commercial - advertisement - publicity

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LV4-26

Senior Member
Hello friends,

I've long been struggling with the use of those three words and I still feel uncomfortable with them. Could you tell me the difference between them, the proper meaning scope of each word, adding examples if possible?

I tried to make up three examples where I don't think they're interchangeable. I'd like your advice.

1. Yesterday, I saw an advertisement in the newspapers about a new vacuum cleaner
2. I've already seen this commercial on another channel
3. Full publicity should be given to this project.

Any input appreciated
Jean-Michel
 
  • timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Hi Jean-Michel

    Yes - all your sentences are fine. In the UK we talk about "adverts" (or, less commonly "advertisements") on the TV, although as in all areas the US "commercials" is gaining ground. You could say "advert" or "advertisment" for your no.1 ("advert" is a bit more common, I'd say).
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    In Ireland 'advertisements' tends to mean anything paid for - but excluding broadcasting - which promotes a product or service. 'Commercial' usually means Broadcast paid material.
    Publicity is usually reserved for Public Relations material, which when sent to media outlets become the basis for 'editorial matter' which appears to be "independent".

    Nowadays with companies paying for editorial matter - which may or may not be marked as advertising by the publisher - the distinctions are becoming blurred.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    maxiogee said:
    ...
    Nowadays with companies paying for editorial matter - which may or may not be marked as advertising by the publisher - the distinctions are becoming blurred.
    You are right, but this is really nothing new. It is probably as old as the first non-party-run newspapers. Neither is

    product placement

    something new. (just to mention a fourth term that fit into the row). It has been going on for decades.
     

    nickditoro

    Senior Member
    English/USA
    LV4-26 said:
    Hello friends,

    I've long been struggling with the use of those three words and I still feel uncomfortable with them. Could you tell me the difference between them, the proper meaning scope of each word, adding examples if possible?

    I tried to make up three examples where I don't think they're interchangeable. I'd like your advice.

    1. Yesterday, I saw an advertisement in the newspapers about a new vacuum cleaner
    2. I've already seen this commercial on another channel
    3. Full publicity should be given to this project.

    Any input appreciated
    Jean-Michel
    Jean-Michel, the posts on the subject have all been excellent, so I won't try to provide a U.S. slant on any of them. What I might do, though, is provide a wider context for what businesses are attempting to accomplish through the channels referred to by "advertisement," "commercial," and "publicity."

    The first two are usually produced by advertising agencies, and are typically focused on specific campaigns to market a certain product to a target audience in the appropriate media (specific magazines, newspapers, etc.), or in the case of TV commercials (adverts), on specific shows (programmes) at certain times. In other words, advertising is a strategic avenue for marketing a product or line of products.

    Publicity -- public relations or "PR" -- is usually in the hands of company departments or outside firms whose goal is maintaining, enhancing, or, occasionally, restoring the company's name and image. Typically, PR is unrelated to marketing specific products, although there are occasional "tie-ins." One of the major vehicles for publicity is the press release: a carefully worded announcement to the press about some aspect of the company's stock or earnings, comings and goings of executives, plant openings or closings. It's the publicity people who are concerned whether the company sponsors particular charity events, or the design of the company's logo and letterhead.

    I hope this wasn't too off-topic but I thought a little background might make the words you posted a bit clearer.

    Nick
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    timpeac said:
    Hi Jean-Michel

    Yes - all your sentences are fine. In the UK we talk about "adverts" (or, less commonly "advertisements") on the TV, although as in all areas the US "commercials" is gaining ground. You could say "advert" or "advertisment" for your no.1 ("advert" is a bit more common, I'd say).
    G'day timpeac,
    Would not 'ad' be a more common form of 'advert'?
    I have never heard anyone refer to an advert.

    .,,
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    . said:
    G'day timpeac,
    Would not 'ad' be a more common form of 'advert'?
    I have never heard anyone refer to an advert.

    .,,
    Definitely not round here - although I can imagine that geographical variation could be quite a big factor here. "Oi, go and make me a cup of tea while the adverts are on" - I would never say "ads" or "commercials" in such a phrase.:)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Up here we only have ads, we don't bother with the vert bit.
    Run out and paint the house while the ads are on.
    Yep, that's familiar.

    In a more formal context, those things are advertisements or commercials.

    An advertisement could be on TV, in a cinema, in a newspaper, on an advertising hoarding, on a notice board ...

    A commercial can only be on TV.

