Three Classic Theories
That Influence Billboard Advertising

Over time there have been many theories about what makes people tick. These theories have been proven repeatedly and influence a lot of factors in people’s lives. The way they live, what they drive, what they eat, their norms and values, and their view of themselves and others are all related in one way or another to certain classic theories. Advertising is no different, and these theories, no matter how old, can improve the quality and effectiveness of your billboard advertising. Here are three of the most popular theories that are routinely applied to advertising.


  1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Maslow stated human needs in priority in a triangular format with five layers. The most important are the physical needs (food, water, sleep, warmth), second is safety needs, third is the needs that relate to love and belonging, fourth is the needs of the esteem, and fifth is the need for self-actualisation. No matter which product or service your company advertises, it will inevitably fall into one of these categories. The way the advertising is presented therefore must create a need and then fulfil that need with the brand. Even though the most important need is the basic physical need, advertising is more effective if it appeals to more than one category in the hierarchy. For instance, if you sell a food product, which is a basic need, you can also appeal to the need for esteem by creating a product that looks and tastes exclusive. Security companies, for instance, can appeal to the need for effective security and safety while also building on the need for self-actualisation.
  2. Game Theory: Probably the theory that is most present in business and advertising today, Game Theory involves being “in the game” and getting ahead of the competition. While it is hard to guess what the competition is thinking and doing, it is vital that the business makes educated guesses regarding the next move of the competitor, and then get there before the competition does. This theory also dictates that no actions of one company should harm the competitor, in order to keep a level playing field and to keep advertising and business fair.
  3. Planned Behaviour Theory: On the opposite side of Game Theory is Planned Behaviour Theory, which states that it is indeed possible to anticipate the next move of the competition with relative accuracy. If the target market is understood properly, their past behaviour can be indicative of future behaviour, and their norms, values, belief systems must all be considered in any effort to advertise in order to be effective. Today we have market research and trend analysis, and even social media and customer data can be analysed in order to gain a better picture of what the customer needs are and how best to appeal to them.


There are many other theories that drive advertising and it helps to understand these before starting an advertising campaign. All of these should be kept in mind to make your billboard advertising more effective!