In U.S. v. Philip Morris USA Inc. (2006), a United States federal court ordered the use of corrective statements in advertising and promotion to augment consumer knowledge and beliefs about smoking by targeting potential misperceptions related to the past marketing and promotion practices of tobacco companies. According to the court’s judgment, tobacco companies will be required to make corrective statements regarding (1) the adverse health effects of smoking; (2) the addictiveness of smoking; (3) the lack of health benefits from smoking “low-tar,” “light,” “ultra-light,” “mild,” and “natural” cigarettes; (4) defendants’ manipulation of cigarette design; and (5) the adverse health effects of secondhand smoke.
The authors conduct a pilot study to develop and test multi-item measures for each of the belief themes identified in the court case, along with the belief about tobacco company deceptiveness. The main study uses an ad copy test experiment to examine (1) the effects of different versions of corrective ad statements that were submitted to the court by plaintiff intervenors on belief measures and (2) the impact of the ad versions and beliefs on general attitudes toward smoking across adult smokers and nonsmokers. The corrective advertisements tested include a copy-only control condition, a copy-with-graphic-visual condition, and a version with a potentially distracting visual.
The findings indicate effects of the corrective advertisements for the light/low-tar, company-deceptiveness, cigarette-manipulation, and health-effects beliefs. Thus, the results indicate that the corrective ad statements can have a positive effect on antismoking beliefs of focal interest in the case, and some beliefs are affected more strongly by the test advertisements than are others. Although the target beliefs differed and were more negative for smokers in general, there were greater substantial differences between smokers and nonsmokers for some of the target beliefs (e.g., secondhand smoke, deceptiveness) than others (e.g., addictiveness). In addition, the results show direct effects of the corrective ad exposure and the target beliefs on attitude toward smoking. Specifically, the results suggest that the ad exposure has a somewhat greater effect on reducing attitude toward smoking for smokers than for nonsmokers. For the nonsmokers, the weakest antismoking belief theme detected in the control condition involved the health benefits of light/low-tar cigarettes.
Importantly, the results indicate that the light/low-tar cigarette belief theme can be strengthened through corrective statements. Thus, although there can be limitations to any corrective campaign, the most effective approach may be to weight any campaign toward the weaker beliefs (e.g., light/low tar), in which the opportunity to “correct” consumer misperceptions appears to be the most substantial. For example, given that the Intervenors recommend that corrective statements in television advertisements should focus on singular belief themes, specific advertisements and beliefs might be targeted to audiences for whom effects will be of the greatest potential impact. This overall pattern of findings suggests the importance of using antismoking efforts in general to influence beliefs about smoking and smokers’ attitudes.
Andrea Heintz Tangari is Assistant Professor of Marketing at Wayne State University. Her research interests include message framing, labeling, temporal orientation, and advertising/promotions effectiveness. Her recent public policy–related research investigates antismoking messages, consumer processing of nutrition information, and the promotion of sustainable consumer behavior. Her research has been published in various journals, including Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Retailing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and Journal of Consumer Affairs, among others.
Jeremy Kees is Assistant Professor of Marketing at Villanova University. His research interests include intertemporal choice, consumer risk, and advertising/promotions effectiveness. His recent public policy–related research examines cigarette warning labels, consumer processing of nutrition information, food supplement claims, and direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising. His research has been published in various journals, including Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Interactive Marketing, Psychology & Marketing, Journal of Consumer Affairs, and Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, among others.
J. Craig Andrews is a professor and Charles H. Kellstadt Chair in Marketing at Marquette University. His research interests focus primarily on advertising and public health issues. Andrews currently serves on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Risk Communication Advisory Committee, has served on the Behavior Change Expert Panel for the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, was editor of Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, and was a consumer research specialist in the Division of Advertising Practices with the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, DC. Professor Andrews’ work has appeared in Journal of Marketing, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Retailing, and American Journal of Public Health, among others.
Scot Burton is a professor and Wal-Mart Chair in Marketing in the Department of Marketing and Logistics, Sam M. Walton College of Business, at the University of Arkansas. His research interests include public policy and consumer welfare concerns, pricing and promotion issues, and survey research measurement issues. In addition to Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, his research has been published in Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Applied Psychology, American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Retailing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Public Opinion Quarterly, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, among other journals.
Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Volume 29, Number 2, Fall 2010
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