Illustrated by Sofia Garfias-Yi
Illustrated by Sofia Garfias-Yi

By Sofia Garfias-Yi

I’ll admit, the question stated in the image above stumped me. At first it baffled me simply because as I searched through my memories, I couldn’t recall ever viewing a single Starbucks commercial. I initially convinced myself that it was because I have a terrible memory or that I hardly watch TV. While these reasons can’t be helped, the second one wasn’t exactly the most viable. After all, how can I explain that I still remember Luna’s phone number off the top of my head? Or the iconic, “15 minutes can save you 15% on car insurance” phrase from GEICO? As I thought more about this, I realized the genius of Starbucks. They don’t need catchy, repetitive advertisements in the media to compel us to buy one of their products. We live in the advertisement itself. Look anywhere on a dreary morning, and sure enough, most of your peers’ hands are attached to the classic white cup adorned with the green insignia. The chains line busy roads, making it easy to get a caffeine fix anywhere. Starbucks has simply reached the point where its products advertise themselves.

After this realization, I decided to do a little more research. A Huffington Post Article published in 2013, “10 Cult Brands So Popular They Don’t Need To Advertise” further solidified my findings. At the top is a picture of Sriracha. When’s the last time you’ve seen a Sriracha commercial? Probably never. How about a Chapstick commercial? Converse? These brands have become so well known that their existence in our everyday lives are advertisements themselves.

An interesting case to look at is Apple. Yes, they do have a decent amount of commercials and advertisements floating around, but they are special in the sense that their presence in our lives is similar to Starbucks. While an Apple commercial might push you to buy one of their products, it’s possible that you’ve already been pinned to their products simply by seeing other people use them. Take our campus for example. What else do you see other than the Starbucks cups? If you look around lecture halls and the libraries, you will notice the varieties of MacBook laptops dotting the room. They’re everywhere.

Granted, I’m mostly focusing on the lack of specific advertisements on television, since many of the products that I’ve mentioned above are advertised in different ways. But in our highly globalized society where messages can be sent in less than a second, we have become beings that are constantly being bombarded by advertisements. This phenomenon has been seen as contributing to our consumerist society, with shocking statistics as to how many ads are exposed to each day. But as we think about these brands and their lack of explicit advertising, it’s important to look at two specific questions:

How and why do companies continuously advertise products to us? And what does it mean when companies no longer need to explicitly advertise their products?

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Written by Ad Buzz

The American Advertising Federation Illinois Chapter brings to you Ad Buzz, a blog dedicated to all things advertising related, from our favorite campaigns to trends going on in the industry.

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