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Sock It to 'Em

Can a negative marketing campaign have positive results? Here's what to know before you strike the first blow.

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By Kim T. Gordon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Mudslinging, name-calling, accusations and counterattacks.Sounds like a bad way to run a marketing campaign-particularlyduring a presidential race-but all those negative ads may have amore positive result than you think. What many of us call"negative" or "attack" ads are termed"comparative" ads by those in the industry, and thebottom line is that they appear to work.

"They're very effective," says Rick Farmer, Ph.D.,an assistant professor of political science at the University ofAkron in Akron, Ohio, who has studied the impact of comparativeads. Farmer, other researchers and campaign consultants agree thatnegative ads are more memorable than positive ones, provided theyreinforce a belief and remain relevant to the central issues of themarketing campaign. In political campaigns, comparative ads workbecause "people have a cynical view of politics and tend tobelieve the negative very quickly," says Farmer.

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