Advertising techniques

What is the Difference Between Advertisement and Propaganda

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
What is the Difference Between Advertisement and Propaganda

Advertising and propaganda are two words that are commonly used interchangeably and synonymously, but the truth is that these are two very different activities. Advertising and propaganda objectives are different, so should not be confused. It is important to know what each term refers to in order to use them properly. OneHowTo explains what the difference between advertising and propaganda is so that you can use both terms confidently.


  1. Advertisement
  2. Propaganda
  3. Differences between advertising and propaganda


Advertisements publicise a product and services with the goal of attracting buyer or users. Advertisement is within the 4Ps of marketing and marketing mix, and its purpose is principally commercial.

Therefore, they include a number of activities or techniques that aim to raise awareness of the product or service and promote its use or sale:

  • Spots or TV ads
  • Radio advertising (spots, teleshopping, etc.)
  • Printed ads in newspapers
  • Advertising online
  • Outdoor advertising (billboards, bus shelters, public transport...)
  • Product placement. This is including branded products in TV shows, series, movies... You surely have seen Evian water bottles on TV series or Apple laptops on movies.
  • Advertising at the point of sale
  • Branding
  • Sampling or product samples
  • Guerrilla marketing activities, such as graffitis or distribution of leaflets.
What is the Difference Between Advertisement and Propaganda - Advertisement


Instead, propaganda encompasses actions that aim to attract followers or influence people's attitude, i.e., it is expected to convince the public to adopt a particular attitude or accede to a particular group or belief.

Propaganda is not linked to trade, but mainly to issues:

  • Political: campaign, recruit members and supporters, etc.
  • Ideological: NGOs, associations, military...
  • Religious: attracting followers to religions and sects

It should not be confused with institutional advertising, which are messages that the government of a country transmit to its citizens in order to promote behaviour or values or to inform about rights and obligations of society, etc. This type of advertising does not have a view of making a sale or securing a contract, nor does it seek endorsement; it's used solely for communication between government and citizens.

What is the Difference Between Advertisement and Propaganda - Propaganda

Differences between advertising and propaganda

Although the terms advertisement and propaganda are used interchangeably and synonymously in some countries, they do not carry the same meaning or connotation. There are marked differences between the two:

  • Advertisement aims to draw in the consumer with the hope of a sale or contract of goods or a service. Propaganda, on the other hand, strives for adherence to an ideology or a change of attitude.
  • The advertising is related to the commercial sphere, propaganda basically political, ideological and religious.
  • Advertisement is created for sales or contracts whilst the purpose of propaganda is not necessarily linked to a direct monetary exchange.

If you want to read similar articles to What is the Difference Between Advertisement and Propaganda, we recommend you visit our Economy & business category.

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What is the Difference Between Advertisement and Propaganda