Is Advertising Ethical? Essay, Research Paper
Advertiser??s main purpose is to make consumers aware of new products and services and to persuade them to buy. Granted advertising does differ from the news and entertainment media, but that doesn??t mean it should not have to follow similar ethical standards. Advertising, too, should be held to the truth, as many people take it at face value and gullibly believe all or most of what is said. Although it is true that we should learn how to interpret advertisings, it is not our responsibility to interpret an advertisement??s honesty and accuracy. The definition of truth in this case should be the leaving out of any false statements used in an effort to deceive, and all relevant information, the good and the bad, must be included in the statement.
I would like to discuss a few of the more abundant methods advertisers employ in order to deceive potential consumers and emphasize the features of their products.
1. Some advertisements all capitalize on half-truths and trickery. The people cheated are often too embarrassed to admit their gullibility and seek redress, or decide that the amount lost is not worth the cost of pursuing the advertisers. This allows the advertisers to continue their scam and trick even more people with their dishonesty. People have to try to figure out if advertising is legitimate and plausible.
For example, shopping via Internet, consumers usually disappointment and being cheated when they receive the goods by Mail.
2. One of them is the appeal to an authority. This is clearly seen when companies use celebrities to sell their products, such as Michael Jordan selling phone services. The underlying message here is that people who use this service or buy this product will be living the high life of a celebrity, but usually these famous people do not use the same product themselves.
3. Another big deception is the use of fine print. Advertisers often tout wonderful coverage of their products in bright, bold words and pictures, but they take it away in the fine print. This is where they put all the information about how the product may harm you or the stipulations that go along with their services, but it all too often goes unread and may cause serious harm to the consumer in certain cases such as with over-the-counter medications.
4. Probably the biggest deception is the suppression of certain information. Companies will emphasize the positive aspects of their products while downplaying the negatives. This is easily shown in a majority of commercials and advertisements when companies employ half-truths and vaguery. An example of suppressed information is the common labeling of foods as fat-free. Sure, they may be fat free, but they could very well be high in cholesterol, which the advertisement does not say. When cholesterol is digested, if the body does not burn it off, it is turned into fat. It is important for companies to include the bad aspects of their products as well as the good so consumers can judge for themselves if they want to buy such products. This is especially so for companies offering medicines. They should have to clearly explain all of the possible bad side-affects of their product in order to protect their consumers from illness or death.
Smoking advertising effects children
Everyday 3,000 children start smoking, most them between the ages of 10 and 18. These kids account for 90 percent of all new smokers. In fact, 90 percent of all adult smokers said that they first lit up as teenagers (Roberts). These statistics clearly show that young people are the prime target in the tobacco wars. The cigarette manufacturers may deny it, but advertising and promotion play a vital part in making these facts a reality (Roberts).
Dr. Lonnie Bristow, AMA (American Medical Association) spokesman, remarks that “to kids, cute cartoon characters mean that the product is harmless, but cigarettes are not harmless. They have to know that their ads are influencing the youth under 18 to begin smoking”(Breo).
U.S. News recently featured a discussion of the smoking issue with 20 teenagers from suburban Baltimore. The group consisted of ten boys and ten girls between the ages of 15 and 17. When asked why they started smoking, they gave two contradictory reasons: They wanted to be a part of a peer group. They also wanted to reach out and rebel at the same time. ” When you party, 75 to 90 percent of the kids are smoking. It makes you feel like you belong,” says Devon Harris, a senior at Woodlawn High. Teens also think of smoking as a sign of independence. The more authority figures tell them not to smoke, the more likely they are to pick up the habit (Roberts). The surprising thing is that these kids know that they are being influenced by cigarette advertising.
This type of advertising, on top of peer pressure, is the mystery behind the rise in adolescent smoking.
Researchers at Harvard University and the Boston University School of Public Health have found that cigarette companies whose brands are popular with smokers ages 10 to 15 are more likely to place advertisements in magazines with a high number of young readers. Researchers looked at 36 magazines, 15 of which were youth magazines, that were published from 1986 to 1994 and found that while brands popular with youths made up 43 percent of the cigarette ads in adult magazines, they made up 67 percent of the cigarette ads in youth magazines.
In conclusion, I believe that advertisers and the media they appear in should judge first whether a product is suitable to be presented to the public, and if the message accompanying it is misleading or misinforming potential consumers. If it is, then the advertising should be either rejected or altered to present the truth. The truth should be the leaving out of any false statements used in an effort to deceive, and all relevant information, the good and the bad, must be included. If we are not given all of the relevant information, or we are given false information, then we can not make a rational decision on that product. False messages are wrong because they ignore normal ethical considerations of truth-telling; it contributes to misinterpretation, to providing false images, to exaggerated expectations and to often getting something that does not live up to its promises.
The purpose of the First Amendment is to allow American??s the freedom to express how they feel; therefore, advertising is simply a practice of this right.
Brock’s panel faced the challenge of resolving the ethical conflict between Wal-Mart’s grammatical argument and the sense that consumers were being deceived by the slogan’s clever wording. Personally, she was surprised that neither Wal-Mart nor the competitors had completed any research to determine the level of consumer confusion. One day in class she conducted an informal survey. She asked her students, “What do you interpret the phrase ‘Always The Low Price, Always’ to mean?” Nine students of 10 affirmed the competitors’ complaint that the slogan meant the lowest price.