As 2020 began, many pundits predicted a politically charged year, but few predicted that it would include a global pandemic overtaxing healthcare resources, strained U.S. race relations resulting in mass demonstrations across the globe, devastating fires consuming massive swaths of the United States, and a global economic downturn. The special issue of the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing acknowledges the role that marketing does and can play in addressing political activities with articles that explore key topics like elections, voting, corporate political advocacy, and consumer political identities. Two commentaries from an industry veteran and an esteemed journal editor offer both applied and scholarly paths for future marketing strategies and research. While the articles were not intended to respond directly to the specific events, they still provide theories explaining firm, consumer, agency, and other stakeholder behaviors along with strategy implications.
Daniel Korschun, Kelly D. Martin, and Gautham Vadakkepatt
The global political system is undergoing profound transformations. Political spending is reaching unprecedented heights (particularly in the United States), and much of it is shifting to social media and other nontraditional forms. The way that citizens engage the political system is also changing. For example, in 2020, the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer sparked protests and large demonstrations in cities around the world; a reinvigorated Black Lives Matter movement sparked, among other initiatives, a loosely coordinated global campaign labeled #blackouttuesday, where individuals posted a black square on social media, with a pledge to not post about any topic that day other than racial equality and police brutality (Coscarelli 2020). And companies, which have traditionally confined themselves to neutral positions on political matters, have become increasingly outspoken, sometimes taking public stands for or against elected officials or government policies on the grounds that they have a responsibility to society at large (see Moorman  and Stanley ). These transformations have been as swift as they are dramatic. Read the full editorial
Inside the Special Issue Articles
Matthew D. Meng and Alexander Davidson
The authors explore a commonly used political strategy: showing how similar political candidates are to constituents and voters. The authors confirm this relationship but expand the understanding as it relates to a candidate’s competence along with particular audiences for whom the strategy is most effective.
Mark Peterson and Robert W. Godby
The results of this study suggest that the decisions offered by citizens in a research setting reflect citizens’ competence for informing elected representatives and policy makers regarding budgeting. When constituents can be brought into the process of ongoing governance in an effective and manageable fashion that does not require an expensive referendum or election, distortions of democracy will be reduced.
This research examines how the advocates of a cause respond to corporate approaches that integrate marketing and political activities for the cause. The findings reveal that such marketing activities resemble co-optation of the initial advocate of the cause and hijacking of the cause they advocate for.
Jessica Vredenburg, Sommer Kapitan, Amanda Spry, and Joya A. Kemper
The authors draw on theory to determine how and when a brand engaging with a sociopolitical cause can be viewed as authentic, finding that moderate, optimal incongruence between brand and cause acts as a boundary condition. They explore important policy and practice implications for current and aspiring brand activists, from specific brand-level standards in marketing efforts to third-party certifications and public sector partnerships.
The Activist Company: Examining a Company’s Pursuit of Societal Change Through Corporate Activism Using an Institutional Theoretical Lens
Meike Eilert and Abigail Nappier Cherup
Using institutional theory, the authors create a framework showing how corporate activism can address these societal problems through influence and change strategies that can target the institutional environment “top-down” or “bottom-up.” This framework further investigates how the company’s identity orientation facilitates corporate activism.
Political Ideology in Consumer Resistance: Analyzing Far-Right Opposition to Multicultural Marketing
Sofia Ulver and Christofer Laurell
The authors explore the discursive efforts in far-right consumer resistance to advance a political agenda through protests directed at brands’ multicultural advertising and analyze how these consumers conceptualize their adversaries in the marketplace. In contrast to previous framings of adversaries identified in consumer research, where resistance is typically anticapitalist and directed toward firms’ unethical conduct or the exploitation by the global market economy per se, the authors find that the following discursive themes stand out in the far-right consumer resistance: the emphasis on the state as main antagonist, the indifference to capitalism as a potential adversary, and overt contestation of liberal ethics.
