“Media advertising is in trouble. And it’s not going to get well. Ever.”


I’m perplexed. For over two decades, marketers have been describing the death of mass
marketing. In 2005, Joseph Jaffe wrote a book detailing the end of mass media. The book, titled
“Life After the 30-Second Spot” attributed the death of mass media (broadcast and print media)
to audience fragmentation and mass marketing clutter.

It is estimated that consumers are bombarded with over 5,000 marketing messages every day.
This clutter has resulted in a rapid decline in brand awareness. In 1965, 34% of viewers could
name a brand that advertised in a show they watched last night. In 2000, that number dropped
to 9%. In contrast, in 2017 90%*of promotional product recipients could recall the name of a
company from which they received a promo item.

Adding to the failure of mass media is audience fragmentation. In 1983, 105 million people
watched the last episode of M*A*S*H. In 1998, 76 million people watched the final episode of
Seinfeld…a 19% drop. Why, because in 1983, television viewers had but three channel options
(ABC, CBS, NBC). By 1998, viewers had as many as 200 or more options with the addition of
cable television. It’s not that there were fewer viewers, but that viewers had more viewing
options. The audience per program became fragmented and advertising dollars became less

So, why am I perplexed? Because businesses, despite the decline of effectiveness, spend 188.3
billion dollars on broadcast and print media and only 20.8 billion on promotion products. And
yet, when comparing advertising channels, promotional products (90%) out-perform broadcast
(30%) and print (20%) when asking consumers to recall an advertised brand.

Finally, advertising is designed to get consumers to take action. Promotional products achieve
this goal. PPAI research shows that 83% of consumers are more likely to do business with brands
from which they have received promo products. That compares to broadcast advertising at 17%
and print advertising at 12%.

Suppliers, distributors PPAI and ASI, must unite to demonstrate to businesses the power of
promotional products and convince them to realign their marketing budgets to increase their