Advertising, in one form or another, has been around for decades, and has been an integral way of increasing the sales of a company’s products or services. Yet the way companies advertise has changed. The days of the humble billboard and neon sign are becoming a thing of the past, giving way to a more persistent and aggressive way of generating demand, resulting in what we now know as ‘spam’.

In a world where we are forced to watch or listen to adverts before we can consume the service, companies need to look for new and innovative ways of increasing sales, without bombarding potential customers. One way of doing this is by humanising the company.

Take the annual Christmas advert of UK department store, John Lewis. A tradition since 2007, these adverts often tell a festive story, rather than promoting the business’ products. By doing so, they resonate with the consumer, resulting in an increase in general sales and awareness of the company.

#MontythePenguin, this year’s advert, is no exception, leading to a 903% increase in consumption of John Lewis goods. Of course, it was accompanied by a host of penguin-themed products, but these weren’t directly advertised in the commercial.

This dynamic approach to advertising has become something of a talking point over the last decade, and shows that word of mouth is still king when it comes to advertising.

So, where does that leave modern ways of advertising? Are there companies as big as John Lewis still choosing to take the consumerist approach?

Unlike John Lewis’ adored advert, Spotify is often bombarded with criticism for its use of adverts. A quick search of ‘adverts in Spotify’ into Google brings up a page filled with tutorials and videos on how to remove them. Couple that with recent US statistics on adverts in videos, which showed that only 20% of video adverts played to completion were in view of the user, and it could be concluded that the imposed ‘buy this’ advert is becoming redundant.

The future of advertising, therefore, seems to lie in both promoting the business in a way that doesn’t impact on the customer’s experience, and breaks down the commercial nature of an advert.

However, businesses need to consider the potential benefits and disadvantages of the prominent advertising models that exist, and whether humanising the business could be the ticket to success.