26 August 2010

Take 2: Define "advertising" in one sentence

In April we reported on a LinkedIn discussion where 200 respondents each tried to define “advertising” in one sentence. There was no consensus other than advertising has many definitions.

In the past week or so, someone restarted the conversation and we now have more than 360 responses. Talk about a long tail.

The absolute latest industry thinking

Here were some of the more interesting recent responses:

Bill Murphy, paraphrasing Claude Hopkins: “Advertising is salesmanship in print – the only purpose of advertising is to make sales.”

Ana Placinta, with a nod to branding: “Advertising is when a crispy brown beer becomes the Guinness beer.”

Al Shultz, pointing out a fundamental task: “Advertising is differentiating your product/service from everyone else’s.”

Anthony Butler, who understands channel planning: “The right message to the right customer at the right time.”

Damian Jozane, who understands common sense: “Advertising is finding what people know, but nobody has said.”

What is your definition of “advertising” in one sentence?

My answer appears in the LinkedIn discussion and in my last post on this subject. What is your definition of “advertising” in one sentence?

Please use the space below to add your thoughts. Maybe we’ll keep it to less than 100 answers.


  1. Encouraging, persuading and/or brow beating a consumer to love, adore, desire, act upon and acquire.

  2. Someone you may be familiar with said advertising is "what you do when you can't go see somebody. That's all it is."

    And another person, far more quoted and from a different agency, said "The purpose of advertising is to sell. That is what the client is paying for and if that goal
    does not permeate every idea you get, every word you write, every picture you take, you are a phony and you ought to get out of the business."

  3. Advertising is an attempt to cause a reaction.

  4. Advertising: a form of Chinese water torture unbeknownst to the clients

    Just ask Old Spice about their post-superbowl sales #. Har friggin har.