(redirected from commercial message)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Wikipedia.


advertising, in general, any openly sponsored offering of goods, services, or ideas through any medium of public communication. At its inception advertising was merely an announcement; for example, entrepreneurs in ancient Egypt used criers to announce ship and cargo arrivals. The invention of printing, however, may be said to have ushered in modern advertising. After the influence of salesmanship began to insert itself into public notice in the 18th cent., the present elaborate form of advertising began to evolve. The advertising agency, working on a commission basis, has been chiefly responsible for this evolution. The largest group of advertisers are the food marketers, followed by marketers of drugs and cosmetics, soaps, automobiles, tobacco, appliances, and oil products. The major U.S. advertising media include newspapers, magazines, television and radio, business publications, billboards, and circulars sent through the mail. With the advent of the wide availability of electronic mail and access to the World Wide Web in the 1990s, the Internet has also become an important advertising venue. An individual's interests, opinions, browsing history, and the like can be tracked and used by Internet firms to offer businesses, political organizations, and others the opportunity to target their advertising much more specifically than in the past. Such use has also been criticized as a violation of privacy, and is more restricted in the European Union. Since many large advertising agencies were once located on Madison Avenue in New York City, the term “Madison Avenue” is frequently used to symbolize the advertising business. The major criticisms of advertising are that it creates false values and impels people to buy things they neither need nor want and that, in fact, may be actually harmful (such as cigarettes). In reply, its defenders say that advertising is meant to sell products, not create values; that it can create a new market for products that fill a genuine, though latent, need; and that it furthers product improvement through free competition. The Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, both founded in 1917, are the major associations.


See M. Mayer, Madison Avenue, U.S.A. (1958); R. Glatzer, The New Advertising (1970); R. Hovland and G. Wilcox, ed., Advertising in Society (1988); W. Wells et al., Advertising: Principles & Practice (4th ed. 1998); J. B. Twitchell, Adcult, USA (1995) and 20 Ads That Shook the World: The Century's Most Groundbreaking Advertising and How It Changed Us All (2000).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


the process and the means (press, film, TV, etc.) by which the availability and the qualities of commodities and services are notified to a wider public. Drawing on SEMIOLOGY, Jean BAUDRILLARD (1970) has argued that in modern Societies CONSUMPTION entails the ‘active manipulation of the SIGN’, so that the sign and the commodity have come together in the production of the ‘commodity-sign’.

It is in such a context that the power of advertising has been a central issue in modern sociology. In a popular sociological exposé, The Hidden Persuaders (1957), Vance Packard painted a picture of an armoury of psychological and sociological advertising techniques which made these techniques appear all-powerful. In the 1950s, the novelist J. B. Priestley coined the term admass to describe the drive to consumption which was fuelled by mass advertising in modern societies. Packard also argued that advertising promotes consumption as a solution to personal and political problems. Advertising creates ‘false needs’ which are met in a fundamentally unsatisfying way by conspicuous consumption, in the belief that wellbeing and peace of mind are provided by the purchase of commodities.

Against such views, more conventional paradigms in media research have often argued that barriers to mass communications (e.g. group opinion) exist which act as a ‘protective screen’ against any too easy manipulation (see TWO-STEP FLOW IN MASS COMMUNICATIONS). Feminist theories of advertising have taken another line, stressing its frequent sexism, an aspect of its more general recourse to gender, ageist, and racist STEREOTYPES.

A further aspect of advertising is that in the UK and elsewhere advertising influences the general content of broadcasting. In the UK, Curran et al., commenting upon the discussion in the 1977 Royal Commission on the Press on press finances, argued that advertising organizes both media content and structure, and effectively operates as a system of patronage supporting capitalist production values rather than democratic political values. Markets and sections of populations which are not attractive to advertisers and manufacturers, such as older people and people with low incomes, are not serviced by the mass media because of this dependence on advertising. One final point of interest is that some advertising agencies now employ operational categories which have much in common with ideas currently being developed by academic writers using the concept ‘postmodern’ to describe contemporary Western societies. Postmodernism proposes that the concept of CLASS has less relevance to contemporary experience than LIFESTYLE and CONSUMPTION. In this frame of reference advertising is depicted as seductive rather than manipulative and advertising agencies are increasingly abandoning socioeconomic classification systems and replacing them with the concepts of consumption class and lifestyle group’. See also CONSUMER CULTURE, MASS CULTURE.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(in Russian, reklama). (1) Information about the consumer qualities of commodities and various types of services, disseminated for the purpose of selling the commodities and services by creating a demand.

