Surrogate Advertising In A Nutshell

Surrogate advertising is a promotional strategy used to advertise banned products like alcohol or cigarettes. These products are advertised indirectly or masked by another product, called the surrogate.

Understanding surrogate advertising

Surrogate advertising works by duplicating the brand image of a banned product to promote an unbanned product from the same brand. Consumers subject to surrogate advertising associate the latter product with the former in a form of brand recall. This form of recall occurs when a consumer recalls a particular brand after being prompted by a certain product category.

Some argue that surrogate advertising is an emerging ethical and legal issue in the advertising industry. The term is thought to have originated in the United Kingdom as rising levels of domestic violence were linked with alcohol advertisements.

After mass protests by disgruntled housewives, the promotion of alcohol was banned and beverage companies were forced to adapt their marketing strategies accordingly. Surrogate advertisements for fruit juices, soda water, and cocktail mixers quickly took the place of the banned alcoholic products they were associated with.

Five surrogate advertising strategies

Here are some common ways brands use surrogate advertising to their advantage:

  1. Promotion by extension – where a company promotes new products under a familiar brand name to avoid bans in a certain product category. Beer producer Kingfisher invested heavily in domestic air travel with travel lounges and a freight service to promote their alcoholic beverages. It has also produced yearly calendars with swimsuit models and has sponsored video content consumed by its target audience.
  2. Promotion by association – where a company focuses on brand value proposition through celebrity endorsements. Royal Challenge is an Indian whisky producer that also owns Royal Challengers Bangalore, a high-profile franchise sports team.
  3. Promotion via television commercials or content – a common form of surrogate advertising where products outside of a typical company product range are advertised. Royal Challenge also advertises branded water bottles and playing cards to consumers to reinforce their alcoholic brand. Television content can also be a form of surrogate advertising, with the hit series Mad Men set in the 1960s seen as a form of advertising for big tobacco companies.
  4. Event sponsorship promotion – where a company simply leaves a brand logo at an event likely to attract a large congregation of people.
  5. Promotion through public service announcements – companies whose products pose a public health risk may use public service announcements stating as much. However, some use subtle cues such as color to associate the announcement with the brand of the product causing ill health. This form of surrogate advertising ultimately contradicts messaging in the advertisement around responsible consumption.

Key takeaways:

  • Surrogate advertising is a strategy used to promote banned products such as alcohol and cigarettes. Companies deliberately associate a banned product with a legal product of the same brand, triggering brand recall in the consumer.
  • Surrogate advertising is thought to have originated in the UK, where rising levels of domestic violence were linked with the advertising of alcoholic beverages.
  • Surrogate advertising can be performed in several ways. Promotion of a banned product may be achieved through product extension or association. Companies also target television, large events, and public service announcements.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing describes the process whereby an affiliate earns a commission for selling the products of another person or company. Here, the affiliate is simply an individual who is motivated to promote a particular product through incentivization. The business whose product is being promoted will gain in terms of sales and marketing from affiliates.

Ambush Marketing

As the name suggests, ambush marketing raises awareness for brands at events in a covert and unexpected fashion. Ambush marketing takes many forms, one common element, the brand advertising their products or services has not paid for the right to do so. Thus, the business doing the ambushing attempts to capitalize on the efforts made by the business sponsoring the event.

Brand Building

Brand building is the set of activities that help companies to build an identity that can be recognized by its audience. Thus, it works as a mechanism of identification through core values that signal trust and that help build long-term relationships between the brand and its key stakeholders.

Brand Equity

The brand equity is the premium that a customer is willing to pay for a product that has all the objective characteristics of existing alternatives, thus, making it different in terms of perception. The premium on seemingly equal products and quality is attributable to its brand equity.

Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is about creating a mental real estate in the mind of the target market. If successful, brand positioning allows a business to gain a competitive advantage. And it also works as a switching cost in favor of the brand. Consumers recognizing a brand might be less prone to switch to another brand.

Business Storytelling

Business storytelling is a critical part of developing a business model. Indeed, the way you frame the story of your organization will influence its brand in the long-term. That’s because your brand story is tied to your brand identity, and it enables people to identify with a company.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of the most powerful commercial activities which focuses on leveraging content production (text, audio, video, or other formats) to attract a targeted audience. Content marketing focuses on building a strong brand, but also to convert part of that targeted audience into potential customers.

Digital Marketing

A digital channel is a marketing channel, part of a distribution strategy, helping an organization to reach its potential customers via electronic means. There are several digital marketing channels, usually divided into organic and paid channels. Some organic channels are SEO, SMO, email marketing. And some paid channels comprise SEM, SMM, and display advertising.

Growth Marketing

Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that seeks to utilize low-cost and sometimes unconventional tactics that are high impact. First coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book of the same title, guerrilla marketing works best on existing customers who are familiar with a brand or product and its particular characteristics.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.

Integrated Marketing

Integrated marketing describes the process of delivering consistent and relevant content to a target audience across all marketing channels. It is a cohesive, unified, and immersive marketing strategy that is cost-effective and relies on brand identity and storytelling to amplify the brand to a wider and wider audience.

Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is a term to describe the multi-faceted approach to a complete and effective marketing plan. Traditionally, this plan included the four Ps of marketing: price, product, promotion, and place. But the exact makeup of a marketing mix has undergone various changes in response to new technologies and ways of thinking. Additions to the four Ps include physical evidence, people, process, and even politics.

Marketing Personas

Marketing personas give businesses a general overview of key segments of their target audience and how these segments interact with their brand. Marketing personas are based on the data of an ideal, fictional customer whose characteristics, needs, and motivations are representative of a broader market segment.

Multi-Channel Marketing

Multichannel marketing executes a marketing strategy across multiple platforms to reach as many consumers as possible. Here, a platform may refer to product packaging, word-of-mouth advertising, mobile apps, email, websites, or promotional events, and all the other channels that can help amplify the brand to reach as many consumers as possible.

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-level marketing (MLM), otherwise known as network or referral marketing, is a strategy in which businesses sell their products through person-to-person sales. When consumers join MLM programs, they act as distributors. Distributors make money by selling the product directly to other consumers. They earn a small percentage of sales from those that they recruit to do the same – often referred to as their “downline”.

Niche Marketing

A microniche is a subset of potential customers within a niche. In the era of dominating digital super-platforms, identifying a microniche can kick off the strategy of digital businesses to prevent competition against large platforms. As the microniche becomes a niche, then a market, scale becomes an option.

Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing involves businesses and their brands forming long-term relationships with customers. The focus of relationship marketing is to increase customer loyalty and engagement through high-quality products and services. It differs from short-term processes focused solely on customer acquisition and individual sales.

Sustainable Marketing

Sustainable marketing describes how a business will invest in social and environmental initiatives as part of its marketing strategy. Also known as green marketing, it is often used to counteract public criticism around wastage, misleading advertising, and poor quality or unsafe products.

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