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Selling a Spear in the Stone Age: Advertising vs Marketing vs Public Relations


Imagine Ogg, a resourceful caveman, who crafted a magnificent new wooden spear. It’s stronger, lighter, and deadlier than anything his tribe has ever seen. Ogg wants everyone to know about his invention, but how does he get the word out in a world without billboards or social media? This prehistoric scenario perfectly illustrates the key differences between advertising, marketing, and public relations.

The Loud Cave Painting: Advertising

Ogg could climb the highest cliff and bellow about his spear from dawn till dusk. This is akin to advertising – a loud, direct message aimed at a broad audience. Ogg might paint a giant picture of his spear on the cave wall, hoping everyone who passes by will see it. This is similar to a billboard or a catchy commercial on primetime TV. Advertising is all about grabbing attention and creating a memorable impression. It’s the “wow factor” that gets people talking.

However, just like Ogg’s yelling might only attract curious onlookers, not necessarily buyers, advertising has its limitations. It doesn’t necessarily explain the benefits of the spear or why it’s better than existing tools.

The Alluring Display: Marketing

Ogg, being a clever caveman, decides to set up a display outside his hut. He leans his spear against a rock, highlighting its sleek design and sharp tip. He places alongside it a pile of animal skins, hinting at the successful hunts this spear has facilitated. This represents marketing – understanding the target audience and crafting a message that resonates with their needs.

Ogg isn’t just shouting about his product; he’s showcasing its value. He’s showing how his spear makes hunting easier and more rewarding. Marketing encompasses everything from product research and pricing to packaging and distribution. It’s about creating a compelling story around the product and ensuring it reaches the right people at the right time.

The Trusted Whisperer: Public Relations

One day, Grok, the tribe’s respected elder, approaches Ogg. Grok has seen Ogg’s spear in action and is impressed. He tells the other cavemen about its effectiveness, spreading the word through trusted channels. This is public relations (PR) at work. PR focuses on building relationships with key influencers – in this case, Grok – to generate positive word-of-mouth.

Ogg might also invite journalists (think cave painting chroniclers) to see his spear and write about it on the cave walls (think community news). PR is about earning trust and credibility. It’s the quiet endorsement that carries more weight than a loud boast.

The Winning Trio: Working Together

Now, imagine Ogg combines all these strategies. He uses advertising to create initial awareness with a catchy chant about his “ultimate hunting spear.” He uses marketing to display the spear’s features and benefits, highlighting how it will put more meat on the tribe’s table. Finally, he leverages PR by getting Grok and other respected hunters to endorse the spear.

Advertising vs Marketing vs Public Relations, which to choose? You don’t have to! This combination is a powerful marketing strategy. Advertising creates a buzz, marketing educates and entices, and PR builds trust and credibility.

Image credit: Microsoft