Above-the-line activity in marketing refers to marketing practices making use of the mass media where, given a firm’s use of an advertising agency, the agency would make a commission on advertisements which are placed in media including television, newspapers, billboards, radio, magazines, and cinema, and where the commission charged by the advertising agency typically appears ‘above-the-line’ on the ad agency’s bill to the firm.
Thus, Marketing comprised of activity that, traditionally, entails commission charges by advertising agencies which, mainly, comprises mass media advertising is said to be Above the line marketing.
Above-the-line marketing activity can be contrasted with ‘below the- line’ marketing activity, which typically is that where an ad agency would charge a firm a fixed fee. (See below-the-line marketing.) Through the line marketing refers to a marketing approach that makes use of both above-the-line marketing and below-the-line marketing. Above-the-line marketing is generally associated with classic and traditional approaches to marketing where advertising is used to build a brand’s image. As such, to some marketers, the approach has been considered one of marketing’s ‘necessary evils,’ but, in some industries (e.g. tobacco), below-the-line marketing approaches have gained momentum, or even overtaken above the line marketing in importance, particularly as a result of increased regulatory scrutiny of mass media advertising.
In order to be in a position to evaluate the potential benefits and costs of above-the-line marketing approaches, marketers should seek to understand carefully their competitive and regulatory environments in addition to consumer buying behavior. While there may be clear benefits to above-the-line approaches including that of brand image building, belowthe line approaches may also be beneficial (as when there is considerable advertising clutter in the marketplace), either alone or in being selectively integrated with above-the-line marketing approaches.