Definition of promotional advertising

What is promotional advertising?

Promotional advertising is the use of marketing to support a particular message or cause. Unlike commercial advertising, promotional advertising is considered to be in the interest of a group or the public and generally does not promote a product or service. Funding for advocacy advertising can be through non-profit organizations, corporations, or private advocacy groups. Some governments require that organizations engaged in promotional advertising clearly indicate how funds are provided.

Key takeaways

  • Promotional advertising is a form of marketing used primarily by non-profit organizations and private groups with the aim of influencing public opinion to support a particular cause or message.
  • It differs from commercial advertising because it does not promote a product or service.
  • It often focuses on economic, social, environmental or political issues.
  • Companies sometimes use promotional advertising if public perception or government policies negatively affect their ability to operate their business.

Understanding promotional advertising

Promotional advertising will often focus on interrelated areas such as social, economic and political issues. For example, an organization that wants to introduce a drug treatment program in its community may launch a fundraising campaign to support the establishment of a center to house its efforts. The campaign could be extended into politics if a local candidate has raised concerns about the program and the drug treatment organization chooses to back an opposing candidate.

Another example of promotional advertising is cancer research funding. An organization can run paid advertisements on television to raise money through donations, stating that donations will be used to pay for cancer drugs and treatments. Promotional advertising is also prevalent during major political elections, as various corporations and interest groups campaign for or against the candidates.

Corporate campaigns

Businesses can participate in promotional publicity if there is a problem or policy that may affect operations and public support is desired to resolve the matter. In some cases, a campaign is launched to influence the approval process for specific projects, such as the construction of a new building that may affect the surrounding neighborhoods or the development of an oil pipeline that may have environmental and social effects.

Promotional advertising example in the real world

Promotional announcements can be launched to address issues affecting an industry or market. For example, in some cities, the introduction of shared economy businesses like Airbnb and Uber generated conflicts with local regulators and established companies that felt threatened by newcomers.

Citing regulatory laws, opponents of these companies sought to prevent them from operating in their territories unless they apparently adhere to the same oversight and guidelines as the incumbents. In response, upstart companies used to launch promotional advertising campaigns to draw public attention to issues that were hampering their operations in their markets and encouraged regulators to grant them legal approval to do business.

While these efforts are not aimed at directly increasing business sales, the campaigns are intended to generate changes that allow companies to continue or introduce their business model in a new market. This, by extension, could affect your access to more customers and, as a result, could affect profit and sales growth.

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Mark Holland

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