Businesses employ different communication strategies in an attempt to attain increased productivity, sales volumes, profitability, and creation of a reputable brand name. The execution of appropriate communication strategies can propel organisations towards unmatched success.
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However, failure to exercise caution, particularly in the manner of carrying out the communication strategy, can have undesired consequences on the company’s brand name. This set of circumstances significantly affects the overall success and sustainability of the organisation.
Similarly, inappropriate advertisement can have detrimental effects on the society and other stakeholders of the firm. Therefore, all firms undertaking the role ought to adopt ethical advertising practices in a bid to avoid negative impacts on the targeted groups in the society.
This paper critically examines two case studies that involve the Benetton and Yeo Valley Companies with a view of gauging their marketing communication strategies, achievements, and critical issues affecting social-economic and cultural ecosystems owing to the use of different advertising methods.
Advertising Objectives for Benetton and Yeo Valley Companies and Theoretical Explanations
Advertising is a core function of any communication department in businesses (Šerić, Gil-Saura, & Ruiz-Molina, 2014). The central role of advertisement is to communicate, particularly to the target audience, what the organisation has in store and the value of its goods and services to the outside world.
It also seeks to create a brand name by maintaining a high sense of reputation. Advertising encompasses both informative and persuasive functions (Belch & Belch, 2011). Informative advertising is theorised to announce the availability of a product thereby saving customers search costs.
The negative perception of informative advertising is that it tends to alter consumers’ tastes as it seeks to create product differentiation and inelastic demand. On the other hand, persuasive advertising is theoretically viewed as a means to win consumer taste from a competing brand in favour of the company’s product.
In the two case studies, both advertising roles are clearly indicated since each entity exhibits a set of guiding objectives. For instance, the Ye Valley Company wished to change the customers’ perception that organic yoghurt inexpensive.
This persuasive function of advertising was effectively executed as it was reflected in the skyrocketing profitability and productivity. On the other hand, the Benetton Group employed informative advertising by unravelling the important issues that affected the society in an attempt to inform the public of the existence of its products.
The Benetton Company used the social learning theory in marketing its products. Through its Creative Designer, Mr Toscani identified that most consumers were interested in learning through observation, imitation, and modelling. These practices significantly influenced their purchasing behaviours (Percy, 2014).
As a result, he used provocative communication strategy to evoke the consumers’ involvement in the debate on societal issues that were not being addressed. Most consumers believe in the benefits of a product besides its quality and pricing.
The Yeo Valley Company created more demand for the organic and natural yoghurt by collaborating with celebrities who praised the usefulness of the product to the consumers (Chitty, Luck, Barker, Valos, & Shimp, 2015).
One of the advertisements done by Toscani on behalf of the company featured teenagers and children from diverse cultural nations. The children were dressed in clothes of different colours that were designed by the Benetton Company. This creative artwork portrayed racial harmony and peace.
Consumers expressed a positive attitude towards the products as evidenced by several letters that praised the company. The advertisement was used to reverse racial perceptions (Chitty et al., 2015). This phenomenon enhanced the company’s acceptance across multicultural regions.
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Pictures also portray the reality of an issue. Some advertisements used by the company addressed political issues and diseases such as AIDS among others. For example, the company used a dying patient suffering from AIDS in the hands of the family members.
The Benetton Company’s publicity increased due to an advert on the Colour Magazine that targeted the young generation worldwide. The advert was composed in different languages that embraced breaking of linguistic barriers with a view of creating a solution to issues that related to racial discrimination.
This strategy benefitted the company in terms of its popularity and publicity (Chitty et al., 2015).
The Benetton Company also implemented the theory of selective perception. This theory elaborates how people select, evaluate, and/or organise conditions for manipulating the external environment to seek a meaningful outcome (Lin & Atkin, 2014).
It further highlights that people tend to pay attention to certain features of the surrounding environment while excluding others. As highlighted in the case study, Toscani believed that those who welcomed the ideas were likely to develop more loyalty for the brand; hence, influencing higher sales returns.
For those who opposed the company’s advertisement strategies, Toscani believed that the boycotts and publicity contributed to the popularity of the Benetton Company (Lin & Atkin, 2014). This strategy worked successfully.
Even when Toscani was replaced, the company still employed shock-advertising techniques in addressing the contemporary issues that affected the environment and society (Ailawadi, Beauchamp, Donthu, Gauri, & Shankar, 2009).
Theories of planned behaviour and reasoned action are based on three core assumptions that include beliefs and the evaluations of the results of a given behaviour that lead to either positive or negative attitude towards the successfulness any given brand.
Secondly, belief and evaluation of the cultures and expectations of other people can result in their rejection or acceptance. Lastly, the philosophies of particular societies and its strength can lead to the perceived control of the behaviour.
