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When it Comes to Health, Advertising Helps
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Remember when our brethren noted that marketing and advertising have no positive effect on the lives of consumers?

In the words of Lee Corso, "not so fast, my friend."

Looks like the science community has our back to prove — yet again — that advertising can do good for those it serves.

A professor of the University of Georgia College of Public Health conducted research on the effect advertising had on consumer welfare. If the common man or woman on the street was asked that question, we would be led to believe that their perceptions would be more negative than positive. Yes, even our colleagues, of whom a majority believe our work adds no value to society, would believe that the impact on consumer welfare would be negative.

But that was not the case.

In fact, the multi-year study proved the opposite: there were levels of increased levels of consumer welfare for those exposed to direct-to-consumer advertising tactics versus situations without the advertising. The professor focused in on cholesterol-reducing medications. The study suggests that levels of welfare increased because the advertising caused the "under-diagnosed" to seek medication treatment. The article also suggests that this study adds to a compilation of studies that suggest the more companies are able to advertise, the more information a consumer receives, making them a more inquisitive and critical decision-maker. Not to mention, physicians must be targeted too, for they are the ones who would offer such remedies. 

It goes on that there could be a negative side to this: consumers could go to their physicians and receive medication or treatment that they do not need, or even the wrong kind. The professor brings out that advertising is meant to bring information to the table, and the physician and consumer have to have the responsibility to use that information correctly. Giving the benefit of the doubt to the knowledge of physicians, the professor noted that such negative effects, in the overall picture, are scarce.

Looks like advertising adds more value than you think.


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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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