The Subtle Art of Institutional Advertising

Institutional advertising plays a significant role in the marketing efforts

What Is Institutional Advertising

Have you ever seen those advertisements that don’t seem to be advertising any product or service in particular? Or those video clips from brands doing the rounds on TV these days show their concern for the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic? Some make you wonder why a brand would spend money to put out such an advertisement, and some seem pointless, right?

Wrong. These are thought-out marketing practices leveraged by brands to increase brand awareness and make the brand principles clear to the public. Yes, you read that right the first time around, they are marketing practices. Despite not coming across as marketing efforts, this indeed is a method that brands utilize to improve outcomes in the long run. This method of advertising is called institutional advertising.

What Is Institutional Advertising?

Institutional advertising is any advertising that is used to promote a business or an organization. In institutional advertising, rather than pushing products, as in traditional marketing, brands promote themselves.

Institutional advertising is not aimed at direct selling and instead looks to create a specific brand image and build goodwill, while also informing customers about the purpose of the organization. It is aimed at informing the public about the work done by the company in the fields of healthcare, environment, and education, among others.

Institutional Advertising Objectives

Institutional advertising is different from other marketing and advertising methods as it does not look to promote products or services or even generate revenue in the short-term. Institutional marketing is a process that gets a brand into the ‘good books’ of its target audience and creates a specific, well-structured brand image that sits well with consumers from all walks of life. This necessitates the clarification of the objectives of institutional marketing, which are mentioned as follows.

Institutional Advertising Objectives

  • Brand image promotion
  • Promotion of brand philosophy, mission, and vision
  • Maintaining goodwill about the organization
  • Promotion of qualities such as reliability, affordability, and good customer care

Importance of Institutional Advertising

Institutional Advertising

Institutional advertising is designed in a manner that informs the public about changes within organizations. With institutional advertising, marketers look to restore trust and reshape public opinion about the brand.

Institutional advertising is leverage by marketers to recover the brand and influence public perception. The restructuring of how people think about a brand is significant for a company, especially for one that may be going through a crisis. Institutional advertising is utilized by companies that have newly been launched.
Other than the apparent applications, institutional advertising is used by brands to increase competitiveness among similar brands, humanize brands, and increase perceived brand value.

Institutional advertising provides brands with unique personalities, which help them stand out and appeal more to the public. It looks to train employees and instill a sense of belonging to the brand while creating fans and allies out of their audiences. This method of advertising is advised for big brands that have created a name for themselves in the market and look to increase sales by improving the brand image in the eyes of the target audience.

Institutional Advertising Advantages

  • Increased Brand Awareness

Building brand image by leveraging institutional advertising results in increased brand awareness.

  • The building of Brand Identity

The setting of brand mission, value, and principles leads to the formation of a brand identity.

  • Development of a Subtle Sales Pitch

In the case of institutional advertising, the target audience is subjected to ooh advertising without knowledge and comprehension.

  • Counters Negative Attitude

Institutional advertising counters negative attitudes by potential consumers via the brand’s goodwill efforts.

Institutional Advertising Disadvantages

  • As institutional advertising does not promote any product or service, it sometimes may be conceived as an additional cost to the organization
  • Institutional advertising, because of its subtle nature, makes the target audience feel cheated
  • As institutional advertising is exceptionally efficient, it may sometimes lead to complete control over the market by one brand. This monopoly in the market is dangerous for the industry
  • There is no way to measure the impact of institutional advertising

Institutional Advertising Examples

  1. Lacoste: Timeless

Video by Lacoste

In the year 1933, tennis player René Lacoste and André Gillier founded the brand Lacoste. In ‘Timeless,’ its marketing campaign, Lacoste utilizes a time jump feature that takes the target audience on a visual journey, one that subtly hints at the fashion’s past. The campaign leverages emotion and storytelling and transcends numerous decades in a single train journey. This video looks to emphasize its customer’s attention to the brand’s vision, mission, and principles.

  1. ITC: Donations

ITC: Donation ITC, a company that sells cigarettes, donates one rupee to villages for each notebook that they sell. It partnered with an organization known as CRY (Child Relief and You) as part of its education campaign to further their interest in institutional advertising. Furthermore, every notebook carries environment-friendly messages.

Logo by ITC Limited as seen on the Website.

  1. Tesla: Patents

Tesla: Patents
In 2014, Elon Musk declared that he would be ‘open-sourcing’ Tesla’s electric car patents, which would, in turn, drive sustainability and lead to faster growth of the electric vehicle market. Here, Tesla is leveraging institutional marketing to increase brand awareness and potentially drive sales by showing its customers that it is a brand that genuinely cares about the environmental impact that non-electric vehicles have on the earth.

Logo by Tesla as seen on the Website.


Institutional advertising is great for big companies that look to shed some positivity on their business. This is specifically true in the case of brands that are involved in businesses that damage environmental or personal health. Brands that manufacture cigarettes or mine oil from the sea are a couple of examples that need to and do make use of institutional advertising to counter the public’s negative attitudes.