This article demonstrates that although both liberals and conservatives engage in consumer political actions, they do so for different reasons influenced by their unique moral concerns: Liberals engage in boycotts and buycotts that are associated with the protection of harm and fairness moral values (individualizing moral values), whereas conservatives engage in boycotts and buycotts that are associated with the protection of authority, loyalty, and purity moral values (binding moral values). In addition, the individualizing moral values lead to a generally more positive attitude toward boycotts, which explains why liberals are more likely to boycott and buycott.
Drexel University Professor and special issue coeditor Daniel Korschun and his MKTG-368 class hold a virtual Oxford University–style debate on corporate responsibility around two pressing and controversial topics.
JPP&M Political Articles Through the Years
This sample—by no means exhaustive—of previously published JPP&M articles illustrates the journal’s political thrust over several decades.
How Liberals and Conservatives Respond to Equality-Based and Proportionality-Based Rewards in Charity Advertising
Younghwa Lee, Sukki Yoon, Young Woo Lee, Marla B. Royne
The authors conduct two studies that show how liberals and conservatives in the United States and Korea respond to charity advertising that features equality- or proportionality-based rewards for charitable giving. The findings robustly demonstrate that in both countries, liberals respond more favorably to equality-based rewards, but conservatives respond more favorably to proportionality-based rewards. Study 1, conducted in the United States, finds that liberals perceive greater effectiveness in equality-based rewards based on random drawings, but conservatives perceive more effectiveness in proportionality-based rewards based on donation amounts. Study 2, conducted in Korea, shows that liberal (conservative) donors expect to be more (less) likely to receive rewards based on equality rather than proportionality.
Kathryn A. Johnson, Richie L. Liu, Elizabeth A. Minton, Darrell E. Bartholomew, Mark Peterson, Adam B. Cohen, Jeremy Kees
This study proposes that certain religious and spiritual beliefs—specifically, representations of God—play an indirect but influential role in cognitive processing of (1) sustainability behaviors, (2) the importance of proenvironmental policies, and (3) their willingness to vote for proenvironmental policies. Across three studies, this research investigates the role of three representations of God: (1) God as an authoritarian personified being, (2) God as a benevolent personified being, and (3) God as a mystical cosmic force. The results of Study 1 suggest that attitude toward nature mediates the relationship between these representations of God and three sustainability behaviors. Similarly, the results of Study 2 suggest that attitude toward nature mediates the relationship between these representations of God and the importance of proenvironmental policies. In addition, the authors find self-transcendence to be an antecedent of belief in a mystical representation of God. Study 3 includes awe as an antecedent of self-transcendence and generally replicates the findings from Study 2 regarding the role of the representations of God in people’s cognitive processing of their willingness to vote for proenvironmental policies.
David W. Stewart
At the dawn of the 2016 U.S. presidential election season, then-Editor in Chief David Stewart notes a research gap in addressing policy solutions and identifying value delivery systems.
How can tax payment be made more satisfying? The author focuses on the low volition and collective nature of tax-funded benefits as primary causes of low satisfaction with tax payment. Three studies suggest that allowing people to allocate a small portion (in the present research, 10%) of their payment across budgets provided by the billing party both introduces an element of volition into the payment process and increases the perceived benefit associated with tax payment. As a result, the author concludes that taxpayers are significantly more satisfied with paying taxes when they allocate their payments, even if their payment amount remains completely unchanged. In addition to enhancing taxpayer satisfaction, an allocation program, if well implemented, could provide some hope for correcting existing lack of voice, address disconnects between spending and taxpayers’ priorities, and increase civic engagement in general.
Betsy D. Gelb, Darren Bush
The Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to promote candidates close to an election raises many relevant marketing questions: Will doing so antagonize customers? If a firm spends advertising dollars to influence elections rather than simply to promote goods and services, how can those dollars be spent effectively? Should a company advertise as part of a coalition? Will procandidate or antiopponent advertisements be the better choice, or are special events a wiser choice than any advertising? The authors explore these marketing questions, which have public policy implications, because proposed legislation to limit the effect of the Supreme Court decision is best evaluated according to understanding of corporate priorities. A key issue is transparency—that is, whether the audience for any promotion to support or oppose a candidate knows which corporations are the sponsors or whether their identity is hidden within a coalition.
