The Political Economy of Advertising

The Political Economy of Advertising

The Political Economy of Advertising

The Political Economy of Advertising

Excerpt

If politics makes strange bedfellows, then some bedfellows make equally strange politics. The idea of Madison Avenue collaborating with the media to sell some governmental program to the public offers an image that would seem to challenge even the most jaded imagination. Constitutional government is not supposed to "sell" itself to the people by, for, and of whom it presumably exists; rather, it is supposed to carry out programs — including programs to regulate selling — that are revealed by the political process to be in the public interest. It is supposed to regulate advertising, not advertise regulation.

Yet, as the writings that follow will show, advertising does enter importantly into the political process, including the administration of federal regulatory programs. The promotional efforts of some political and politically motivated institutions (notably the political parties and the rate-regulated public utilities) have themselves become subject to increasing regulation and public scrutiny.

The Political Economy of Advertising

It is the relationship between advertising and politics, broadly defined, on which this volume is centered. "The political economy of advertising" concerns public advertising by governments and political parties, governmentally mandated corrective advertising, and private advertising aimed at exploiting government incentives or at warding off additional governmental regulation. It concerns political motives that may enter into the private media's dissemination of public service messages and the bearing of those motives on the cost-effectiveness of paid government advertising.

The uneasiness with which politically motivated advertising has come to be viewed is exemplified by Watergate-inspired hostility to-

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