Throughout our Principles of Marketing tutorials, we make a strong effort to point out how marketing is not just something that is only undertaken by for-profit companies; not-for-profits must also direct attention to developing a strong marketing plan. While both not-for-profit and for-profit organizations must engage in marketing activity, when it comes to the advertising side of marketing, it would appear there is a major difference between the two groups in that for-profits are by far bigger spenders. This is easy to see when watching television. It seems nearly all ads that appear are for products and services offered by for-profit companies.
But while ads by for-profits overwhelming dominant television, not-for-profits also use television ads to get their message out. In fact, because not-for-profit advertisements are less frequently presented compared to ads that promote products, advertisements by not-for-profits may be more likely to catch audience attention because they are often considered to be different. In the U.S., the most famous not-for-profit television advertisements have been developed by the Ad Council. Since the 1940s, this group has produced many legendary public service advertisements covering such issues as wildfire prevention, anti-pollution, crime prevention, autism awareness and many more.
While the Ad Council and other not-for-profit groups, such as charities, medical support groups, rights groups and environmental groups, focus on creating public awareness of important social, health and environmental issues, not-for-profit trade associations primarily use advertising to create public awareness of its members. Some examples of trade groups frequently promoting the services of its members are National Association of Realtors, with their message of how realtors can help; California Milk Processor Board, with ads encouraging milk consumption; and the American Petroleum Institute, with ads supporting energy independence.
We can now add to the list of not-for-profit trade groups who spend large sums on advertising, the American Institute of Architects (AIA). As reported in this AdWeek story, for the first time in its 157-year history, the AIA has launched an advertising campaign with the goal of building awareness of what architects do. Apparently the motivation for this comes from research suggesting, that while architects are well respected, the tasks they perform are not well understood. While the amount of money being spent on this campaign is not known, the group does indicate this is just the beginning of a three-year campaign, suggesting they have budgeted several million dollars to get their message out.