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NY Fracking Debate Goes to Ads
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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In New York state, the administration is about to finish its stance on "fracking" in parts of its Southern Tier, just north of the Pennsylvania border. As many of you are aware, fracking is the process of pushing water, sand, and other minerals deep into the ground in order to release and collect natural gas. With the area called Marcellus Shale that covers large parts of Pennsylvania and New York, companies have been falling over themselves in order to get a piece of the action.

The environmental effects of fracking are not clear-cut. The public is torn about it, and the state administration is being pulled by opposite sides of the debate.

So the parties turn to advertising.

It's interesting to see how organizations use advertising to frame a debate. The article points out that one organization, Food and Water Watch, is using TV to push its ad and message to the people. The group is calling on the public to tell the governor not to allow fracking.

The other two groups, Rebuild NY Now and Clean Growth Now, are using print and radio in the areas affected to get their messages across.

We found the television ad for Food and Water Watch:

Advertising is an important channel of communication when it comes to politics and policies that affect our communities. Why? With our busy lives, people simply don't have the time to sit down and research issues and stances on their own. The "informed consumer/citizen" is out there, no doubt, but the busy mom or dad or the bustling manager may have priorities that supercede their analytic duties. Advertising is a convenient way for people to get information and process what they need to know.

Are we saying that advertising should be the sole way to get information? Absolutely not. Advertising serves as an outline; it brings out the key points and should force those who want to be informed to do their due diligence before they make a decision. It's just like purchasing a good or service; advertising is a means to influence you to look into something more. It is not meant to "force" a decision upon you, as some people would like to contend.

But we digress.

It's about time the debate turned to advertising, and it will be interesting to see how the public responds. It is their community, so hopefully the advertising will move them to learn more and make an informed decision.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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