Katherine E. Jocz, John A. Quelch
The authors propose a political theory perspective for examining the impact of the modern aggregate marketing system on consumer welfare and society. Specifically, they suggest that the benefits marketing delivers to consumers are similar to the conditions required for representative democracy. This perspective encompasses a broader range of benefits than is usually considered in the marketing literature and could provide a possible template for evaluating marketing actions. Viewing marketing as democratic is consistent with the historical evolution of marketing and with existing definitions of marketing. Linking marketing to political science begins to connect individual-level outcomes with societal outcomes. The approach also lends itself to policy discussions and further research on the relationships among the three primary actors in the marketing system: consumers, marketers, and government. It raises several questions about optimal marketing systems.
Alan R. Andreasen
A retrospective look at the arc of my career involvement in public policy issues reveals two major concerns. First, I have a central concern for the problems of a group I once labeled “disadvantaged consumers” (Andreasen 1975), but that has expanded beyond ghetto markets to encompass customers in need around the world. Second, I consistently have sought to bring concern for social issues into the mainstream of marketing thought and research. My involvement in these concerns has gone through three stages that reflect an ebb and flow of academic and popular interest. Today’s involvement in these issues reflects a maturation of the discipline as well as a continuing neglect of some of the important challenges that marked the earliest days of interest.
Congress Versus the Food and Drug Administration: How One Government Health Agency Harms the Public Health
Robert N. Mayer, Debra L. Scammon, Senator Orrin G. Hatch
Senator Orrin Hatch discusses his support for Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1993.
Bruce K. Pilling, Lawrence A. Crosby, Pam Scholder Ellen
The application of benefit segmentation to public policy formation is addressed by examining its use in understanding differences in voter behavior on a container law referendum. Using evaluations of the potential benefits, costs, and incentives of container laws—“bottle bills”—six clusters were identified which differed on both attitudinal and behavioral dimensions. The results indicate that benefit-based cluster solutions can provide important strategic implications for understanding and influencing voting behavior.
Marketing and the Religious Right: An Application of the Parallel Political Marketplace Conceptualization
This article uses the parallel-political marketplace conceptualization as a framework for describing the use of economic and political power by the religious right in attempting to constrain certain marketing practices. The historic relationship between religious beliefs and political action in the United States is considered, and the various constituencies, advocacy organizations and agenda of the religious right are identified. The role of the marketer as a political actor in the parallel-political marketplace is also explored.
The Continuing Debate on Political Advertising: Toward a Jeopardy Theory of Political Advertising as Regulated Speech
Clarke L. Caywood, Ivan L. Preston
The authors propose that political candidate advertising as a unique form of political speech is in jeopardy of losing its constitutional protection under the First Amendment. Despite the growth of political advertising as a political marketing technique and new legal freedoms for commercial advertising, the paper develops a “jeopardy theory” from seven socio-political variables which independently and cumulatively threaten political advertising’s protected status.
The Case for and Against Televised Political Advertising: Implications for Research and Public Policy
Gene R. Laczniak, Clarke L. Caywood
Presented here are the advantages and disadvantages of using the increasingly controversial tactic of televised political advertising. An agenda for needed research to shed light on this issue is put forward, along with an articulation of several public policy options for adjusting the existing process.
Michael R. Pearce
In recent years, managers have been confronted with an increasing number of public attacks on their marketing practices. This paper describes a managerial approach for anticipating and coping with such attacks. Further, some observations are offered about general trends affecting the public arena of marketing and the implications of these trends for marketing research, education, and practice.
Lawrence C. Soley, Leonard N. Reid
This article examines the relationship of party affiliation, incumbency, and promotional expenditures to votes received in U.S. congressional elections. Analysis of covariance revealed that promotional expenditures have a significant effect on votes received and that this effect is as great as the effects of party affiliation and incumbency.