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The Continuing Power of Mass Advertising-HBR article review

 Main Point/ Introduction

This article has put forth new strategies of reaching mass consumers with cost-effective messages without interrupting people.  Basically, consumers have fed up with tradition mass media ads such as TV, and digital, outdoor as well one-to-one marketing approaches. This consumer attitude which resulted into low recall rates has urged marketers to embrace new marketing tactics to build their brands. Thus marketers are suggested to use an in-between cost effective approach rather than two extreme approaches of mass advertising and micro-marketing. This approach involves four strategies of Catching People in the Bottlenecks, using a Trojan horse, Targeting People at Play and Getting People to Play. These strategies in contrast to traditional mass advertising strategies don’t interrupt the audience and thus get greater recall rates. These innovative ways of advertising are leveraging the old media as compared to digital advertising where cost per click on major search engines has increased manifolds and  increasing    the sales and return on investment for a company.

New Concepts/Definitions:

The four new concepts have been learned in this article as follows:

Catching People in Bottleneck:This is a non-traditional mass advertising strategy that grabs the attention of on-the-go but temporarily captive audience. Such as displaying ads in public places such as elevators, escalators, airplane platforms, restroom stalls etc.

Use a Trojan Horse:  In contrast to capturing public spaces having strategic value, this strategy is to infiltrate private spaces with mobile ads such as ads on coffee cups, pizza boxes.

Target People at Play: This innovative strategy of reaching larger audience is to attract people while they are pursuing leisure activities without interrupting such as displaying ads golf carts, cricket bats etc.

Get People to Play Games: This strategy seeks engaging people in such ways that require physical interaction with displayed ads or product rather than giving handouts or free samples to the audience for instance presenting interactive posters and demos that help people to try them before buying.



The author has used following three main facts in order to support his view point of mass advertising through innovative advertising strategies:

A survey conducted by the Association of National Advertisers, showing that 70% of the respondents said that recent technological advances will ultimately lead to the downfall of 30-second television ads. This fact supports author’s view point that traditional mass advertising media is not a cost effective approach to reach the common targeted masses around the world.

One of the Accenture survey revealed that 60% of respondents said that they are seeking new technologies that would block interrupting advertising messages. This factual information clearly goes in favor of author’s point that common people have become fed up with traditional interrupting ads and now they are looking for solutions to avoid them.

Another fact represents how television is not a reliable option for mass advertising and companies are slashing their marketing budget to shift their attention to new mass advertising media. For instance, McDonald’s during 1999-2004 cut the portion of its U.S. marketing budget devoted to TV campaigns from two-thirds to one-third.

Bias/Faulty Reasoning

Here is an example that presents a faulty reasoning of the author to support his point of view that 30-seond does not remain a mass advertising media in the proliferation of new media such as digital and social media networks, however, Inc spent 70% of its $55 million budget on offline ads in 2005, up from 50% three years earlier. On the basis of recent statistics, TV ads still remains a one of the biggest mass media of building global brands.

Moreover, the author has shown biasness towards comparing only TV ads and micro-media with latest new media strategies of reaching greater number of the masses while ignoring other offline media that has gained huge importance in the recent era such as print, celebrity endorsements, radio.

Strengths: the main strengths of the article are concrete contextual examples to support his view point, grabbing the reader attention from start till ending and pouring light on new trends in the mass advertising with minimal personal biasness and faulty reasoning.

Weakness: one of the weaknesses of the article is thatit has not taken into account other traditional media mass advertising media such as radio, print, outdoor etc.

Another weakness is that some of the ideas and supporting examples contradict each other at some point in the article.



I as a global business manager have come to know how an ad on a cup, on a golf stick, on shelter of bus, on the back-screen of a taxicab, in elevators, in restaurants increases the recall rates without interrupting consumers. Being a global business manager, I must  keep attention  to latest corporate trends for brand building in the present world where companies are slashing their traditional mass advertising budget to focus on non-traditional ways of reaching mass customers.

This article has also helped me to well understand how micro-marketing through one-to-one approach has also become less cost-effective due to the advent of latest ad blocking technologies.

In addition to this, digital media that one regarded a big perspective opportunity for companies to build their brands is now getting low response from consumers, because of proliferation of ads and tools of controlling spam pop up ads blocker. I have also come to know that ads on escalators can garb the attentions of on-the-go people without stopping them such as London-based Escasite, for instance, installs ads on the revolving stairs of escalators at sites throughout the world.


This article has made clear comparison of old and new methods of mass advertising. In contrast to traditional methods of 30-second ads, telemarketing, outdoor media,  innovative  methods present cost-effective solutions of brand building and increasing the recall rates because these methods no longer interrupt consumers who  have latest digital technological solutions to combat them and get relaxed and enjoying.

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