Advertising ethics

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This paper addresses the topic of advertising ethics. I do not expect to provide a comprehensive study, but relevant points pertaining to the practice of advertising affect. First, we give a definition of ethics and its key concepts, and then look at three different levels of ethical criticism in. Then look at the specific ethical issues relating to advertising, as well as the ethical principles and moral standards that govern members advertising business. In the last section, we concerning the management of advertising and prove that the ethics of advertising - this is not a combination of mutually exclusive concepts, and sound business practices.

The ethics of advertising can be defined as all positive or correct in the implementation of an advertising feature. Called ethical activities related not only to law but also moral principles. While the ethical side is hidden in almost all the advertising decisions on this subject says, few educational materials about the advertising. And in those few materials, which are still passing mention of ethics, analysis of the topic is usually limited to the laws governing advertising, or ethical standards that govern advertising practices.

The basis of ethical decisions is based on a number of concepts. First - this obligation. Both individuals and companies form a complex knot of relationships. Since the last bound responsibility, obligations and responsibilities. For example, the advertising industry has the obligation to serve the society in which it operates. Employees of the advertising industry have multiple responsibilities: to adhere to the requirements of the legislation, to help your company make a profit, serve customers well, in good faith to dispense with the suppliers; obligations in front of his employer, the people for whom advertising is, society as a whole and each other. When these various obligations conflict with each other when you need to serve more than one interested party, and when personal property includes rights in conflict with the needs of the company where he works, there are ethical dilemmas.

The second concept, which is so central to the process of ethical decision - is accountability. People are taking decisions about advertising, are accountable to various stakeholders, both internal (in the same company) and external (representing the public). When you create, design and implementation of advertising projects should take into account the interests and views of all interested parties.

Intention represents the latest key concept. To act considered being ethical, the intention of the decision maker must not include harm to the parties who are affected by this decision. True, some critics of advertising claim that the intention of speaking inadequate criterion for decisions on advertising.

Marketing is the one of the most important aspect from all business functions, a powerful tool that plays a critical role in achieving corporate goals. But at the same time the most vulnerable to criticism. The most common frustration of critics is violations of ethical behavior. The subject of dissatisfaction is seen with a rather different point of view that gave rise to considerable confusion. In the study of the ethical criticism of advertising is useful to understand that the latest estimate at three different levels: at the macro level, or social, at the level of the advertising industry as a whole, at the micro level individual or a single advertising campaign.

As a counter-advertising advocates led its economic necessity. Advertising serves an important activity in a competitive market, as helping to inform the public about the properties and characteristics of many products on the market, so consumers can make a sensible choice. Do not deny that the advertising - it is a significant force shaping attitudes and preferences of people (if advertising did not believe in it, they would not resort to its aid). However, because of its influence advertising can be used.

Another ethical criticism is in the advertising industry. It is believed that advertising performs three main functions: to inform, persuade and recalls. It is the second feature - the conviction - aimed mostly critical arrows. Michael J. Phillips, author of "Ethics and manipulation in advertising," argues that manipulates consumer ads make up more than half of total advertising. To understand why Philips makes a provocative statement, you need to get an idea of how it classifies advertising practices. Phillips, clearly shared the information and manipulate consumer advertisements. The essence of the first author of the book considers a rational belief, when a man offered a reasonable argument. The second - all persuasive advertising, especially the association and acting on the subconscious, which "violated the process of rational evaluation of the goods so as to create the illusion that this product will satisfy the conscious or unconscious consumer desires, although in reality such satisfaction may not be.

On the other hand, defenders of the rights of advertisements on the belief point to the fact that rival firms through advertisements seek to identify at a general background, and that this, in fact, raises the awareness of consumers, and thus widens the range of choices.

Another line of criticism at this level is not strictly focused on the advertising industry, but on those industries in which the advertisers. Some people believe that certain goods and services can bring harm to those who buy, use or consume, and therefore, any advertising of such products should be prohibited. By the well-known examples include alcoholic drinks and tobacco products.

Truth and lies in advertising

One of the fundamental principles of a free market society is that consumers make free and informed choice. That is, consumers, voters their money, determine the behavior of companies. And advertising - this is a business function, which implements the principle in life. Consumers, by definition, will not be able to make informed choices without information, get it as they can from advertising. It is therefore not surprising that the truth in advertising is seen as one of the central ethical principles of doing business. In other words in the advertisement must conform to reality.

