Advocacy Advertising

What Is 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 nonprofit organizations, corporations, or private advocacy groups. Some governments require that organizations engaging in advocacy advertising clearly state how the funding is provided.

Key Takeaways

  • Advocacy advertising is a form of marketing used primarily by nonprofit organizations and private groups with the goal of swaying public opinion to support a particular cause or message.
  • It differs from commercial advertising because it does not promote a product or service.
  • It frequently focuses on economic, social, environmental, or political issues.
  • Companies sometimes use advocacy advertising if public perception or government policies negatively impact their ability to operate their business.

Understanding Advocacy Advertising

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.

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

Corporate Campaigns

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.

Real World Example of Advocacy Advertising

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 unless they adhere, ostensibly, 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 and, as a result, could impact earnings and sales growth.

Open a New Bank Account
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.