In many countries there is emerging concern regarding alliances between the pharmaceutical industry and health non‐profit organizations (NPOs), and the increase of co‐sponsored marketing activities such as disease awareness advertising. The current study aims to explore Australian women's perceptions of disease awareness advertising with differing sponsors, to determine whether their attitudes towards the sponsor and their reported behavioural intentions differ as a function of the perceived sponsor or co‐sponsor.
Older women (aged 50+) were approached by mall‐intercept method in a metropolitan area in New South Wales, Australia. Consenting participants were randomly assigned an advertisement with an NPO sponsor, pharmaceutical company sponsor, or a combination of the two (co‐sponsored). Each participant viewed advertisements for two health conditions (fibromyalgia and osteopenia) with the same sponsor manipulation, and completed a one‐page questionnaire after reading each advertisement.
Participants had significantly more positive attitudes towards the NPO‐sponsored advertisement than the pharmaceutical company‐sponsored advertisement or the co‐sponsored advertisement. Participants with more positive attitudes towards the sponsor were significantly more likely to report an intention to take action, such as to look for more information or to talk to their doctor.
The results suggest that an NPO‐sponsored advertisement promoting awareness about a disease or health condition is more effective without the co‐sponsorship of a pharmaceutical company.
This is the only identified research into attitudes towards sponsors of disease awareness advertising that considers pharmaceutical companies and health NPOs and is important, given the increasing trend of disease advertising and cause‐related marketing in Australia and internationally.
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