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The United States of Advertising

The United States of Advertising

Four weeks, six cities, and a million, million ads, Aarti Nagraj takes readers on a tour of America’s advertising terrain for Communicate magazine.


September 24, 2009 1:10 by

And it’s not just medicines for obesity on the billboards; there are pills for depression, diabetes and every other ailment under the sun, all accompanied by pictures of old people, children or dogs.

Advertising in the country may be dominated by campaigns for food and medicine, but other sectors manage to flex some marketing muscle as well. For instance, from now on whenever I hear the words “auto-insurance,” I will think of Justin Case. This charming young man can, apparently, answer all your auto-insurance queries and issues. He appears on every ad, promising he’ll be there 24/7 to do just that. Just incase, you understand.

There’s also a weird looking lady at another insurance company (I forget the name – the ads can’t have been too effective) who seems to be empowering her customers in what looks like a white lab from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory.

While this spokesperson-based advertising favored in the US is notably different from the way things work in Dubai, another aspect that surprises me is that advertisers in the US are openly allowed to bash their competitors. A pill whose name starts with A apparently works several times more effectively than Tylenol. At least that’s what the ad seems to say. (However, the fact that I can’t remember the name of the pill, only the competitor, might suggest the tactic doesn’t work that well. On the other hand, maybe I’m just forgetful.)

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