The sales and communication school of objective setting has created much debate amongst academics and advertising practitioners. This essay aims to critically discuss this debate listing examples of objectives each school wish to achieve and explain how the product life cycle informs objective setting with examples of products at certain stages in the life cycle. Advertising is one part of the promotional mix. A firm can also promote its product or services through public relations, personal selling, direct marketing and sales promotion. Advertising objectives are set in line with overall promotional and marketing objectives which in turn relate to the overall corporate objectives of the organisation. Objectives in any organisation must be SMART, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time scaled. Batra et al (1999) describes objective setting as being a communication tool, serving as a criterion for decision making and providing a benchmark for success or failure of programme. Objectives play an important role in the advertising strategy as they must coordinate an organisations plan. McCarthy et al (1975, p.220) highlight this point when they discuss "the inseparability of objectives and planning". Objectives are set as an effective criteria for decision making and should provide standards with which results can be compared. As stated earlier these grow from the firms overall marketing strategy. Different objectives are set in order to achieve particular goal. As Perreault et al (2012) highlights, it is not enough for a marketing manager to say ‘Promote the product’ they must decide on exactly what the advertising must do. Two schools of thought exist on the basis on which objectives should be set on, the sales school and communications school of objective setting. Moriarty (1996) highlights these schools of thought and the difficulty advertising practitioner’s face when measuring the effectiveness of a campaign, Setting objectives is the first step in the planning of an advertising campaign. The difficulty is what to base those objectives on. The difficulty is whether to state a behavioural response as a measurement of advertising effectiveness and whether to tie advertising to sales impact. The sales school of thought suggests that the reason a firm spends money on communication is to sell its product or services. Any money spent on communications should produce measureable sales results, these results reflect the effectiveness of the advertising campaign. The communications school disagrees that sales are the only goal. Advocates of the communication theory believe that the reason a firm spends money on advertising is to communicate and objectives should be based on communication effects. As noted earlier advertising comes under the promotional mix which subsequently is part of the marketing mix. While being set in line with marketing objectives, advertising has objectives of its own. Yeshin (2006) highlights that a distinction must be made between marketing and advertising objectives and implies that sales belong to marketing rather than advertising. “[Marketing] is concerned with issues such as pricing policy and profitability, distribution policy and targets and sales volume.” (Yeshin, 2006 p.243). Advertising on the other hand relates to awareness and perceptions of the brand, brand positioning, values and consumer behaviour. Authors such as Jones (1995) disagree with this theory and believes that the main objective of advertising is to produce sales. Jones’ study is based on the positive short term sales impact generated by promotional advertising on brands used in a household. As noted earlier all objectives must be smart. Batra reminds us that objectives must be measurable. He gives examples of where immediate sales are a good operational objective such as mail order advertising and retail advertising, as “the measure is usually readily available to ‘evaluate’ the results.” (p123). In situations...
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