(2) The dissemination of information about a person, organization or work of literature or art in order to create popularity. Corresponding to the Russian word reklama are the English terms “advertising” and “publicity,” the French term publicité, and the German term Werbung.

The simplest forms of advertising existed even before the Common Era. In ancient Greece and Rome, advertising notices were written on wooden boards, engraved on copper or bone, and loudly read in squares and other public places. Advertising achieved its greatest development in the era of capitalism. The origin of printed advertising in the early 17th century is associated with W. Caxton in England and T. Renaudot in France.

Modern advertising is done through the print media (newspapers, magazines, posters, bulletins, prospectuses), radio, television, films, store windows, signs (including those composed of lights), packaging, commodity and company insignia, and by other means. In the industrially developed countries, newspaper and magazine advertising accounts for 40 percent of total advertising expenditures, with the next most popular media being television and radio, in that order.

Advertising art is synthetic in character. Advertising makes wide use of commercial art, poster art, decorative designing art, and environmental furnishings.

The development of advertising in capitalist countries was occasioned by the struggle for markets and the struggle to obtain maximum profits. Advertising is a method of nonprice competition and is one of the functions of marketing. Apart from having purely economic objectives, it is used to shape the public politically and ideologically. Advertising, which molds the needs and living standard of bourgeois society, is a social weapon of the exploiting class. The advertising media, which are in the hands of monopolies, help impose superfluous needs, inculcate conformist views, and implant standards of “mass culture” and worship of fashion. Through the system of mass media, advertising encompasses the overwhelming majority of members of the “consumer society” and contributes to the increasing alienation of the individual. It has become a powerful means of ideologically influencing the population during election campaigns and other campaigns, foisting on the public political figures who suit the monopolies. Advertising is widely used to propagandize bourgeois ideology and the Western, especially American, way of life.

Advertising is handled by special firms and agencies with a far-flung network of departments and offices and the advertising departments of industrial and commercial companies, publishing houses, and so forth. Revenues from advertisements make up a significant share of the profits of bourgeois periodicals, radio companies, and television companies.

It is estimated that every inhabitant of the USA is subjected daily to a stream of approximately 1,500 advertisements. In 1970, the ten largest agencies, which include J. Walter Thompson Co., McCann-Erickson, Inc., Young & Rubicam Inc., and Ogilvy & Mather Inc., accounted for almost 30 percent of the volume of US advertising. In 1966, Japan had more than 300 advertising agencies, employing some 30,000 employees in all; Dentsu, one of the world’s largest agencies, accounted for a quarter of all moneys spent in the country on advertising. Advertising expenditures, which are included in distribution costs, have reached gigantic dimensions, totaling $22.1 billion in the USA in 1972. Advertising costs are passed on to the consumer through monopoly prices, with up to 50 percent of the price of certain new goods on the market due to advertising expenditures.

In socialist countries, advertising is done on a planned basis and is distinguished by truthfulness. It stimulates demand and promotes the formation of new social needs, a rise in the standard of consumption, and the development of the socialist economy and culture.

Among the first decrees of the Soviet state was a decree on the introduction of a state monopoly on advertisements. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, advertising promoted the development of trade between the city and countryside and the strengthening of contacts between trade and industry. Specialized advertising organizations were formed, including Promreklama (the industrial advertising agency of the Supreme Council on the National Economy) and Mostorgreklama (the Moscow commercial advertising bureau for trade advertising). Subsequently advances were made in the organization and techniques of advertising.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, a number of large specialized advertising organizations were created, including Soiuztorgreklama (All-Union Trade Advertising Agency), Rostorgreklama (Russian Trade Advertising Agency), and Glavkooptorgreklama (Chief Cooperative Trade Advertising Agency). A number of industrial advertising bureaus were created under various ministries and departments. Interdepartmental councils on advertising were organized to coordinate advertising activities.

