Study of the Day: Do Ads That Air During Political Debates Work?

More

The winner of tonight's debate is still unknown, but new research names one possible loser -- those advertising on TV during the show

main Mario Anzuoni - Reuters RTR2QXUA.jpg

PROBLEM: Advertisers buy spots during broadcasts of political debates to reach large, lucrative audiences of engaged, influential consumers. But is this tactic always effective?

METHODOLOGY: Across four experiments, researchers led by University of Toronto's Alison Jing Xu observed over 500 participants who were either in an agreeable or argumentative mood while they watched a slew of political debates and advertisements.

RESULTS: Consumers in a 'bolstering' mindset or who generated thoughts about positions they already agreed with were more likely to be persuaded by an ad than their less open counterparts. Those who were in the argumentative or 'counterarguing' disposition also voiced out more negative thoughts toward the spot.

CONCLUSION: Political debates can decrease the effectiveness of ads, particularly when the candidates' messages contradict those of the viewers. Though developing an agreeable attitude can improve participants' evaluations of the brands promoted in commercials, prompting an argumentative mindset can have the opposite effect.

IMPLICATION: Context matters. For marketers targeting Democrats, for instance, it may be best to skip tonight's debate.

SOURCE: The full study, "The Role of Bolstering and Counterarguing Mindsets in Persuasion," is published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Image: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Is the Greatest Story Ever Told?

A panel of storytellers share their favorite tales, from the Bible to Charlotte's Web.


Elsewhere on the web

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 Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In