Advocacy advertising is advertising that is used to promote a particular position on an issue. The advertising can target legislation, political subjects, and other issues which are deemed of interest to the public. This advertising can be funded by corporations and political organizations and it can be very big business. Sometimes very large amounts of money hang in the balance and thus companies are willing to spend significant amounts of money on their advocacy advertising.
An example of this type of advertising might be an advertisement promoting offshore oil drilling in the United States. Such ads might tout the availability of oil resources, the reduction of dependence on foreign oil, and other benefits, with the goal of getting members of the public to support offshore drilling. A company which might place such an ad would be an oil company which may be hoping to get drilling contracts or which wants to keep petroleum extraction in the public eye. By contrast, an ad opposing offshore drilling might be placed by an environmental group or by an alternative power company which wants to encourage people to consider options like wind or solar power.
The law about advocacy advertising is variable, depending on the nation where the ad is placed. In some countries, such advertising may need to be clearly marked as an ad, and the company, person, or entity which provided the funding must be disclosed. This is designed to alert people to the fact that such ads are not editorials or informational pieces, but are specifically advertisements.
Companies can place advocacy advertising on billboards, in print magazines and newspapers, online, and on television. The content of the advertisements can vary considerably, as can the point of view from which the issue is presented. Like other advertising, advocacy advertising is designed to capture the eye and to win hearts and minds; the goal is that after being exposed to an advocacy advertisement, people may take a position on an issue they felt neutral about, or may be persuaded to change positions.
On some occasions, individuals may be involved in advocacy advertising. Very wealthy individuals have been known, for example, to take out full page advertisements in the newspaper to use as a platform for advancing opinions. Sometimes individuals may also band together to place an advocacy advertisement. Around the world, ad companies which specialize in advocacy advertising help people develop the most effective ads possible for their given budgets.