The Cost of Advertising: Analyzing the Effects of Bad Advertising

Sarah Brown, Pace University

Document Type Article


Businesses rely on advertising to build brands. However, if not done properly, advertising can become detrimental to a company’s success. Advertising that is offensive, alienating, or controversial, even if not intentional, can cost a company millions of dollars. Even worse, bad advertising can cost a company its loyal customers. The key to good advertising is to simplify the message, avoid questionable images and ideas, and communicate the benefits of a product. The main objectives of an advertising campaign should be to build brand awareness, and essentially, increase sales. Too often, advertising agencies become engaged with being creative, while losing focus on their purpose – to sell products. While bad advertising is never intentional, instances of it are still prevalent today. Even large, experienced companies continue to make mistakes in their advertising. Although the causes of these mistakes may vary, it is imperative for business leaders to know what will and won’t work, as well as the effects of their advertising decisions. This paper develops a taxonomy of bad advertising that managers can use as a framework when evaluating their advertising messages.