Sticks and Stones, When Words Do Hurt: The Impact of Responses, Involvement, and Partisan Identity on Brand Image in the Case of Negative Political Advertising



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Political advertising is an important tool used by campaigns to persuade voters to choose their candidate at the polls. Despite mixed results regarding its effectiveness, negative political advertising is the prominent choice of many campaigns and is on the rise. Given the prevalence and potential damage of negative advertising, it is crucial that we understand how certain types of advertising, especially negative and response advertising, affect voters’ perceptions of a candidate’s brand image. With a factorial experiment design, this study examined how candidates should respond when they become the target of negative political advertising by examining what type of response advertising is most effective at mitigating the damage done by negative advertising, as well as the impact that a voter’s political involvement and partisan identity has on this relationship. Results suggest that a civil response advertisement is more effective than an uncivil response. Furthermore, while involvement did not moderate the relationship between the different types of advertising and brand image, this study finds that partisan identity does. This study adds to the research by examining voting behavior through a consumer behavior lens, borrowing marketing concepts such as involvement. Practical implications include understanding how candidates can improve their brand image in the face of negative advertising in a way that will assist campaigns in choosing the most effective advertising strategy.



negative political advertising, political involvement, voter involvement, response advertising, partisan identity, political brand image