Although few people who dared to challenge this logic, is sometimes still have problems with the way advertising is created and executed. Often it is the limits allowed in the use of such common approaches to advertising as "inflation" (exaggerating the merits of the advertised goods or services), metaphor and hyperbole. Consider for example the following promotional slogan: "Restaurant" The Mario "in the East Side - the best Italian restaurant in the world." Strictly speaking, it is unlikely that this allegation is untrue, but the advertisers hope that the deal with the audience, experienced in advertising such an informed, sober audience makes allowance for the usual exaggeration in advertising. This means that advertising can, without violating the ethical requirements of symbols, illustrations, comparisons and metaphors to enhance their applications (like the more important types of communication, such as fiction).

Ethical issues technique of advertising

Technique of advertising, too, may give rise to various ethical problems. For example, many consumers are afraid that some types of advertising exist on the subconscious. As such, by definition, hear the message to the consumer, bypassing the conscious and sensory perception; they are often not only unethical but also illegal, because they can manipulate the consumer's freedom of choice. Although studies have shown the ineffectiveness of subliminal effects (eg, the notorious 25-second frame), the public still suspects the Advertiser of use of such technology.

Ethical issues arise in the case of the involvement of celebrities in advertising. Famous stars of sport and cinema can significantly affect the decision-making process of buying, so have been made specific recommendations for the creation of such advertising to make it more ethical. Character advertise itself should be user-advertised product, but his statements must fairly reflect his personal opinion. All applications must have the actual character confirmation. Concerns about advertising, with the participation of celebrities are so high that in some countries such as Canada, it is prohibited for certain product categories, such as alcoholic beverages and certain children's products.

Visual of the advertisement "receives" criticism is not less than the text. Since consumers typically pay more attention to exactly the image than the accompanying text In particular, the claims are made to ensure that product advertisements look greater than it is in reality. The object of such an unfair advertising was some children's products. Another example: women's organizations do not like how the girls portrayed in advertising models. Special methods of processing images allow characters look perfect, absolutely no pigment spots and wrinkles. Willingness and Attempts by some to become similar to those of ideal models ended in disappointment, a feeling of unhappiness, loss of self-esteem, an inferiority complex and even a sense of guilt. Models - Girls high and extremely slender. An effort to resemble them, some young women and young girls are not able to anything to do with his height, all the eagerness to send "extra" kilogram, sometimes bringing their diets to anorexia (pathological loss of appetite, growing revulsion to food).

Harmful stereotypes

Advertising is often blamed for degrading image mockingly and different population groups. Advertising stereotypes contribute to the formation of the same society's attitude to these groups and the perception of them as "second class citizens." For example, the most ardent objections from advocate's ethical advertising are the image of women. In advertising household products, they always appear as the main perpetrators of domestic work. But in the moment the decision to purchase a woman played a major supporting role in a man. Voice vote in advertising - again, mostly men, and hence in the field of advertising practices of women are on the sidelines.

An even more cautious attitude is a manner of images in advertisements for men, women and children. Women have long been unhappy with the fact that they show as sexual objects, and it is unlikely that this will reduce the discontent and the modern tendency to depict men in a similar vein. Critics have expressed strong concern about the ambiguous images of children in advertising, whether alone or with a number of adults.

Many advertisers say that advertising does not create reality, but only holds a mirror, which reflects the society. Whether this is true, we would expect the image in advertising various social groups. However, characters (with both sexes), most of the advertisements in North America and Europe are young, slim, very taut and athletic representatives beta race. While some advertisers are already beginning to-«deal with the importance of different cultural groups and portray, the characters of Asian, and Hispanic origin are relatively rare. And almost never see in advertisements disabled people.


At the core of all marketing, not just advertising is the notion of segmentation - the division of the totality of a consumer product or service into homogeneous groups, for whom it is possible to develop specialized advertising campaigns. Despite the fact that such a practice - a necessary part of any advertising strategy and the efficient allocation of resources, it also raises ethical questions. By the production of advertising for certain groups of consumers should be treated with caution, because these consumers may be limited capacity for absorption of advertising information. Often it is not just about too small font, which is difficult to read for people with impaired eyesight.

