Home Introduction to radio and television ADVERTISING IN BROADCASTING


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It is not possible to pinpoint the beginning of advertising, however, several examples date back several years ago: clay tables had been found in ancient Babylon with messages. The town crier had been in existence in England during the medieval period.

In recent times, the history of advertising is entwined with changing social conditions and advances in media technology (Dominick, 2002:369). Advertising came to limelight with the advent of industrial revolution. The period witnessed improvement in economy and communication and aided advertising to thrive.

The 1920s marked the beginning of radio as an advertising medium. Network broadcasting made radio an attractive vehicle for national advertisers. Then came the 1960s with the growth of television which had more impacts or input into the way advertising was presented. Finally during the 1990s, a new advertising and marketing medium, the Internet, arrived on the scene and saw remarkable growth. Now, advertising has to adopt the new technology in order to cope with the modern world.


At the end of this unit, you should be able to:

  1.  explain Advertising and its development 
  2.  explain the Functions and criticisms of Advertising 
  3.  explain the term Copy Writing in Advertising. 


3.1 Definition of Advertising

Advertising can be defined as any form of non personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods and services paid for by an identified sponsor. It could be noted that three key terms are used in this definition namely:

  1.  Advertising is “non-personal”, that is it is directed toward a large group of people. Secondly, advertising is “paid for”. This makes advertising different from publicity which isn’t usually paid for. And thirdly the sponsor of the advertisement is “identified”. In most cases the identity of the sponsor is known and there is nothing wrong in identifying the sponsor in an advertisement. Perhaps it is only in political advertising that the sponsor is not identified. However, broadcasters may not accept a political advertisement without a statement identifying those responsible  for it. 


  1. What are the major differences between advertising and publicity? 

3.2 Development of Advertising

Advertising is said to have dated back to ancient Egypt when the papyrus posters were found offering rewards for the return of runaway slaves. In early Greek and Roman days, signboards were placed above the doors of business establishments and town criers proclaimed that merchants had certain wares for sale (Sambe, 2008:245). Perhaps the increase in quantities of advertising was realised in the mid-15th century when there was improvement in the printing industry. Advertisements came in handbills, posters and then newspapers and magazines.  Newspapers and magazines increased in circulation, because of the new technological advances, advertising new slogans, better copy writers and artists, and improved method of analysing products, media and markets, cases of advertising also increased.

The invention of radio and later television brought about tremendous improvement in advertising.
Advertising takes different forms, however each form works to serve one purpose and that is bringing message about a product or event to the public. Some of the messages are profit oriented while others are non – profit oriented. They also provide free services but not goods, to the public either through the print or electronic media.


  1. What is advertising? 

3.3 Functions of Advertising

Dominick (2002:369) states that advertising tends to fulfill four basic functions in any given society:

  1.  Advertising serves a marketing function by aiding companies that provide products or services to sell their products. 
  2.  Advertising is educational, and society learns about new products and services or improvements in existing ones through it.
  3.  Advertising plays an economic role. The ability to advertise allows new competitors to enter the business arena. Generally,competition enhances products improvements and it may help lower prices of products. 
  4.  Advertising performs a social function by displaying the product and even cultural opportunities available in a free enterprises society, tends to help increase productivity, and tries to raise standards of living. 


  1. Discuss the principal functions of advertising. 

3.4 Criticisms of Advertising

Advertising appears to be part of our lives and is therefore prone to series of criticisms by members of the society. Some of the criticisms are:

  1.  In advertising members of the society are persuaded and as such we have the choice to purchase or not to purchase the goods so advertised. However, advertising does persuade us to buy goods and services we do not mean to buy.
  2. Advertising appeals to our emotions rather than to our intellect. Almost all human beings are motivated by emotional drive; it appears natural that advertising should make such appeals. Perhaps a cautious purchaser would avoid obvious appeals to the emotions. 
  3. Advertising tends to be biased for it encourages people to spend and to acquire. It also makes consumption the most important activity in life. This aspect of advertising is biased against those with low incomes who do not have the means to attain the material goals portrayed in advertising. 
  4.  In all cases, advertising people tend to disseminate messages through purchased time on radio and television in order to identify, inform and persuade. 


  1. What would life be without advertising? 

3.5 Advertising Copy Writing

Copy writing in advertising could be used to refer to the materials or everything that makes the message stick. It may include the layout, the design, all the words or the typographic elements in the advertisement, including the headlines, captions and sub–headlines. For this purpose we shall mean everything that is used to disseminate the information to the target audience.

Writing a copy begins with the brief which serves as a guide provided by the client about the product, service, idea, his company and himself. The brief is always in written form.  A good brief contains information on the nature of the business and the product or service, the business or product catchment area or “geo–spread”, the market size, past – present – future consumers, competitors and other data available to the client (Nwosu, 2006:51).

The writer should be guided by the 5Ws and H news writing formula as follows:

  1. Who will buy/purchase the product? 
  2. What product, service, idea is to be advertised? 
  3.  When does the purchase take place? 
  4.  Where will the product be purchased? 
  5.  Why is it to be purchased? 
  6.  How much of the product or idea will be used? 

Based on the available information the copy writer will be armed to begin his research by either observation or survey to enable him produce an effective advertising copy.

The objectives can now be clearly defined. They include size, typography, shape and colour objectives, desired action objectives and market objectives. Other criteria to be taken into consideration include; brand users, product users and non – product users. By now the writer should be ready to begin copy writing proper. At this stage the writer is free to decide on the advertising appeals that may attract the product buyers.


Describe the processes of advertising copy writing.


Advertising can be classified in many ways depending on the type of product to be advertised and the kind of audience or consumers who form the target audience or population who would purchase the product, or the idea or service. Consumers, as the name implies, are the people who buy services and goods for personal use. Most of the advertising that people are exposed to falls into this category. While business to business advertising is directed to people who purchase product or services for business use.

Advertising can be classified as geographic or international. Geographic advertising is concerned with a particular area while international advertising is used for products and services that are used all over the world.


Advertising is any form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas goods and services paid for by an identified sponsor. Furthermore, advertising can be classified by the target audience that is geographic focus, the audience may be in one geographic location or maybe scattered all over the world. Modern advertising began in the late 19th century and grew in the early 20th century, as radio and later on television became mass advertising media.

Although the business to business advertising is not as prominent as the consumer advertising, business advertising tends to make up a significant proportion of advertising industry.


  1.  What are three defining characteristics of advertising? 
  2.  What is copy writing in advertising? 
  3. Discuss four main criticisms laid against advertising?


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