Promotion: Communication Strategies, Public Relations and Advertising

Promotion is the process of selecting the appropriate messages to communicate the benefits and value of the product with the aim of influencing the thoughts, feelings, or behaviour of the target group towards a purchasing decision.

More than four decades ago, LEGO launched a very unique and innovative marketing campaign, even for today’s standards. LEGO’s printed advertisements emphasised the benefits of using the product instead of simply stating its characteristics.

The message from the company was indeed clear to any parent: “We don’t sell toy building blocks; we sell pride, creativity and smiles for your children”. Thus, the promotional content should focus on communicating the benefits and value of the product, not on its characteristics. The question is: “Do you buy clothes or do you buy attractive looks?”

Selecting the appropriate promotional method certainly requires careful target market analysis (e.g. consumer media habits) and an evaluation (through consumer feedback) of the advertising effectiveness.


According to Kotler and Armstrong (2012)1, the promotional objectives are classified as follows:

Informative advertising

Persuasive advertising

Reminder advertising

Reinforcement advertising

Appropriate for promoting awareness about new products or new features on existing products.

Appropriate for influencing the thoughts, feelings, or behaviour towards a purchasing decision.

Appropriate for influencing the frequency of repeated sales.

Appropriate for reassuring existing customers about the validity of their purchase decision.

The Duracell Bunny advert in the 1980s is a classic example of the Persuasive category of advertising.  Mass Marketing is more appropriate for products related to banking services, fast food restaurants, and items placed on supermarket shelves, whereas Target Marketing is more suitable for specialty goods and niche markets. 

1 Kotler, P. and Armstrong, G. (2012), Principles of Marketing, 14th Edition, Pearson, Essex, England.

Paid promotion” usually encompasses media (TV, radio, internet) and printed advertising (outdoor posters, leaflets and catalogues, newspapers and magazines), as well as personal selling, product sample giveaways and presence at trade fairs.

On the other hand, many organisations (particularly non-profit ones) prefer the “Free promotion” category which provides a range of options, such as press releases, sponsorships, donations, participation in charity events, and community involvement.

Furthermore, in the last decade or so, the appearance of several social media platforms provide organisations with an effective tool to grow awareness amongst its target audience and even interact online.  It is well known today, that a successful marketing message can be shared electronically between thousands of consumers across the globe with ease and in no time, making it “viral” as long as the content is interesting and “catchy”.

How Mattel regained trust
In August 2007, the toy manufacturer Mattel published a carefully phrased sincere announcement in major newspapers, before voluntarily responding to five more recalls involving more than 20 million toys in the same year. Mattel’s corporate response was successful to regain confidence fast among the public, due to the immediate quality product control measures to eliminate any future safety issues.
The printed release below, which dominated media for weeks, followed notifications in 20 languages on its website and thousands of posters to its retailers.

source: (click to enlarge image)