DEFINITION of 'Advocacy Advertising'

Advocacy advertising is the use of marketing to support a particular message or cause. Unlike commercial advertising, advocacy advertising is considered to be undertaken in the interest of a group or the public, and typically does not promote a product or service. Funding for advocacy advertising can be through non-profit organizations, by corporations or private advocacy groups. Some governments require that organizations engaging in advocacy advertising clearly state how the funding is provided.

BREAKING DOWN 'Advocacy Advertising'

An example of advocacy advertising is funding for cancer research. An organization may run paid advertisements on television in order to raise money through donations, and state that donations will be used to pay for drugs and treatments to combat cancer. This type of advertising is prevalent during major political elections, as various corporations and interest groups campaign for or against candidates.

How Advocacy Advertising is Used

Advocacy advertising will often center on interrelated areas such as social matters, economic issues, and politics. For example, an organization that wants to introduce a drug treatment program to its community may launch a campaign seeking funding to support the establishment of a center to house their efforts. The campaign might extend into politics if a local candidate has voiced concerns about the program and the drug treatment organization chooses to back an opposing candidate.

Companies may engage in advocacy advertising if there is an issue or policy that stands to affect operations and public support is desired to resolve the matter. In some cases, a campaign is launched to influence the approval process for specific projects such as the construction of a new building that may affect surrounding neighborhoods or the development of a pipeline that may have environmental and social effects.

Advocacy ads may be launched to address matters that affect an industry or market. For instance, in some cities the introduction of sharing economy-style businesses such as Airbnb and Uber led to conflicts with local regulators and incumbent companies that felt threatened by the new arrivals. Citing regulatory laws, opponents to these companies sought to block them from operating in their territories, ostensibly unless they adhere to the same oversight and guidelines as the incumbents. In response, the upstart companies typically initiated advocacy advertising campaigns to attract public attention to the issues that were impeding their operations in their markets and encouraged regulators to grant them legal approval to do business.

While such efforts are not aimed at directly increasing the sales of the businesses, the campaigns are intended to bring about changes that would allow the companies to continue or introduce their business model in a new market. This, by extension, could affect their access to more customers could and as a result increase or stall earnings and sales growth.

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