Ethical Advertising means doing what the advertiser and the advertiser’s peers believe is morally right in a given situation. Social responsibility means doing what the society views as best for the welfare of the people in general or for a specific community of people. Together, ethics and social responsibility can be seen as the moral obligation of advertisers not to violate our basic economic assumptions even when there is no legal obligation. Advertising is defined as a paid non personal communication about an organisation and its products that is transmitted to a target audience through a mass medium. Advertising is widely criticized due to exaggerated claims, outright falsehoods, lack of taste, irritating repetition and offensive character. Advertising promotes the culture of consumerism, and manipulates human motivations and desires and develops a need for goods with which the public has been unfamiliar at one point of time. Major Controversies in Advertising
The Tobacco Advertising Controversy
While tobacco is a legal product, the harm created by smoking ends up killing or disabling more than half a million people annually. In 1998, a landmark judgement was passed on the marketing activities undertaken by tobacco companies which banned them from using any form of outdoor advertising such as posters, bill boards, sponsorship of events, advertising to children. The Issue of Advertising to children
Advertising to children poses different challenges. It promotes superficiality and excessive materialism among them. Children those belonging to the age group of 2-11 on an average they watch about 21.5 hrs of Television per week. Children are inexperienced and hence they are easily lured into advertisements. It promotes persuasiveness among children and this can create child parent conflicts. While most children and parents jointly make decisions, children use their pester power to get parents to buy them products by getting persuaded through advertising. To promote responsible children’s advertising the Children’s Advertising Review Unit(CARU) provides a general advisory service for advertisers and agencies and offers guidelines to them. Developed countries are far more stricter in their advertising to children, Norway and Sweden for eg do not permit television advertising to be directed to children below the age group of 12 and no advertisements are all allowed during children’s programmes. Germany and Holland prohibit sponsorship of children’s shows.
Truth in Advertising
Advertising in some people’s minds is characterised by what is called puffery. Puffery means exaggerated commendation or hype. Eg Papa Jones Campaign “ Better Ingredients, Better Pizza” Key issues of Debate
1.Deception: This refers not only to the information content in the advertisement, but also those that arise from over emphasis in presentations or omission of some facts which are important to be told to the consumer. Deception creates a misleading impression, also includes making false statements and misrepresentation. These ads convey a false impression and have the potential to deceive or mislead reasonable people.
2.Manipulation: Advertising can manipulate buyers into making a decision against their will or interest. This is done through emotional appeal. It limits the free and informed action, convinces consumers to purchase something that is based on incorrect or inconclusive information. It manipulates consumers into buying things by playing on their emotions and promising greater status and social acceptance.
3.Lack of Taste: Advertising is considered to lack taste when the ads portrayed are offensive, have sexual appeal, violence and promote shock advertising. 4.Negative Advertising: It emphasises the negative attributes of competitors instead of focussing on positive attributes of own products. Eg Horlicks and Complan, Pepsi Vs Thums Up. 5.Unethical Advertising: This occurs when the advertiser promises something that cannot be delivered.
Advertising Stds Council of India or ASCI gives guidelines on how companies must advertise in India. Rules:
1.Should ridicule caste or creed
2.Should not promote terrorism or violence
3.Should not ridicule the national flag
4.Should not ridicule the Father of the nation.