The Yeo Valley Company had realised that most consumers of organic food products of the dairy family were driven by beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions of a particular brand of a product. The consumers associated the term organic with expensiveness.
As a result, they limitedly purchased products from the company due to such factors. Upon learning the behaviour and perceptions of consumers, Tim Mead employed both modern and digital advertising strategies involving celebrities to alter the expensive (organic) attitude to affordable (natural) yoghurt.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Shock Advertising Adopted by the Benetton Company
Led by its marketing manager Oliviero Toscani, the Benetton Company embraced the shock advertising method that had both beneficial and disadvantageous effects on both the company and society. Shock advertising is mostly applied in social marketing to promote the products of a company (Parry, Jones, Stern, & Robinson, 2013).
It is implemented to address issues such as racism, HIV-AIDs, social inequality, abortion, brutality, bad governance, and climate change among others that affect the society. The focus of shock advertising is grabbing the customers’ attention and priceless publicity that can only be attained through shock value creation (Sandıkcı, 2011).
The idea was to shift from the common purpose of many advertising campaigns that centre on increasing product awareness and profitability.
According to Toscani, there was a need for the Benetton Company to show the public that it cared for the societies, economic, and other global issues such as racism and capital punishment that affected them.
The advantages of shock advertising in relation to the Benetton Company include the creation of brand awareness (Ailawadi et al., 2009). In every image shared by Toscani’s shocking advertising campaign, there was an embedded logo for the company (United Colours of Benetton).
Despite its public deterrence and opposition, the company’s brand name awareness increased profoundly, a situation that resulted in the achievement of the author’s (Toscani) philosophical objective.
Shock advertising brings about societal issues such as health, inequality, hunger, drought, and poverty among others (Virvilaite & Matuleviciene, 2013). In this manner, it addresses issues that can rather remain unmentioned despite their significance in people’s lives. It breaks from the advertising culture of product awareness.
In addition, shock advertising counters the negative theoretical perception of advertising that organisations depict selfish behaviour in promoting their products for profits without caring for the society.
Shock advertising is beneficial to the brand as it drives the societal message home, induces debate, and response (Virvilaite & Matuleviciene, 2013). However, sometimes the response can go viral over the social or mainstream media thereby creating inadvertent and massive brand awareness.
It creates a long lasting perception of the brand in the public minds. The positive reception of the provocative messages of shock advertising can propel the company towards a great success besides creating an unshakable customer loyalty.
Customers develop a personal attachment to the products of the company that addresses the societal issues that affect them significantly (Virvilaite & Matuleviciene, 2013). Toscani showed the importance of shocking value to create lasting memories as he shattered the conventional clutter of advertising roles.
Benetton’s advertisements (shock ads) were inevitably successful as they communicated the company’s values that converted into increased sales worldwide.
Nevertheless, shock advertising can have irreversible detrimental effects on the society. When the campaign goes too far, it can result in controversy that can shy away customers. For instance, the death row and priest kissing a nun images sparked a massive controversy around the world.
The death row images were heavily criticised since the public viewed them as an exploitation of the victims. The priest kissing a nun advertisement was deemed a promotion to a sinful act of immorality. The two ads resulted in negative perceptions of the company’s values among most of its consumers.
Shock advertising can result in a decline of the company’s profitability due to the reduced sales volumes as customer stop buying products from the company.
Numerous researches have revealed that proactive advertising messages such as the ones depicted in the Benetton case can cause misinterpretation on the part of customers and the public as it can be viewed as offensive and unethical (Virvilaite & Matuleviciene, 2013).
This situation arises from the cultural diversity and understanding that are inherent in humanity. Proactive advertising works excellently for some countries but is highly unsuccessful in others. Furthermore, it can result in negative international relations between the company’s host country and foreign markets.
For instance, images of racism featuring a black person breastfeeding a white child can be taken as an act of slavery. This message can restrain the international ties between the Black and White people from the respective countries. Shock advertising is a form of proactive advertising that can be used successfully by many companies.
The appropriate group that can employ this technique without necessarily infringing people’s attitudes and perceptions include charity organisations that women rights, child abuse, and violence against animals among others.
Analysis of the Yeo Valley advertisement campaign in the year 2010 and the Churned “Forever” campaign in 2011
Advertising is a communication process that entails transmission of a message from the manufacturer to the consumers through diverse communicative media.
The purpose of advertising entails inspiring, informing, persuading, reminding, influencing, and stimulating the demand for a particular product, service, or ideas to seek a response from the target audience concerning the message. The manufacturers’ message can be packaged and conveyed in numerous forms.
The 2010 & 2011 Yeo Valley videos used the communication process to bring about the intended message. The viewpoint of the actors in the video is that the new natural yoghurt has been produced through ethical processes that focus on caring for animals and their habitats. It uses audio-visual messages to convey the intended message.
