Will Corporate Political Advertising Cannibalize Product Sales?

Even if I weren't a pretty hard core absolutist about the first amendment, I don't think I'd be particularly worried about yesterday's Citizens United ruling.  They're already doing a lot of this stuff anyway, just funnelling it through various front groups, and as far as I'm concerned, I'd rather have it done directly than through increasingly arcane loopholes. And anyway, I'm unconvinced that political advertising has this enormous power to broadcast secret mind-control rays into our homes. 

Besides all that, there's a fairly hard limit on how much political advertising corporations can do.  There's only so much space on the airwaves.  And frankly, I just can't bring myself to worry that now corporations will be able to send us more junk mail we won't read. 

What I think is interesting is that in the days before elections, corporations may effectively be competing with themselves.  Do they want to spend more money advocating deregulation, or do they want to spend more money advertising their new brand of fabric-softening salad dressing?  Good for media companies.  But bad for the rest of us?  Fewer and fewer people watch commercials.  And I can't say that I believe that either ads for policy positions, or ads for salad dressing/floor wax, are so mind-shatteringly effective that I'm much worried which kind we get.

Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

The Case for Napping at Work

Most Americans don't get enough sleep. More and more employers are trying to help address that.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Case for Napping at Work

Most Americans don't get enough sleep. More and more employers are trying to help address that.

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

Video

Playing An Actual Keyboard Cat

A music video transforms food, pets, and objects into extraordinary instruments.

Video

Stunning GoPro Footage of a Wildfire

In the field with America’s elite Native American firefighting crew

Video

The Man Who Built a Forest Larger Than Central Park

Since 1979, he has planted more than 1,300 acres of trees.

More in Business

Just In