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Advertising denotes various forms of communication that are used to reach the potential consumers for informative and persuasive purposes. Advertisements are used to market products to consumers by informing them about the products and persuading them to purchase them. Advertisements are mainly aimed at driving consumer behaviors, and as such, they have been heavily implicated in the furtherance of consumerism in society (Howe, Edelstein & Johnson, 2000). This act of consuming in excess of what a person actually needs has a weak link with western society, but is now gradually becoming a global trend driven by the advertisement industry. In this paper, Procter & Gamble detergent advertisement is critically analyzed to determine the role it plays in advertising the detergent and the kind of response that it elicits from the target market for whom it is tailored. The Ariel detergent advertisement appeared on the Sunday Times in Great Britain in 2007 and the Ariel site http://www.ariel.co.uk/. The advertisement targets consumers in their middle age and especially consumers with families. The purpose of the advertisement is to elicit the maternal and paternal sense of care and love for children. This is aimed at influencing the choice of detergent purchases in a family setup. Virtually all people use detergents; therefore, the advertisement is not aimed at selling a need to the audience but rather selling them an identity and a detergent that is more than just any other detergent. The advertisement focuses more on showing how a product identifies with the consumer’s lifestyle of a caring and sensitive parent. This portrayal shows that advertisements are a niche curving tool that helps in segmenting the market and fulfilling specific needs and identities of consumers.
Procter & Gamble has a line of various detergents, which include Ariel Sensitive, Ariel Biological and Ariel Color & Style. Each of these brands targets different market niches based on what each presents. Every person uses laundry detergents. Therefore, the message in the advertisements is not on the emphasis of the need but rather identification of the product with one’s lifestyle (D’Silva & Asaro, 2007). Ariel Sensitive is a specialized detergent best suited for people with sensitive skin such as children and those with sensitive and allergic skin. The branding of the detergent focuses on touch as an element that makes families closer. The advertisement features idealistic times and scenes where viewers are drawn in by their need for intimacy and family.
The advertisement portrays a blissful outdoor moment shared by a father and his child on the greens. The image greatly features the brand blue colour – in various shades. This is perhaps to accentuate the product and brand. The use of bright colours is not only an indicator of cleanliness linked to the product but also an attention drawing element. The image of the father and the child is centred on the advertisement and thus acts as the portrayal of the main theme, which is sensitivity that is offered by the detergent that cares for the skin of the young and old alike by being gentle to their skins (Sask Learning Central iSchool, 2003). The core idea of sensitivity and gentleness is further emphasized by the textual message placed at the top-left corner the advertisement (D’Silva & Asaro, 2007). The text reads, “Is gentle something you touch or something that touches you?” The answer is rather obvious logically, because it is something gentle that touches in order for the touch to be considered gentle. The child touching the father in this case shows the gentle touch of a child, which is compared to the gentle touch of the detergent on the laundry and skin. The detergent’s gentleness is thus compared to that of a child’s touch in this advertisement technique (Sask Learning Central iSchool, 2003).
The inclusion of the word ‘sensitive’ to the brand serves to elaborate the niche being curved out for the product. The text in minute writing at the bottom creates further marketing emphasis by stating the product ratification done by the British professional body – British Allergy Foundation. This adds to the credibility of the claims made in the advertisement. Therefore, the texts and image strengthen each other’s emphasis and capture a great moment with an image that lovingly communicates the product’s characteristics – sensitivity and gentleness towards fabrics and users’ skin (D’Silva & Asaro, 2007). The featured images target precisely the right audience and pass the right message that can attract both fathers and mothers concerned about their families. Seeing a child playing with a father is the right picture to capture and illustrate ‘sensitive’ to consumers. This advertising technique makes use of inherent human characteristics, which it tries to elicit through reaching inner feelings and the predisposition of human feelings (Pricken, 2008).