Theme 20: Advertising

Part 1-style questions

Examiner: Are there any TV channels in your country that don’t have adverts?
Loraine: No … they’re all commercial channels and show adverts all day long … too many really … and there’s also a lot of product placement going on … especially in soap operas where they place an item just behind the actors.

Examiner: Do you enjoy watching adverts on TV?
Karin: No … not really … I hate commercial breaks during a film … it really spoils the flow … and during prime time viewing they seem to squeeze even more ads in than usual … celebrity endorsements also get on my nerves … everyone knows they’re only doing it because they’re getting paid.

Examiner: What are the best ways for ordinary people to advertise something they want to sell in your country?
Marianne: The simplest way is to place an advert in something like the classified ads section of a local paper … or there’s the Internet of course … there are lots of sites like eBay where you can buy and sell things online.

Part 2-style task

Describe an advert you once saw that was very effective.  You should say

  • where this advert appeared
  • when you saw it
  • what it was advertising

and say why you thought it was so effective.

Max: OK … well this was about 4 years ago … I was looking for some software to create videos … one day I got an email from a mailing list I’d signed up to … there was a link in it to a press release … a company had written something about a new product that was similar to what I was looking for … at the end of the press release there was a link to the sales page … I hadn’t heard of the company but I was interested and clicked the link to the ad …. what caught my attention immediately were the number of testimonials from people who had bought the software … I think testimonials are like the online equivalent of word of mouth advertising and are really persuasive … anyway … when I got to the bottom of the page there was a great big call to action button inviting me to buy … I was totally persuaded and ended up making a purchase … what made it so effective I think was the power of those testimonials … they’d been written by people very much like me … they’d had a need and the software had obviously turned out to be just what they were looking for … when you think that this was a newish company they wouldn’t have had any brand awareness at all  … they probably wouldn’t have had much of a budget for advertising … obviously you wouldn’t advertise a product like this through the mass media on TV … they probably didn’t even have an advertising agency to support them …and yet they’d managed to create a great deal of brand loyalty from previous customers … I think that was really effective.

Part 3-style questions

Examiner: What is it that makes an advert effective?
Spencer: Well … when a company launches a product, they have to consider the Internet … especially how it can be used to spread the word on social media … so in this context a video that goes viral is probably the most effective type of advert you could make.

Examiner: What are the advantages to companies of advertising on the Internet rather than TV?
Stelios: I’d imagine the main advantage is you can reach your target audience much more effectively … if you bring out a niche product for example … or you have a tight advertising budget … you can advertise on particular sites that the people you want to reach visit … that’s not something you can do on TV.

Examiner: What things do advertising companies do that might give it a bad name?
Raol: For me the most irritating is cold calling … we must get two or three of these every day at work … then there’s junk mail that gets posted through the letterbox … and of course the online equivalent of this … spam emails … I think it’s this kind of advertising that tends to annoy people.

Definitions

  • advertising agency: a company that creates adverts for other companies
  • advertising budget: the amount of money a company decides to spend on advertising
  • brand awareness: how well people know a particular brand
  • brand loyalty: the degree to which people continue to buy from the same brand or company
  • buy and sell: often used to refer to the buying and selling of items between individuals
  • call to action: something that encourages someone to take a particular action, such as making a purchase or clicking a link on a website
  • celebrity endorsement: to have a well-known person promote a product
  • classified ads: small advertisements often put in a newspaper or magazine by individuals
  • to cold call: to call someone with the aim of selling something without them asking you to do so
  • commercial break: the short period during TV programmes when advertisements are shown
  • commercial channel: TV channels that make money from showing advertisements
  • to go viral: to quickly become extremely popular on the Internet through social media
  • junk mail: unwanted promotional leaflets and letters
  • to launch a product: to introduce a new product
  • mailing list: a list of names and contact details used by a company to send information and advertisements
  • mass media: large media outlets like TV, newspapers and magazines
  • niche product: a product that is aimed at a distinct group of people
  • to place an advert: to put an advert somewhere
  • press release: something written by a company for newspapers and magazines and websites to share and publish
  • prime time: the time during the viewing schedule when most people watch TV or listen to a broadcast
  • product placement: to advertise a product by using it as a prop in a TV show or film
  • sales page: a page specifically used to promote a product or service
  • to show adverts: to display adverts on TV
  • social media: websites that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.
  • spam email: unwanted, promotional email
  • target audience: the people a company want to sell their product or service to
  • word of mouth: recommendations made by individuals to other individuals about a product of service