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What Is General Advertising?

Osmand Vitez
Osmand Vitez

General advertising is a marketing campaign companies use to inform consumers about products. Unlike directional advertising, the general form typically has universal appeal and does not focus on a singular demographic. The advertisements under these programs may be specific to each country in which a company advertises. The purpose for these general advertising techniques is to ensure that each country’s advertisements meet the cultural needs of consumers. A few different aspects for advertising processes generally arise in each marketing campaign.

The purpose of a general advertising campaign often has multiple goals. These may include informing first-time users about a product, establishing a brand in the current market, enticing current consumers to purchase new products, or launching a new product. Each method may occur at a different time for a company. In some cases, however, a company may simply use a single marketing campaign to accomplish all these goals. Regional changes to these commercials or advertising campaigns are common as the commercials can advertise specific products to an area.

Placing an ad in a newspaper can be considered general advertising, as a wide group of people will read it and not just a single demographic.
Placing an ad in a newspaper can be considered general advertising, as a wide group of people will read it and not just a single demographic.

Companies may find general advertising to be both expensive and inexpensive at times. The process can be expensive if a company is attempting to blanket a market with a current marketing message. For example, launching a new product may result in advertisements placed on radio, television, and newspapers. Though all of these can greatly extend the reach of marketing messages, the amount of advertising can be quite expensive, especially for a national campaign. A benefit to the process, however, is to find one radio or television group that can work on a national basis.

Advertising on the radio can be part of a general advertising campaign.
Advertising on the radio can be part of a general advertising campaign.

Inexpensive approaches to general advertising include the use of a single advertisement to blanket a market. This cuts down on the production costs for a specific advertisement agenda, whether on a radio or television delivery method or both. Another purpose of general advertising is the ability to retain advertisements for long time periods. For example, a severely generic commercial means a company can use the message in six to 12 months or greater. This creates both familiarity with consumers and saves money from producing new advertisements.

Magazines can be used for general advertising.
Magazines can be used for general advertising.

The creation of a specific general advertising campaign should still be an option for companies. For example, a company may need to create seasonal advertisements for a national campaign. This creates awareness for new seasons in a national sense, bringing in more consumers during expected times of higher sales for goods and services.

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Discussion Comments


@hamje32 - When I lived overseas I had access to satellite television and some news channels like CNN and others.

I saw commercials made by multinational companies. These commercials had never been shown in the United States. They appealed to an international audience even though the companies may have been based in America.

The commercials were very multicultural in their appeal. I thought they were quite refreshing actually.


@Charred - Yes, nothing beats television if you’ve got money to burn. Most people don’t however. I’ve heard that for these businesses radio commercials are the most cost effective option.

They are a lot less expensive, and since radio is not a visual medium, you can still be creative without incurring the costs of special effects and fancy visuals.

You can, for example, create a mini radio drama spot which you use to sell your stuff. All you need are a few voice actors and a clever script. The rest is left to the user’s imagination.


I agree that general advertising is the most expensive type of advertising that there is. Of course the best example of this is the Super Bowl, where advertisers will pay upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars – even close to a million dollars in some instances – for a thirty second spot.

Of course they know that they’re getting maximum exposure for that money. They also know that they’re only going to get that kind of exposure once a year. So what is the main purpose behind this kind of advertising?

I believe that it’s primarily brand awareness. That’s why you see advertisers use the Super Bowl spots to create funny, clever ads that get talked about in the days following the game. Some people watch the Super Bowl strictly for the advertisements alone as a matter of fact.


Some general advertising campaigns use a song in their ads that we, the listeners, learn to associate with that company every time we hear it. The song is always very catchy, and sometimes, it will be released simultaneously as a single by the artist, which helps promote the company running the ad in an indirect, subliminal way.

When a company relies on a song for their advertising appeal, they often skip the paper ads and stick to radio and TV. Since the music is such a big factor in their campaign, running a newspaper ad would be a waste of money.

I must say that this kind of campaign has been effective on me. I get the song stuck in my head, and then I get the urge to go shop at the store in the ad. Does this happen to anyone else?


@Perdido – I don't know how television stations do business, but I do know that newspapers offer discounts for running the same ad multiple times. I work at a furniture store, and we have a generic ad on file at the local newspaper that we run now and then and save money doing this.

The ad just has our basic information and our logo, along with a picture of the front of our store in the background. Unless we remodel the building or relocate, we will have no reason to alter the ad.

We run the ad with the newspaper whenever they are putting out a special section, like the holiday gift guide or the graduation section. That way, people who ordinarily don't read the paper will be picking it up for specific reasons, and they will see our ad in there.


It's rare, but I have seen major retail chains use the same holiday ad two years in a row. I remembered the ad from the previous year, because the local television station ran it during just about every commercial break.

I know the company must have spent a fortune on this general advertising campaign. That must be why they chose to use the same ad the following year. They probably couldn't afford to launch a new one!

I suppose if they didn't have to pay designers, actors, and video production people to craft a new TV ad, then they could save a good bit of money. Since the ad didn't feature any items they no longer carried, it was a safe route to go.


I work as a graphic designer for a newspaper, and several large companies send us ads that have already been designed. Since they are participating in a general advertising campaign, it is important to them that all the information and visual elements in their ads match.

Normally, I design ads per instructions given by a client. With prefabricated ads, I don't have to do anything but check to make sure they are the right size. If they do not meet our standard specifications, then the companies often prefer to reformat the ads themselves.

I understand this, because the same ad that runs in our newspaper will be running on television and radio. They want to make sure that everything remains cohesive.

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    • Placing an ad in a newspaper can be considered general advertising, as a wide group of people will read it and not just a single demographic.
      By: Petoo
      Placing an ad in a newspaper can be considered general advertising, as a wide group of people will read it and not just a single demographic.
    • Advertising on the radio can be part of a general advertising campaign.
      By: morchella
      Advertising on the radio can be part of a general advertising campaign.
    • Magazines can be used for general advertising.
      By: matka_Wariatka
      Magazines can be used for general advertising.