Authors: Dr. Kavita Sharma
Advertising has immense potential as a promotion tool and is applied in contexts other than business also. In political context, though the use of advertising is not new to any democratic process, yet over the years as compared to other campaigning tools a large share of campaign expenditure is allocated for this purpose and that too across various political parties. The reason for this change primarily relates to using advertising potentials for building mass awareness and recall and to convert these into voter’s preference, to build image, and the voter base.
But, in India where elections are contested more on the basis of caste, creed, religion and regional issues, the attempt to make the people informed and knowledgeable, and to have their favourable action tendencies through the intense use of advertising is certainly a matter which makes us inquisitive about the role of political advertising in Indian context. This becomes more a reason of worry when the size of advertising expenditure is very large and even in some cases larger than the annual budget of some big FMCG companies. Various political parties have now started hiring creative and media specialists to bring more creativity to the old simple classified type of political ads. There is a definite change in the mind sets redefining the role of advertising in Indian political scenario.
In the backdrop of this change, the present paper is an attempt to explore the relevance of using political advertising, and particularly in Indian context. The study investigates the perceptions about the role of political advertising in affecting voting behaviour in regard to information search and evaluation, attitude towards voting, and making of voting choice. It is further hypothesized that the perceptions about the role of political advertising are mediated by the level of one’s involvement with voting decision. The study finds very limited support to establish the relevance of using political advertising at the scale it is presently used by various political parties in India.
Keywords: relevance; perceptions; voting decision involvement; cognitive, affective and conative behaviour; issue awareness; laboratory experiments; field survey, advertising expenditure