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Media Advertising and Ballot Initiatives: An Experimental Analysis

  • Allender, William J.
  • Richards, Timothy J.
  • Fang, Di
  • Doyon, Maurice
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    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 (2006).

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    Paper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2011 Annual Meeting, July 24-26, 2011, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with number 104224.

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    Date of creation: 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea11:104224
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    1. Shogren, Jason F. & Margolis, Michael & Koo, Cannon & List, John A., 2001. "A random nth-price auction," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 409-421, December.
    2. David P. Myatt & Justin P. Johnson, 2004. "On the Simple Economics of Advertising, Marketing, and Product Design," Economics Series Working Papers 185, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    3. Thaler, Richard, 1980. "Toward a positive theory of consumer choice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 39-60, March.
    4. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    5. Lusk, Jayson L. & Daniel, M. Scott & Mark, Darrell R. & Lusk, Christine L., 2001. "Alternative Calibration And Auction Institutions For Predicting Consumer Willingess To Pay For Nongenetically Modified Corn Chips," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 26(01), July.
    6. Hartl, Jochen & Herrmann, Roland, 2008. "Do They Always Say No? German Consumers and Second-Generation GMO Foods," 2008 International Congress, August 26-29, 2008, Ghent, Belgium 44164, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    7. Fox, John A & Hayes, Dermot J & Shogren, Jason F, 2002. " Consumer Preferences for Food Irradiation: How Favorable and Unfavorable Descriptions Affect Preferences for Irradiated Pork in Experimental Auctions," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 75-95, January.
    8. Lusk, Jayson L. & Roosen, Jutta & Fox, John A., 2001. "Demand For Beef From Cattle Administered Growth Hormones Or Fed Genetically Modified Corn: A Comparison Of Consumers In France, Germany, The United Kingdom, And The United States," 2001 Annual meeting, August 5-8, Chicago, IL 20684, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    9. John List & Craig Gallet, 2001. "What Experimental Protocol Influence Disparities Between Actual and Hypothetical Stated Values?," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 20(3), pages 241-254, November.
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