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An advertising agency is hired by a client to increase brand awareness, via print media, television, or radio. Most advertising agencies offer a wide variety of services, including branding, marketing, design, and public relations.
The history of advertising really begins after the Great Depression, when families desired a return to normalcy and consumerism increased. As more and more families bought cars, televisions, and other consumer goods, an entire industry sprouted up, designed to catapult certain brands into the public eye. This was the advertising industry!
As technology advanced and the television was introduced, the advertising industry as we know it today really began to take shape. By the 1960s and 1970s, memorable advertising surrounding brands like Alka-Seltzer, Pepsi-Cola, Volkswagen, and 7Up were as frequently watched by consumers as television programs. Since the introduction of the television, advertising expenditures have continued to grow steadily.
As television advertising grew, the print media began to woo advertising agencies in the hopes that they would see magazines and newspapers as fair game in the advertising industry. Time Incorporated, for example, was well-known for throwing lavish parties and inviting as many advertising agencies as possible, all in the hopes of selling them advertising space.
It's important for an organization seeking an advertising agency to choose one that suits their needs. While smaller companies do just fine with the smaller agencies out there, the increase in the number of international trade agreements means there is a corresponding need for agencies with global capabilities. For larger companies who are looking for international exposure for their products and services, an advertising agency with international reach is absolutely necessary.
While there are only a few major holding companies, they do continue to operate as individual agencies, mostly to avoid client conflict. In other words, the manufacturer and distributor of a popular soft drink does not want its advertising campaign handled by an agency that's also handling the campaign of its competitor. Because of this concern, holding companies are very careful to stress the separation between agencies, particularly those that might work for competing clients.
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