Media advertising and ballot initiatives: The case of animal welfare regulation

Timothy Richards, William Allender, Di Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Spending on political advertising increases with every election cycle, not only for congressional or presidential candidates, but also for state-level ballot initiatives. There is little research in marketing, however, on the effectiveness of political advertising at this level. In this study, we conduct an experimental analysis of advertisements used during the 2008 campaign to mandate new animal welfare standards in California (Proposition 2). Using subjects' willingness-to-pay for cage-free eggs as a proxy for their likely voting behavior, we investigate whether advertising provides real information to likely voters, and thus sharpens their existing attitudes toward the issue, or whether advertising can indeed change preferences. We find that advertising in support of Proposition 2 was more effective in raising subjects' willingness-to-pay for cage-free eggs than ads in opposition were in reducing it, but we also find that ads in support of the measure reduce the dispersion of preferences and thus polarize attitudes toward the initiative. More generally, political ads are found to contain considerably more "hype" than "real information" in the sense of Johnson and Myatt [Johnson, J. P., and D. P. Myatt. "On the Simple Economics of Advertising, Marketing and Product Design." American Economic Review, 96, 2006, 756-84].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-162
Number of pages18
JournalContemporary Economic Policy
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Public Administration

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