Corporate advertising is usually easy to recognise, but can be hard to define (4). It is advertising for an organisation, rather than a brand (even if the company and brand names are identical) (1, 9); it is generally targeted at a wider range of stakeholders (investors, government, opinion formers, employees, distributors, for example (4, 7)) than is brand advertising, where the target is primarily end-users/consumers/customers; and its role is primarily to influence the company’s reputation, rather than to make a sale.
In practice, corporate ad campaigns can be designed to fulfil a variety of roles (3), against any of a variety of audiences or stakeholders (1, 3, 7), and they may well involve relatively little media advertising and a hefty element of PR, sponsorship, and so on, not to mention the corporate website (3, 4, 16, 18):
- to strengthen or (more usually) alter the overall reputation of an established company (oil and energy companies, especially) (7, 14, 15, 16, 18, 21, 22)
- to launch a new (or newly merged) company, and create awareness and understanding (most recently, Thomson Reuters) (6, 17)
- to launch a company on the stock market (any IPO)
- to support a takeover bid, or defend against it
- to support a major initiative in the broad field of corporate social responsibility (many energy companies, Marks & Spencer, and so on) (8, 21)
- to advocate a position on an issue of importance to the company (Toyota, Honda, Veolia) (8, 9)
- to motivate and perhaps recruit employees (investment banks) (2, 14, 15, 16, 20)
- to motivate distributors and/or retailers (many high-tech companies, much sponsorship) (19)
- to reassure, and perhaps recruit, customers (many financial services companies) (14, 20).