Actor Effect: A Study on Historical Figures Who Have Shaped the Advertising Narration

Actor Effect: A Study on Historical Figures Who Have Shaped the Advertising Narration

Bilgen Başal
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7116-2.ch057
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A few advertising masters shaped the advertising industry and each pioneered distinctly different principles of advertising. Legendary advertising masters in advertising history - each with a distinctive style and discourse, created advertising narration on different issues. Albert Lasker created narration on salesmanship in print and reason-why advertising, Claude Hopkins on scientific advertising and pre-emptive claim, John Emory Powers on honesty and plain speaking copywriting, John Wanamaker on retailing, consumerism and effectiveness of advertising, William Bernbach on simplicity, originality and creativity of advertising perception, David Ogilvy on brand image, big idea and creative salesmanship, Leo Burnett on common touch, dramatic realism in advertising and visual imagery icons. By focusing on the story of some great advertising legends mentioned above, this study tries to examine how they have defined and shaped advertising history into the exhilarating one and how they have revolutionized the way business sells its products and consumers perceive the brands.
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Many advertising actors have come and gone, some of them left their records and ideas behind them during the advertising history and established the roots of the modern day advertising agency. There was a time when advertising had in some hands reached the status of a science. It is based on fixed principles, established methods and is reasonably exact. People in advertising business acted basing on effectiveness and well-proven principles (Hopkins, 2003, p.1). And there was a time when creativity in advertising has taken another leap and advertising creative directors valued innovation and intuition over science and rules.

As a multi-disiplinary approach, advertising is a mixture of art and science. Both of them are mutually exclusive and it is possible to bring science and art together. Art is needed to create, science is needed to validate (Todd, 2015). Advertising’s unique ability is to fuse intellectually scientific and creative elements through the understanding and manipulation of human nature. Hugh Burkitt, who is the Chief Executive of The Marketing Society and the writer of Marketing Excellence Book Series, believed that there is a need for both science and art in order to be truly successful in advertising.

Advertising has many gurus, many professors, many mavericks and many geniuses, which were known as the fathers of modern advertising as it’s known today. People in advertising business learn the past, watch the present, and create the future. A few advertising masters shaped the advertising industry and each pioneered distinctly different principles of advertising. For example, David Ogilvy was known as ‘a man of words’, rules and content, and William Bernbach was known as a man of ideas, creativity, and anti-establishment (Waite, n.d.). Others like Mary Wells Lawrence, who was called ‘the force behind one of the most creative shops in the history of advertising‘ by the American Advertising Federation, Jeremy Bullmore, who was, quite possibly, the most admired man in advertising, the great philosopher and the writer on advertising and marketing, Paul Rand, as one of the most famous graphic designers in the World helped convince some of nation’s biggest corporations that good design was good business, Lee Clow, who was referred as ‘the advertising's art director guru’ by Advertising Age made enormous contributions to advertising.

Advertising is a deeply pervasive part of all lives lived in consumerist economies. It is a kind of popular culture, and it is a major way that we learn about and learn how to interpret other kinds of popular culture. Film trailers, for instance, not only seek to sell their cinematic product, but they also hope to shape the way we think about the movie. Advertising is a major mode of socialization, telling us how to think and feel and what problems we need to worry about (Behera & Patra, 2011, pp. 31-45).

There are mainly three categories of advertising objectives: to inform, persuade and remind. Advertising that connects with consumers and creative positive reactions increase the probability of recognition. We can define brand recognition as ‘the moment, where art and science meets’. According to Nick Cohen of New York’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen agency, the essence of all great advertising is connecting people and starting a relationship with brands (Aitchison, 2008, pp. 7-9). Fort his reason advertising has traditionally relied on ‘big ideas’: the concepts, stories and taglines that have helped brands shift product for years. Big ideas must be evaluated for their simplicity, credibility, originality, relevance and emphaty (Koekemoer & Bird, 2004, p. 180). According to John Philip Jones, as written in his ‘Ultimate Secrets of Advertising’ book of 2002, the following four are unquestionably big ideas that have led to changes in the advertising industry:

  • Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins.

  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP) by Rosser Reeves.

  • Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) by Don Shultz.

  • Brand Image by David Ogilvy.

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