What Is Advertising?
William M. O'Barr
We know it when we see it. We are exposed to it thousands of times every day. Most of us are reasonably good, although seldom perfect, at distinguishing it from other kinds of messages. It is something that we tend to take for granted, seldom thinking about what it is or how it came into existence. But what is this thing called advertising?
Fig. 1.1 Can A Definition of Advertising Encompass Its Many Forms? [Source]
A library or Internet search will turn up no consistent definition. Scholars, novelists, journalists, laymen, and practitioners have taken turns offering insights into its nature and scope. This introductory unit examines some of those attempts, but be forewarned of the conclusion: No single definition will do, and each effort at describing advertising plays up some aspects while ignoring others. Taken together, these definitions emphasize the complex relationship of advertising with society, culture, history, and the economy.