Our guide to advertising
Hotcourses Editor

Our guide to advertising

First published date November 20 2013 Amended date January 13 2015

‘Doo-doo-do-do-dooo… I’m lovin’ it!’ – remind you of anything? Double cheeseburger with fries perhaps? Advertising is about positioning a product in a way that makes people want to buy it or find out more about it. Pretty much everywhere you look there’s advertising. On billboards, on TV, on the radio, on websites – look around this page and you’ll see banner adverts! But what makes an advert work? Why do you remember the McDonald’s slogan more that others? Advertising courses teach you the art (and trust us, it is an art) of promoting a product: how to carry out market research, set a budget, create a campaign and put a killer strategy in place so that a product becomes the ‘must-have’ on the market.


Creative or commercial?

Advertising is big, big business – with lots of different roles within it. Planner, copywriter, art director, producer, account manager, director – there are tonnes of jobs out there and the different types of courses on offer reflect this. The good news is: if you’re not sure which job or area you’re interested in, there are plenty of introductory courses that cover all aspects of the industry.

But if you want to specialise right away, you can do that too. And if it’s dreaming up new ways to promote a laptop or cleaning product (yep, everything needs advertising) that excites you, then take a look at some of the creative advertising courses available. These courses will teach about conceptual thinking, writing, design and teamwork – because most ad ‘creatives’ work in teams of two, with one person the designated copywriter and one person the art director. You’ll learn the process behind working to a client’s brief too, how to pitch your ideas and build a portfolio that best presents your work.


Choosing your course

So, where to begin? Whether you’re looking for a full time course or an evening class, there’s almost definitely something for you. A short evening-class or one-day course can be great if you’re thinking about switching careers or broadening your horizons. Knowing the principles behind presenting products so that they’re more desirable is useful thing to learn whatever what your profession! Meanwhile, full-time courses – many of which include marketing – will help you take your first steps up the ladder to becoming a fully-fledged ad executive. Think about what it is exactly that you want to get out of the course and then begin searching for the one that’s most suitable.  


Getting into the industry

Once you’ve got the skills to make ice look attractive to an Eskimo, it’s time to find a job. Depending on what it is you want to do, there are different routes into the industry. Lots of people find their feet – and career break – by “running”. Agencies and production companies employ runners to run errands and generally help out wherever it’s needed. It’s a great way of getting hands-on experience, getting to know the reality of ‘ad-land’, and finding the right career for you.

If you’re dead set on becoming a creative, you’ll need a partner and portfolio of work to present to agencies. Get that together and you can start contacting people and requesting ‘viewings’. A viewing is your chance to meet with an agency representative and show them your ideas and tell them why you’d make a great addition to the company.


Get connected

Whichever route you choose, build a network of contacts. Do this by keeping in touch with everybody you meet across the industry – including your classmates and teachers. The website LinkedIn provides an easy way of doing this, so make sure you register and connect to people. After all, you never know who might give you that all important big break.


5 of the greatest ad campaigns – ever!

There have been lots of awesome campaigns. Here are five blinders to inspire:


1. Tango: You know when you've been Tango'd

Dreamt up by the agency HHCL in 1991, this series of TV ads featured innocent bystanders drinking from a can Tango before getting slapped round the face or manically kissed by a fat man painted orange. And? It worked. Too well – soon the ad was talked about more than the drink!


2. Cadbury Dairy Milk: Gorilla

This 2007 TV and cinema ad for Cadbury Dairy Milk had the nation on the edge of its seat waiting for… a gorilla to play the drums to a Phil Collins song. The advert was so successful it received 500,000 page views in its first week on YouTube.


3. Comparethemarket.com: Compare the Meerkat

If you don’t know this one, you must live in a cave! First launched in 2009 to promote the price comparison site, comparethemarket.com, the campaign has been so successful that its main character – Aleksandr Orlov – now has its own website and range of merchandise.


4. Guinness: Surfer

Whoever dreamt up horses galloping through gigantic waves alongside Polynesian surfers as a way to promote an Irish stout deserves a medal. And the agency that did – Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO – has won plenty! Voted “best advert of all time” countless times, this 1999 Guinness campaign is still talked about today.


5. Marmite: “Love it or hate it”

In 2006 the innocent yeast extract, Marmite, launched a campaign warning consumers that they’d either “love it or hate it”. Since then that phrase, alongside “the Marmite effect” has woven its way into everyday speech to describe anything that provokes extreme feelings. Now that is the power of advertising!


By Rebecca Hobson

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