like I am not wearing nothing."--Leggs
  • "It's Miller Time."--Miller beer
  • Other
See results without voting
Ed Reimers--Allstate insurance. "You're in good hands with Allstate."
Ed Reimers--Allstate insurance. "You're in good hands with Allstate."
Mrs. Olsen--Folger's coffee
Mrs. Olsen--Folger's coffee
Pillsbury Dough Boy
Pillsbury Dough Boy

Read below text carefully

This, my friends, is effective advertising.

Before I go, I have three final questions about advertising to ask you:

  • 1.) Would you buy a famous company's product if their symbol were not on the ad?
  • 2.) Would you think that your favorite soda, chicken, burger or car was the same "if" their jingle or icon was not in the ad somewhere?
  • 3.) Would you really be satisfied with your product, but all the while think it was a "knock-off," of the real thing?

These are important questions to ask yourself the next time you are out on a shopping spree. Why should you ask yourself this question? Well, you could end-up saving money if you see a product under another name that does the same thing as your slightly-higher priced product does and you just might be more-satisfied with that product that you have been passing by all of this time.

Are you ready to have your eyes opened?

Finally. Ask yourself this question: "Honestly, why am I really buying this product?" Is your answer:

  • 1.) I saw it lots in an ad on television or heard it a lot on radio.
  • 2.) I believed what "a" focus group (hired by the product's company) said.
  • 3.) I saw others buying the product, so it had to be good.

If you answered with 2.) or 3.), get some backbone and independence about yourself, because sometimes, even in the world of advertising and the products it sells, "following the crowd," can cause you to be dissatisfied and lacking of money.

More by this Author


Comments 8 comments

Ghaelach 22 months ago

Morning Kenneth.

I have never seen a real red and green rooster or hen in my life except on TV.

If you where to ask me what I'm doing, I can only answer I'm watching the game and having a Bud, real cool like True. lol

I could really scream at some of these advertising TV breaks that we have. What you have today over there in the US as adds, we get some six (6) months later.

Good hub Kenneth, keep um coming.

Take care and have a good week.

Jimmy......................aka Ghaelach


ladyguitarpicker profile image

ladyguitarpicker 22 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

Hi Kenneth, I hate commercials and turn off the sound whenever one comes on. The sound just gets louder. They put so many commercials on you could forget what you were watching on ABC. Great Hub, Stella


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 22 months ago

Hey, you're talking to the person who used to write ads and try to twist people's arms. I would much rather have seen Joe Namath in the pantyhose commercial than Juliet Prowse. LOL I loved Morris but my cats preferred Meow Mix. Seriously, I frequently buy store brands and don't fool with the advertisements. I keep the remote handy and mute the commercials. Message to TV: I might not mute the commercials if they didn't blast me out of my chair. You have some great points, my friend Ken. Voted up++


vkwok profile image

vkwok 21 months ago from Hawaii

To me, TV commercials are never a welcome sight.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 21 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

vkwok . . .Wow! Thank you for being so honest.

I appreciate you!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 21 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Ghaelach,

Thank you so much for your comment which I found so funny and truthful.

Yes, some commercials are not worth the bucks that are spent on them.

I wish I had the power and money to film a commercial from a totally-honest viewpoint.

General Motors: We are Not the Only Car Company . . .what a slogan.

I have more.

Thanks again for the visit and maybe you and I could start our own ad agency and call it Honest Ads or No Ads R Us.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 21 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Ladyguitarpicker,

You are one smart girl. I love the idea of muting the commercials.

There's this one ad in my area from Jack's, an Alabama-based hamburger restaurant chain.

They have this 8-year-old kid named Jimmy who was either told to be a spoiled brat or he is being himself.

One guy told me that Jimmy might be the CEO's grandson or something. He, Jimmy, causes me to NOT want to hear what he has t say.

Thanks for your comment, dear friend.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 21 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, MizBejabbers,

You are right. I forgot. I too wrote ad copy for display ads in the paper I worked for and for radio spots later. I did my best to get my advertisers to tell the cold truth, but they balked on that and said to make such and such bolder etc.

I just did what I was told. And didn't like the childish-copy . . ."You come on out now to AIR store now open on Sattiday for YEUR convenience." I almost vomited. I kept an argument going with my boss, "Who is the boss, me or them?" He would take their side all of the time.

I know they paid our salaries, but by their stupidity, our town was judged as bumpkins to newcomers.

Am I right?

Thanks again for being my Dear Friend, Follower and Great hubber.

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