Again, it is again confirmed that advertising has more of a descriptive than prescriptive effect: that is, it informs the public that there is something they can buy, but it does not easily persuade the public to buy or use it. We are not only talking about marketable products, but also about ideas, attitudes, customs.
The confirmation comes from a field experiment on the effects of television commercials on audience opinion, which appears to have minimal impact on public opinion or, at best, the impact fades in just one day.
Changing ideas is a difficult task
In the study, 31,404 voters were subjected to three weeks of interest group announcements on immigration or transgender nondiscrimination. Voters were then randomly assigned to receive seemingly unrelated polls, either while the ads were running, one day after they ceased, or three days later.
Voters remembered the ads, but three ads had minimal influence on public opinion, while the effects of a quarter waned in one day. But nevertheless, voters recalled a fact from an advertisement.
The results suggest that advertisements can affect public opinion, but that not all advertisements persuade and that the persuasive effects wane. Despite the enormous sums spent on television commercials, then, the results are the first field experiment in its persuasive power in matters of opinion, shedding light on the mechanisms that sustain and limit both televised persuasion and the influence of television commercials. interest groups.
We always tend to think that fashions are created in offices and laboratories. That social engineering has immense power. That there are people who pull the strings. That we dress like this or like that because they have manipulated us. That movies or series change the way people are and therefore can evangelize and even shape the world at the whim of the author. But things are much, much more intricate than it seems, as you can attest in the following video: