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Marketplace Advocacy Campaigns: Generating Public Support for Business and Industry B ...

Chapter 1:  Introduction
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Marketplace Advocacy Campaigns:

A prominent television advertisement that was initially aired during the 2008 Beijing Olympics features a crane taking flight along a beautiful Chinese coastline. Other cranes wait patiently in line for take-off as sea turtles (i.e., “ground traffic”) cross the pristine beach. The narration prompts audiences to “Imagine a way to fly that not only helps save millions of gallons of fuel, but actually reduces emissions.” This ad was for General Electric Company (GE), a sponsor of the 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2102 Olympic Games.

Certainly GE has many products that athletes, tourists, and audiences watching at home use, and contributes everything from lighting systems to medical equipment to the Olympic Games. But, this ad was not designed to sell a GE product or service. In that sense, this ad differed from many, though not all, other corporate Olympic sponsorships.

This ad, a part of GE’s “Ecomagination” advertising campaign, falls into a genre of communication known as marketplace advocacy—a type of corporate issue advocacy, and the focus of this book. Generally speaking, issue advocacy is distinct from other forms of advertising and marketing communication in that it moves beyond the more traditional and straightforward goal of promoting a product or service. Rather, issue advocacy campaigns focus on an issue or topic, often of a controversial nature, that is associated with the company or industry (Cutler & Muehling, 1989; Miller, 2010; Miller & Sinclair, 2009a; Miller & Sinclair, 2009b; Nelson, 1994; Sinclair & Irani, 2005; Sinclair & Miller, 2010). Various forms of issue advocacy exist—including marketplace, political, and values advocacy (Arens, 2004)—and campaigns frequently combine aspects of all three. Whereas political issue advocacy may promote a political candidate or party, marketplace advocacy campaigns are designed to protect a company’s market by generating public support for the sponsoring corporation as well as for policies that are associated with a relevant industry (Arens, 2004; Bostdorff & Vibbert, 1994; Schumann, Hathcote, & West, 1991). Many marketplace advocacy campaigns, for example, have been designed to reduce public calls for government intervention in, or regulation of, corporate activities (Cutler & Muehling, 1989). Thus, the political