    Publicity is a much more complicated and fanciful word. Publicity might involve ads, advertisements, commercials .....
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    panjandrum said:
    An advertisement could be on TV, in a cinema, in a newspaper, on an advertising hoarding, on a notice board ...

    A commercial can only be on TV.
    Then, in my example #2, I could have written
    I've already seen this advertisement [instead of commercial] on another channel
    (When I'd asked a question about how interchangeable they are, I was mainly thinking of those two)

    Or is there a slight difference with the original (meaning, formality, geographical location, circumstances...)?If I understood well, commercial started in America and is gaining ground in England (Tim's post). How long have the Irish been familiar with this word? (very roughly, I mean. Was it before the English do you think?)
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    LV4-26 said:
    Then, in my example #2, I could have written
    I've already seen this advertisement [instead of commercial] on another channel
    (When I'd asked a question about how interchangeable they are, I was mainly thinking of those two)

    Or is there a slight difference with the original (meaning, formality, geographical location, circumstances...)?If I understood well, commercial started in America and is gaining ground in England (Tim's post). How long have the Irish been familiar with this word?
    Not in my usage - we talk of "the adverts" on TV. "What's on after the adverts have finished?". I'm sure I would never ever say "advertisement" there. In a newspaper I would be likely to say "advert" or "ad" but "advertisment" would be a possibility. I can't explain why it seems acceptable in one situation and not another.
     
    We abbreviate "adverisement" to "ad" in England, in newspapers, where we have "Small Ads" columns. These are short, personal, advertisements such as "Old chest of drawers for sale - Tel. 987 654 321". The same as your French "Petites Annonces" columns.

    Sometimes these columns are free. They are called "Free Ads". (Surprise, surprise! :p )





    LRV
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    LV4-26 said:
    Then, in my example #2, I could have written
    I've already seen this advertisement [instead of commercial] on another channel
    (When I'd asked a question about how interchangeable they are, I was mainly thinking of those two)

    Or is there a slight difference with the original (meaning, formality, geographical location, circumstances...)?If I understood well, commercial started in America and is gaining ground in England (Tim's post). How long have the Irish been familiar with this word? (very roughly, I mean. Was it before the English do you think?)
    Up here, Northern Ireland, we talk about the ads, mostly.
    Commercial, now that I look at it, is a strange word.
    We have used commercial to mean a TV ad for a very long time - but I can't give you a date, sorry.
    I think it came from the phrase "commercial break", a break in the real programme when the ads were presented.
    If that is correct, it dates from the time when commercial TV was introduced.
    1954

    Television Act establishes commercial television and sets up the ITA (Independent Television Authority). First director general is Sir Robert Fraser, first Chairman is Sir Kenneth Clark
    1955

    Independent television begins, in the London area, with a live transmission from the Guildhall (the BBC had been broadcasting since 1936).
    The first commercial is screened, for Gibbs SR toothpaste
    Key programme: Sunday Night At the London Palladium (ATV)
    Source
     
    In my experience, we (in America) use the term "ad", or more formally "advertisement", though not "advert", to refer to a form of printed advertisement such as one might see in a newspaper or magazine.

    We use the term "commercial" to refer to advertisements on television (or at least I do ;))

    As for publicity, as nickditto said, we usually use that term to refer to a product or company that gets some sort of news coverage. Occasionally a famous person or established group can be considered to have received, or gotten, publicity if given news coverage.
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    Advertisement - the promotion of a product or service

    Commercial - an advertisement that is presented on television, radio, or film
     

    nickditoro

    Senior Member
    English/USA
    amorelli said:
    In my experience, we (in America) use the term "ad", or more formally "advertisement", though not "advert", to refer to a form of printed advertisement such as one might see in a newspaper or magazine.

    We use the term "commercial" to refer to advertisements on television (or at least I do ;))

    As for publicity, as nickditto said, we usually use that term to refer to a product or company that gets some sort of news coverage. Occasionally a famous person or established group can be considered to have received, or gotten, publicity if given news coverage.
    I thought "advert" to be a strange term too, but I put it in parens -- as I did with "programmes" -- as BE equivalents of the AE terms. Like you, I distinguish between "ads" and "commercials": ads are for for print, commercials are for TV.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Thanks a lot guys. Those were interesting insights. Special thanks to nickditoro for his analysis of the words "publicity" and "public relations"

    Mind if I make a little summary?
    What has been said confirms my first impression (see my examples 1 and 2)
    - ads are mainly printed
    - commercials are rather on TV


    HOWEVER
    The above seems to be true only in AE (and maybe not everywhere in the US as river's post suggested that advertisements "include" commercials).

