Advertising: Misused and Abused


Understandable, but misguided.

Sympathy and empathy being shared with, and among those business owners and managers who despair because their “advertising is not working” are laudable. They are also, in many instances, misplaced.

Worth of advertising cannot, and should not be solely measured and monitored on revenue and increments in sales. Relationships between increased advertising expenditure and activity, and static or falling sales may be casual rather than causal.

The appropriate and actual role of advertising content is to advertise. Seldom is it, in isolation, to achieve and conclude sales. That is the role of the sales function and sales functionaries. They have key complementary and supportive roles to advertising.

So too do the initiatives centred on public relations, promotions, merchandising and service.


It seems incomprehensible that, in periods of declining demand, increased competition and slowing sales, that some managers will simultaneously decrease advertising, while reducing staff numbers, inventory, promotional, public relations, merchandising and service activities, with the objective of generating more sales, revenue and profit.

Little wonder, that some advertising professionals feel exposed, vulnerable, isolated, misunderstood and inappropriately utilised.

The marketing discipline has 20 components, of which advertising is just one. Inter-changeability in the use of the words and disciplines of advertising, sales, promotions, merchandising, public relations and service is common but fundamentally flawed. They should be complementary, integrated and interactive.

Only then can opportunities, sales, revenue margin and profits be optimised.

Further impact, resonance and relevance can be achieved with the recognition, respect and application of a natural sequential flow between those different dimensions.

I feel (sorry, sympathetic and empathetic) for those who do not understand the nature of advertising, rather than for those enduring poor sales, revenue and profit. The latter measures are often a consequence of the poor use of the former (advertising).

Barry Urquhart
Marketing Strategist


Barry Urquhart, MD Marketing Focus, Perth, is the author of Australia's top two selling books on customer service and is an internationally recognised authority on consumer behaviour and creative visual marketing.

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