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The Right Kind of Business Advocacy, Business Horizons


Negative attitudes towards business are not the result of ignorance, as most business advocacy campaigns assume. Rather, declining confidence in business and support for increased regulation occur during economic bad times. Business advocacy campaigns must reflect this fact of American life. Business advocacy campaigns have joined product promotion and corporate image-building campaigns as means to influence public attitudes and actions. Although not yet a major marketing activity, business advocacy efforts are growing as companies strive to alter widespread, negative public attitudes toward business. Business advocacy campaigns start from the view that negative public attitudes toward business have undermined the favorable climate that American business enjoyed in past decades. The implication is that the economic health of business depends, at least in part, on winning the public over to business's side. Yet the value of business advocacy efforts is controversial. There is little information about how business advocacy works or, indeed, whether it works. Business advocacy can be broadly defined as an attempt to influence the public to be more favorable toward business. In practice, advocacy frequently means persuading the public to place less blame on business for such economic problems as unemployment, shortages, or rising prices. Business advocacy efforts are distinct from any activity directly intended to sell products or impress investors. Nor is business advocacy synonymous with lobbying, since the objective of business advocacy is to reach the public at large, not legislators. We focus here on the broad type of business advocacy aimed at changing public attitudes toward business in general and toward economic conditions and issues such as regulation, profit levels, taxes, and corporate responsibility.




Bobby Calder

Date Published



Calder, Bobby. 1985. The Right Kind of Business Advocacy. Business Horizons. 28(1): 7-11.


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