    In BE, "adverts" are still used as an alternative (and preferably to) commercials as far as TV is concerned. At least, for the time being but it may change soon.
     

    nickditoro

    Senior Member
    English/USA
    LV4-26 said:
    Thanks a lot guys. Those were interesting insights. Special thanks to nickditoro for his analysis of the words "publicity" and "public relations"

    Mind if I make a little summary?
    What has been said confirms my first impression (see my examples 1 and 2)
    - ads are mainly printed
    - commercials are rather on TV


    HOWEVER
    The above seems to be true only in AE (and maybe not everywhere in the US as river's post suggested that advertisements "include" commercials).

    In BE, "adverts" are still used as an alternative (and preferably to) commercials as far as TV is concerned. At least, for the time being but it may change soon.
    First, you're welcome. Second, advertisements in the broader sense are simply the products of advertising, which itself is a tool of marketing. Advertisements include any and all forms used by advertisers to reach their target audience for the purpose of influencing people to buy their products: ads in print, ads inside and outside subways and buses, commericials on TV, radio and now alongside feature films in the cinemas, skywriting. What everyone has tried to define is, in their common parlance, which types of advertisements are used in which sense or which meda: ads for print, commericials for TV, etc. But in the end, they're all advertisements.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    nickditoro said:
    What everyone has tried to define is, in their common parlance, which types of advertisements are used in which sense or which meda: ads for print, commericials for TV, etc. But in the end, they're all advertisements.
    Right. That means ad(s) and advertisement, though having obviously the same etymology (ad is a short form for advertisement, and so is the British advert, right?) do not have the same meaning. Advertisement has a larger meaning than ad, as it both includes/encompasses ads and commercials. Have I understood well?
     

    nickditoro

    Senior Member
    English/USA
    LV4-26 said:
    Right. That means ad(s) and advertisement, though having obviously the same etymology (ad is a short form for advertisement, and so is the British advert, right?) do not have the same meaning. Advertisement has a larger meaning than ad, as it both includes/encompasses ads and commercials. Have I understood well?
    Yes, I think that is a fair statement.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    LV4-26 said:
    Right. That means ad(s) and advertisement, though having obviously the same etymology (ad is a short form for advertisement, and so is the British advert, right?) do not have the same meaning. Advertisement has a larger meaning than ad, as it both includes/encompasses ads and commercials. Have I understood well?
    I think you are concluding a little too much from the variations in usage that have been described here.

    Ad and advert are short, informal, forms of advertisement. Anything that could be called an advertisement could also be called an ad. I don't use the word advert, so I can't say the same for advert - it may be true.

    A commercial is an advertisement on TV. This is also called an advert or an ad. To my knowledge, only TV ads are called commercials.

    Newspaper advertisements include the "small ads" already mentioned, up to full page ads.
     

    nickditoro

    Senior Member
    English/USA
    panjandrum said:
    I think you are concluding a little too much from the variations in usage that have been described here.

    Ad and advert are short, informal, forms of advertisement. Anything that could be called an advertisement could also be called an ad. I don't use the word advert, so I can't say the same for advert - it may be true.

    A commercial is an advertisement on TV. This is also called an advert or an ad. To my knowledge, only TV ads are called commercials.

    Newspaper advertisements include the "small ads" already mentioned, up to full page ads.
    But it gets worse. Here in the US, people will often say, "I saw an ad on TV for whatever."
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    LV4-26 said:
    Right. That means ad(s) and advertisement, though having obviously the same etymology (ad is a short form for advertisement, and so is the British advert, right?) do not have the same meaning. Advertisement has a larger meaning than ad, as it both includes/encompasses ads and commercials. Have I understood well?
    To my understanding all three terms refer to the same thing.
    An advertisement is a commercial.

    .,,
     

    Vladislav

    Senior Member
    Russian,Spanish
    Nick, but is it simply a brief form of advertisement? Like TV for television, I mean.

    Is it more o less normal to use ads instead of advertisements when talking about the newspapers? Or both forms are commonly used?
     

    winklepicker

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    Nowadays with companies paying for editorial matter - which may or may not be marked as advertising by the publisher - the distinctions are becoming blurred.
    Hence the portmanteau 'advertorial'.

    Nick, but is it simply a brief form of advertisement? Like TV for television, I mean.

    Is it more or less normal to use ads instead of advertisements when talking about the newspapers? Or both forms are commonly used?
    Ads or adverts is informal, advertisements is formal. Round these parts, very few people would say advertisements in everyday speech. But they would not say ads or adverts in formal writing.
     
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