The source of the message is the Yeo Valley farm. The actors used voice and images to reach the recipients (viewers) and customers. Each of the components is essential to the achievement of the company’s goals. Customers in turn respond to the message to complete the process. The response can be in terms of purchases or complaints.
The Yeo Valley advertisement won awards. This state of affairs implied that the customers (voters) accepted the product. The reaction was also manifested in the skyrocketing sales volume that resulted from the distribution of the natural yoghurt.
The ad talks about how the Yeo Valley Company conserved the environment throughout its operations. The message passes information on the presence of clean air and conservation systems concerning change. It tells the viewers that the firm is not driven by selfish profitability goals rather it puts the society at the centre of its production processes.
The 2011 Yeo Valley campaign incorporated both audio and visual elements into the company’s message to the viewers to show its respect for nature.
The author uses the song in conjunction with images of various people driving tractors, a bird, hen, cows, and the green field to convey the company’s practical message concerning its ecological consciousness (Sokolowski, 2010). The artists exhibit their cordial relationship with the animals in the video as they feed and play with them.
Feeding the cows is a proactive strategy that implies care for the animals. The message can be extended to address animal violence in the society. Animals have often been explicitly shown to be harassed despite the benefits that they attract to human beings. They deserve care, healthy feeding, and protection.
The artists in the video are shown enjoying and sharing the natural yoghurt. This scene conveyed a message that the product was good to the public. As a result, the consumers were evoked to try the new product (Sokolowski, 2010). The persuasion of what they saw in the video obviously lead to more sales of the new product.
Increased purchases meant more productivity and profits for the company. The videos clearly indicated the process of marketing communication. It was a new trend of advertising as those who viewed the videos can use the same channel to provide feedback. Traditional ads are one-way like the ones in the mainstream media.
The YouTube videos also show other avenues that customers can use to get in touch with the company including Facebook and Twitter. The social media is an effective channel for modern advertising since it provides the recipient and sender an opportunity to interact instantly.
Organisations do not have to wait to gauge the impact of their advertisement efforts. Instant feedback guides them to take decisive actions regarding the product promotion mechanisms.
The negative response can compel the company to make the necessary changes whilst positive feedback can help the group make improvements for a greater customer base.
Effects of Marketing Communication Strategy of Benetton and the Yeo Valley Companies on Society
The nature of marketing strategies has different effects on the targeted companies and audience.
As much as the organisations seek to create brand awareness, product’s existence, and boost sales volumes, societal aesthetics ought to come first as their efforts can impact the society adversely, a situation that can result in the company’s failure in the end. The Yeo Valley Company’s marketing strategy is depicted as effective.
The company adopts conventional advertising methods including the mainstream and social media to convey ethically conscious information on the new organic yoghurt.
The leasing Britain dairy farm adopts transformational marketing strategies that have undoubtedly delivered better business without damaging the environment and society. Tim Mead, the owner of the farm, believed that adopting organic agriculture attracted not only more profitability but also had little adverse effects on the environment.
Through its digital advertising platform that included Twitter and Facebook, the Yeo Valley Company brought people such as celebrities and their fans together as it promoted the value of the new organic yoghurt that was packaged in friendly coloured containers (Virvilaite & Matuleviciene, 2013).
On the other hand, the Benetton Company utilised shock-advertising techniques that involved the use of provocative multimedia to create a shock-value for the target consumers. The method contributed to massive brand recognition all over the world considering both good and bad reasons.
At the outset, the company’s global sales volumes scaled up. This set of circumstances resulted in increased the sales returns. However, the marketing strategy adopted by the company had a myriad of adverse effects on the society.
The marketing campaign adopted by Toscani created a positive brand image on those who felt that the company was selfless as it volunteered to address societal issues that other marketers overlooked.
While the strategy was praised in some countries, it caused boycotts among other countries with its high level of shock depicted on the images it contained. The religious society including the Pope was particularly irritated by the image of a priest kissing a nun.
Images of people sentenced to death caused the families of the victims to file lawsuits demanding for compensations regarding violation of their people’s rights. The Benetton Company’s marketing strategies led by Toscani went too far thereby affecting the society unfavourably (Virvilaite & Matuleviciene, 2013).
The essay has elaborated the role and effects of communication in business, particularly in the advertising functions. It has indicated that the adoption of suitable advertising strategies can result in positive results for the organisations and society.
The Yeo Valley digital and mainstream advertising of organic dairy products reveals this state of play. The essay also presents the adverse effects of advertising. A good example portrayed by the Benetton’s Company case study.
Marketing communication is an essential function that ought to be carried out by the appropriate people who understand cross-cultural differences, attitudes, and perceptions of both people and countries.
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