How Important is Perception in Advertising?

Agreed, advertising is the most potent tool for companies to get spread awareness about products or services and augment customer base, which ultimately translates to increased sales and profits. Although, there are numerous elements in the psychology of advertising (visual appeal and message). But, perception is the most important and sadly, the most overlooked psychology!

The Robert Galbraith Syndrome

Let us understand how perception works using Robert Galbraith syndrome! The world knows about J.K Rowling. She is the first author who became a billionaire by writing books. The “Harry Potter” series sold over 450 million copies. However, despite favourable reviews, “The Cuckoo’s Calling”, written under pseudonym Robert Galbraith, sold less than 1,000 copies. However, once the word got out that Robert Galbraith was actually J.K. Rowling, the book had sold 1.1 million copies and climbed to the top of every best-seller list.


What’s more important, the book or the author? What’s more important, the product or the brand?

That’s the way it is with perceptions. They seldom change.



By now, this article has already established that the most difficult tasks marketing can undertake is to change perceptions. The general public treat perceptions as possessions, and thus, they don’t give them up easily. However, there are numerous examples where organizations have successfully changed public perceptions. Some of them are listed below:

Rolling Stone Magazine – Reality vs Perception

25 years ago, Rolling Stone Magazine was facing trouble selling advertisements. General public believed those who bought this magazine were hippies. Rolling Stone developed a campaign that ran for seven years, consistently showing that their readers were professionals who owned houses and cars and were more into health food than hash brownies. It is one of the most successful campaigns in the history of advertising.






‘The Message from God’ – Nestle Maggi

Year 2015 was a nightmare for Maggi, country’s most popular instant noodles. On June 5, 2015, Maggi was banned in India. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) order that accused the instant noodles of having lead and monosodium glutamate above permissible limits.

Although, Maggi never ceased to communicate with their customer. When Maggi was cleared of all charges, they came back with an emotional campaign, where mothers talked about Maggi being safe for kids.

But, Nestle didn’t stop there! They made an emotional advertisement which showed the long association of Nestle with Indian consumers.

Fair and Handsome – Mardo ki Fairness Cream

Back in the year 2005, fairness creams (in general, cosmetic products) were meant/manufactured for woman. With the launch of Fair and Handsome, Emami became the frontrunner in male cosmetics market in India. The Fair and Handsome range of products have been endorsed by Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan.

Although, this is a rare case in terms of advertising. Here perception about a product range is changed by an advertising campaign.

In Elon Musk’s words, “Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product.” Although, changing perception may seem tough, it is not impossible!

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