More than 60 specialized advertising publications are issued in the USSR, including Reklama (Advertising), Kommercheskii vestnik (Commercial Herald), Moskovskaia reklama (Moscow Advertising), Novye tovary (New Commodities), Panorama (Panorama), and supplements to oblast and republic newspapers. As of 1974 there were more than 400 advertising films, and radio and television advertising programs are broadcast daily. Fairs for the sale of advertising equipment are held every year in Moscow.

Advertising is also developing well in other socialist countries. There are specialized advertising organizations in the German Democratic Republic (DEWAG Werbung, an agency that fills orders for all types of advertising), Czechoslovakia (Merkur, Optima and others), Bulgaria (Reklama), and Hungary (Magyar Hirdetö). Specialized advertising publications include Neue Werbung in the German Democratic Republic, Reklama in Czechoslovakia, Kirakat in Hungary, Reklama in Poland, and Reklama in Bulgaria. Representatives of the advertising organizations of the member countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) regularly exchange news of achievements in the theory and practice of advertising.


Voronov, K. G. “Reklama v torgovle kapitalisticheskikh stran.” In the collection Nauchnye zapiski Vsesoiuznoi akademii vneshnei torgovli, issue 13. Moscow, 1967.
Degtiarev, Iu. A., and L. A. Kornilov. Torgovaia reklama: ekonomika, iskusstvo. Moscow, 1969.
Feofanov, O. A. SShA: reklama i obshchestvo. Moscow, 1974.
Reeves, R. Realizm v reklame. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from English.)
Spravochnik po torgovoi reklame. Moscow, 1972. (Translated from German.)
Sovetskii reklamnyi plakat, 1917–1932: Torgovaia reklama, zrelishchnaia reklama. [Album.] Moscow, 1972.
Mayer, M. Madison Avenue, U.S.A. New York, 1958.
Packard, V. The Hidden Persuaders. New York, 1961.
Boorstin, D. J. The Decline of Radicalism: Reflections of America Today. New York, 1969.
McLuhan, M. Culture Is Our Business. New York, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
However, given that viewers of televised sports programming are often exposed to a plethora of commercial messages of varying content and context, consumers' overall impression of the commercial messaging surrounding sports and its impact on brand attitudes are unknown.
* Subject line: Commercial messages must have subject lines that are not false or misleading and that give the recipient some sense of the information contained in the body of the message.
Thus, regarding the issues at hand-attention and commercial effectiveness-the study reminds us that receptiveness to and the effects of commercial messages are dependent on many factors and that attention, program liking, and other qualitative factors need to be considered in connection with the target group characteristic.
As media houses have been looking for new business models, there have been a number of attempts to finance content that blurs the line between commercial messages and journalism.
| Chris Coleman But a FIFA directive prohibits political, religious or commercial messages on shirts, and the governing body has warned both associations that they could face sanctions.
World football's governing body prohibits political, religious or commercial messages on shirts.
They claim to ban political, religious or commercial messages. Fair enough.
FIFA has stated that the poppy symbol would breach its rules regarding political, religious or commercial messages being carried on players' equipment, though the definition of what is or is not political remains fiercely debated.
With consumers easily deciphering embedded commercial messages, a return to the values and intent of good-old-fashioned advertising is not nostalgia.
One day, in fact, things may come to a point when there would be just 12 minutes left in the program for the content while the rest of the hour-long program would be devoted to advertisements and Pemra would not have any objection to this because it ignores the fact that it grants licences to TV channels for purposes of public information, education and entertainment and not for advertisers to shove their commercial messages down the throats of the people ad nauseam.
Co-founder Siobhan Freegard joined the site's users in calling for children not to be bombarded with commercial messages this winter and to protect school productions of the nativity.
Businesses are given a three-year "transition period" wherein they will be allowed to continue sending commercial messages but only if they can prove they've had a business relationship with the recipients, known in law as implied consent, in the past two years.

Full browser ?