Marketing has long been considered an apology of politicians. However, new research suggests that politicians themselves are influenced by marketing. That’s right; marketing may have directly impacted legislation in Congress. Why? Because the amount of money being spent on marketing has directly determined the influence politicians have on policy.
Alcohol, food, and gambling, all traditionally popular outlets, are notoriously susceptible to influence and more particularly during this current era of financial instability. The Center for American Progress (CAP) found in a recent study that nearly 70 percent of all legislation in Congress has some sort of impact on the marketplace directly or indirectly through marketing. The study further stated that ” legislators use marketing as a mechanism to bypass regular committee meetings and engage constituents informal policy negotiations over issues that are of direct interest to constituents.” For example, during the last legislative session, alcohol-related bills were included nearly six times as many times as other legislation. The study further concluded that “lawmakers use digital media, social media, and official communications platforms to convey messages about fiscal restraint and economic opportunity that are often not salient to constituents.”
While these findings sound alarms for the public relations industry, it is still unclear whether or not legislators are affected by the marketing trends. However, one thing is clear: the trend is impacting both chambers of Congress, which means that any upcoming clash between lawmakers will likely play out in the digital marketing and digital news spaces. In fact, many members of Congress expressed worries that this ed-tech slowdown could cause members to stray from their districts and cut ties with their districts. Indeed, one of the goals of the 2021 Congressional elections was to ensure that members of both parties had a strong presence in their districts.
However, in many ways, the trends in this arena mirror the broader trends impacting the general public. Just as members of Congress are beginning to stray from their districts in terms of political engagement, both consumers and food manufacturers are doing the same. With the news that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are considering new food marketing guidelines that will regulate food packaging, it’s no surprise that food manufacturers and retailers are getting worried. If the new guidelines go into effect, they believe they could be on the receiving end of government regulation.
It’s important to remember that the purpose of these new food marketing regulations isn’t to protect consumers from bad behavior by food producers or retailers but to strengthen the federal government’s ability to police these industries. According to the FDA, the new regulations will make manufacturers prove that their marketing campaigns focus on improving quality and reducing health risks. The FDA has also floated the idea of instituting a full practice authority for physicians, something that could strengthen the nation’s largest physician association, the American Nurses Association. A full practice authority for nurses would give the nursing community greater control over their physician’s and doctors’ practices.
According to critics of marketing, the move by the FDA to institute a full practice authority for nurses opens the door for healthcare organizations to regulate themselves. In other words, the FDA may regulate where nurses get their training, but it may not regulate how they get that training. If there is a problem with the marketing strategy, the nursing organization will be able to review and, if necessary, modify or withdraw the marketing plan. This gives healthcare groups an opportunity to take back their marketing plan if it is deemed problematic. The full practice authority could also open the door to lawsuits by organizations that feel their marketing activities were improperly regulated. For example, if an employer discovered that a nurse was participating in an unsupervised work stoppage in order to get more time for personal activities, the employer might be liable for damages.
In a way, the FDA is attempting to regulate all aspects of food marketing: from the marketing materials that are produced to the advertising and marketing efforts that are made. While some in the medical profession disagree with the FDA’s attempts to strengthen its controls over the food industry, others see the FDA as a useful partner in food regulation. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the FDA can strengthen its ability to monitor and protect the public through its policies on nutrition. Meanwhile, according to the Food Marketing Institute, HB 1013 sets a good example for regulating the food industry.
It would be difficult for any food industry to function without marketing. Without advertising, food companies would not be able to attract the customers that they do. As it stands now, many companies depend on marketing to attract consumers. If HB 1013 becomes law, companies will need to come up with new ways to attract consumers. While this law does have an unintended consequence – increased costs for food manufacturers – food industry professionals believe that the unintended consequences would be a positive change for the industry.