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  1. Societal Spillovers of TV Advertising: Social Distancing During a Public Health Crisis Ghosh Dastidar, Sunder, and Shah (2022)
  2. Societal Expectations from Brands Ghosh Dastidar, Sunder, and Shah (2022) 81% of surveyed consumers consider brand trust to be a deciding factor in buying decisions (ETB* 2019) Post-pandemic, people trust firms (61%) more than governments (53%; ETB* 2021) 86% believe that CEOs must lead on societal issues while 68% want CEOs to step in where governments fail (ETB* 2021) Brand Advertising Meant to influence brand-related outcomes such as sales, awareness, loyalty, brand choice, etc. However, effects of brand advertising may “spillover” to influence outcomes that are not of primary interest for the focal brand (e.g., competitor’s demand) Could the effects of Television advertising from brands spillover to positively influence non-brand- related key societal outcomes? Additionally, there is a rising focus among brands to address issues of consumer and social welfare
  3. The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact Ghosh Dastidar, Sunder, and Shah (2022) As of August 2022, around 97 million cases of infections and 1 million deaths in the US Source: Social distancing was the primary response to stemming the spread of the disease in the initial stages of the pandemic Initial policy response to the pandemic was fraught with inconsistencies and wide variations in the implementation of safety guidelines Success of safety measures/mandates was mixed due to many factors (belief in science, politicization, fake news, etc.) affecting people’s willingness to comply Can TV advertisements that include COVID- 19 related narratives influence social distancing behavior? Can brands “fill the void” in the absence of government policy interventions?
  4. Ghosh Dastidar, Sunder, and Shah (2022) A Natural Experiment to Answer Our Questions Intensity of TV Advertising varies across Nielsen Designated Market Areas (DMAs; panel A in Figure 2) People living in adjacent counties on the border of neighboring DMAs (shaded in red and green in Figure 1) share similar characteristics on average On average social distancing behavior of people in DMA border counties should follow a similar pattern (panel B in Figure 2) Changes in social distancing can be attributable to differences in the treatment i.e., COVID-19 related TV Advertising Figure 1 Figure 2
  5. Ghosh Dastidar, Sunder, and Shah (2022) Overview of Results  Brand Advertising does affect Social Distancing behavior • Covid-19 related TV advertising have a significant positive effect on social distancing behavior • The effect is almost 11 times stronger in the absence of government policy interventions (e.g., masking, stay-at-home) • Effect varies across several factors such as product category, brand equity, and demographics  Government Advertising falls short • The overall effect of government ads on social distancing behavior is non-significant, however the effect is significantly negative in o presence of government policy interventions (likely due to annoyance) o more conservative areas (likely due to psychological reactance) • The effect is significantly positive in the absence of government policy interventions  The effect Brand advertising is stronger than that of Government advertising  The advertisements influence social distancing behavior by increasing the salience of the pandemic and it’s consequences in people’s minds
  6. Ghosh Dastidar, Sunder, and Shah (2022) Implications  Brands have tremendous opportunities to disseminate socially relevant messages embedded in the narratives of their TV ads to impact socially beneficial outcomes  Government agencies may need to rethink their communication strategies when dealing with major public health crises requiring the compliance of the public to critical safety guidelines. This may involve • collaborations with trusted public figures and/or social media influencers • offering incentives to brands in certain categories (with increased ad effectiveness) to incorporate relevant narratives in their ads  Major epidemics and pandemics are becoming increasingly likely. Brand managers and policymakers could use the findings from this study to devise more efficient, targeted, and timely communication strategies to deal with such future health crises  The findings are generalizable to other public health crises as well. Brand ads with relevant narratives may help increase the salience of the crises (e.g., climate crisis) and influence critical mitigative behaviors (recycling, switching to clean energy, etc.)