Ethics and advertising in an era of technology

Technological progress has given impacts to the development of two types of advertising - direct and online. For direct advertising companies use databases to, first, to reach consumers focused and, secondly, to tailor advertising messages to specific interests, needs and demands of the audience. Even though the real benefit of such advertising to consumers themselves, the strong ethical concerns are invading the privacy of individuals, the practice of selling to other interested parties' lists of consumers (with data on them) and use of personal information about consumers for advertising purposes. To avoid criticism, the companies who have direct advertising, should be carefully protected its databases from access by unauthorized persons, fully inform consumers about the purpose of collecting their personal information and respect the desire of the consumer to remove his name from the database.

By 2000, the number of Internet-users has exceeded one billion. It is therefore not surprising that more and more companies to place their advertisements on the World Wide Web (WWW, or simply Web). Simultaneously with the development of this medium of advertising has grown, and concern about the ethical side. There is much concern for the lack of any protection of consumers using the Web, of unfair advertising. While many of the same ethical pitfalls faced by companies using traditional means of dissemination of advertising, and should avoid Web-advertisers, the latter has its own specific problems. The first - this is the truth of advertising, because the sources of the information contained in the Web-advertising ads often unclear, and the accuracy of the information is not confirmed. If they respond to advertising on the Web and make a purchase online, there is a small, but real chance that the computer fraudsters (so-called "hackers") will have access to information on consumer credit cards and use it for their own purposes, For example, to make purchases, spending money from the accounts of unsuspecting consumers.

A number of studies have shown that one of the most significant factors creating ethical behavior - this is the perception of individuals, the internal environment or corporate culture of the organization. Built on the principles of ethical organizational culture helps member companies to develop strong ideas about what should be the correct behavior. Thus is created the ethics of advertising, serving with the development of an effective advertising power of positive rather than a deterrent.

The internal organization of the climate is not sudden. It is gradually doing its work in people, and this process can be controlled. The climate of the firm significantly influences how it perceived the various ethical issues and how to address ethical conflicts. To influence the formation of organizational culture, leadership of the organization should pay attention to what the values, objectives and goals which are important for the organization as a means for achieving these goals. Having identified the key ethical values, managers are required to reach to all levels of your organization.

Management also should develop and implement a system of rewards. Often, staff members expect ethical behavior as a matter of course, but it's very rare for a reward. And if the right to promote ethical behavior as "inevitable", as a sanction for misuse, the importance of ethics will be understandable to all staff. It should be noted that the ethical process of decision advertising objectives is no less important than the end result of this process. In other words, management must be taken to ensure that the daily activities of the organization and conform to the norms of ethics.

When making decisions that are ethical component, is always a conflict. Since the unresolved conflicts can lead to more serious types of unethical behavior in the development of ethical advertising should take into account the perspective of many stakeholders. To do this, decision makers, are encouraged to put themselves in the place of the representatives of those parties, which most affect the possible solutions, and from this point of view to assess the ethics of their choice.

For example, men who invent ads for women, may present themselves in a female role, which is depicted in advertising, and think about, like whether this role. Organization is also important to publicly and openly discuss all the ethical problems and conflicts, as people participate in decision-making, sense of responsibility and therefore it can be expected ethical choices. A lot is a formal procedure for assessing the ethics of advertising in the process of formulating a strategy. Assigning people responsible for the audit of the organization in terms of ethics and duty to voice their comments, guidance will stress the importance it attaches to this issue.

Trust - is building a solution, fastened dealings. Client companies rely on advertising agencies to the interests of their business. And if customers realize that the advertising agency in something comes unethical, they have doubts about the whole business practices of the partner. And this is the first step to the breakdown of business relations.

Normal advertising (including the normal ethical terms) is good to communicate to potential customers a unique and clear message about your product or service. All the more surprising that some, albeit small, of the ad results in defense of their unethical activities such arguments: the alleged neglect of ethics has become a standard advertising industry and all its members apply the same way. We do know that advertising, retired from the unethical standards that may be unique and set standards for the industry. It has value both for customers and consumers. Thus, the term "advertising ethics" - is not a combination of mutually exclusive concepts, but without a doubt, the normal business practices.


1.The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century

Richard M. Perloff; Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003. 392 pgs.

2. Ethics and manipulation in advertising: answering a flawed indictment
Michael J. Phillips; Westport, Conn. Quorum, 1997.