War Doesn't Seem To Affect Consumers

A new study conducted by a television industry organization finds that American consumers not only expect but encourage advertisers to remain on course during war or the threat of terrorism.

In a sign that Americans have at least learned to live in a turbulent world, only 18% of the 413 people surveyed nationwide by Frank N. Magid Associates said they weren't accustomed to the changes the U.S. has seen since 9/11. Online research director Michael Antecol said Americans have become more resilient since the terrorist attacks and have also remained interested in what's going on in the world. Sixty-two percent said they were "very interested" in the war in Iraq and 73% said they were watching TV as their primary means of catching up on the news.

"There's no wear-out in terms of the desire for war coverage," said Antecol.

A majority - 79% - don't see a problem with ads during TV news programs that have significant war coverage and won't penalize a company that does so. Only 6% would avoid companies that advertise. The study was commissioned by the New York-based Television Bureau of Advertising.



Sixty-six percent of people surveyed believed advertising was necessary to keep the economy moving, war or not, and 70% felt that ads are a normal part of television, even during wartime, and they expected to see them. Those disagreeing were 21% and 24%, respectively. Majorities also felt that companies sponsoring news programs were performing a public service and that it was appropriate to advertise during the current war.

As for the ads that run, 63% said they looked favorably upon ads that showed support for the armed forces or a patriotic theme but an almost equal number said advertisers should steer clear of politics during wartime. Antecol said a good yardstick was the 18-month recall rates of the "Keep America Rolling" campaign, which was started by General Motors shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Forty-three percent of those surveyed recalled the campaign and of those, 88% had a positive reaction to it.

In a side part of the study, Antecol said that the war has caused almost no delay in consumer spending behavior, with 89% saying that the war hadn't caused them to cancel or delay planned purchases. He pointed to evidence of pent-up consumer demand as the war winds down, with 48% of people more likely to schedule a vacation afterward and about 30% ready to buy furniture, computers or a major appliance.

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