April 23rd, 2012
Regulatory Ripples: Why Marketers Must Think and Act Locally
By Matthew Creamer
A ground zero for the anti-fast-food movement has been California’s affluent and health-conscious Santa Clara County, home to Silicon Valley. In 2007, the county followed New York and other cities in enacting a law that chain restaurants must post calorie counts for menu items.
A few years later, Santa Clara County’s government voted to forbid restaurants’ giving toys with high-calorie kids’ meals. The restriction affected only a dozen fast-food restaurants in unincorporated parts of the county, but that didn’t stop a possible “Happy Meal ban” from dominating headlines across the nation. Nor did it prevent a rash of copycat proposals in San Francisco, New York and Nebraska.
These are just two examples of the regulatory ripple effect, in which local and state legislative moves have repercussions well beyond their boundaries. The ripple effect is intensified by social media’s impact on political conversation as well as the state of the political landscape: With the federal government in a general state of partisan gridlock, it’s much easier for activist groups to get things done on a local level, where decision-making is simpler and industry lobbyists often hold less sway