The Ethics of Advertising: Do Advertisers Go Too Far?
Do advertisers go too far?
Advertising is any paid form of non-personal communication about an organization, good, service or idea by an identified sponsor (Berkowitz, Crane, Kerin, Hartley, & Rudelius, 494). Advertisements are displayed through various means to a large audience. They can be found on the Internet, in a magazine, or even on the highway. Advertisements are everywhere! Their main goal is to grab the consumer's attention about a specific good, service or institution. To achieve this goal, advertisers use an assortment of techniques. However, some of the techniques used are illegal, unethical, or both. To illustrate, there is an illegal trick known as "bait and switch". This tactic requires placing an ad for an item at tremendous value. Upon reaching the store, the shopper finds that the item is "no longer available" and in order to alleviate their sorrow at missing the deal they are directed to a similar item that, while not as good of a bargain (sometimes no bargain at all) closely matches what they came for (Rubak, 2001). There is a great deal of controversy concerning the ethics of advertising. Advertising is more accepted by society if there are benefits, like cheaper prices. With their product ads, companies sponsor events (such as sports), reduce newspaper and magazine prices, and cover production costs for television shows. Conversely, when advertising has a negative effect on society, it is rejected. For example, the ban placed on smoking ads. Smoking causes people to be ill, so they visit the hospital. Society (the tax payers) pays for the medical costs; therefore smoking ads are not advantageous.
Depending on the call for action, advertising can be classified as either direct-response or delayed-response. Direct-response advertising seeks to motivate the customer to take immediate action (Berkowitz et al., 496). For instance, when a television as asks the consumer to dial a
References: Berkowitz, Erin N., Crane, Frederick G., Kerin, Roger A., Hartley, Steven W., & Rudelius, William. (2003). Marketing, 5th Canadian edition. Toronto: McGraw- Hill Ryerson, Ltd. Clay, Rebecca A. (2000, September). Advertising to children: is it ethical? Monitor on Psychology, 31(8). Lippke, Richard L. (1999). The "necessary evil" of manipulative advertising. Business & Professional Ethics Journal. 18(1). Retrieved March 31, 2004, from Business Source Elite database. Rubak, John. (2001, August 7). Ethics in advertising. Retrieved April 5, 2004, from www.rubak.com/article.cfm?ID=13 World Business Organization. (1997). Internatonal Chamber of Commerce international code of advertising practice. Retrieved April 5, 2004, from http://www.iccwbo.org/home/statements_rules/rules/1997/advercod.asp