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Marketing and politics: Models, behavior, and policy implications

Session at the 8th Triennial Choice Symposium

Abstract

The American presidential election is one of the largest, most expensive, and most comprehensive marketing efforts. Despite this fact, marketing scholars have largely ignored this campaign, as well as thousands of others for congresspersons, senators, and governors. This article describes the growth of interest in research issues related to political marketing. This emerging research area lies at the crossroads of marketing and political science, but these fields have developed largely independent of one another with little cross-fertilization of ideas. We discuss recent theoretical, empirical, and behavioral work on political campaigns, integrating perspectives from marketing and political science. Our focus is on (1) the extent to which paradigms used in goods and services marketing carry over to the institutional setting of political campaigns, (2) what changes are necessary in models and methodology to understand issues in political marketing and voter behavior, and (3) how the special setting of politics may help us gain a better understanding of certain topics central to marketing such as advertising, branding, and social networks.

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Notes

  1. In practice, candidates' choice of positions may be constrained by their past actions and by the party to which they belong (Alesina 1988). “Political baggage” of this sort is carried forth from one election to the next and can only be changed over the long term, if at all.

  2. Negative advertisements are an extreme version of comparative advertising in which a candidate devotes virtually the entire advertisement to highlighting the negatives of the other candidate (real or imagined).

  3. Much of the recent research relies on secondary data. One key source of data is the Wisconsin Advertising Project (WAP), which provides information on the exact television advertisements shown for presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial candidates in the 100 largest US media markets and includes a rich set of descriptive variables for each advertisement. A second valuable source is the longitudinal panel surveys on political attitudes and knowledge found in the National Annenberg Election Survey and the American National Election Studies, both of which can be linked to the WAP data.

  4. See Green and Gerber (2003) for a review of work on using field experiments in political science and Gerber and Green (2000) for a field experiment involving canvassing, telephone calls, and direct mailers.

  5. An example of a loss averse argument in a political context would be, “My opponent's policy will cost jobs.” See Cobb and Kuklinski (1997) for a discussion of loss aversion in the context of political arguments.

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Correspondence to Mitchell J. Lovett.

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Gordon, B.R., Lovett, M.J., Shachar, R. et al. Marketing and politics: Models, behavior, and policy implications. Mark Lett 23, 391–403 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11002-012-9185-2

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Keywords

  • Political marketing
  • Elections
  • Campaigns
  • Advertising