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Ethics In Advertising Essay

889 words - 4 pages

At the heart and soul of advertising, public relations, and marketing is the sales objective. These institutions stand to sell products and services to consumerist markets on behalf of larger corporations and smaller businesses. For advertising and public relations, the tactics used to sell these products and services to consumers is use of clever manipulation, the utilization of spin, and creative persuasion in advertisements, video/news releases, and marketing campaigns. While the use of these tools greatly benefits the businesses behind these movement it remains to be seen whether advertising and public relations serves corporate interest or citizen interest. Thus the discussion of what constitutes ethical behavior in advertising and public relations fuels a clash between corporations and consumers.
With any story, there’s two sides of the coin. On one side, advertising and public relations have become an integral function of our consumerist economy because it provides information to consumers regarding the products and services that attract them. In addition, advertising and PR generates competition between businesses which fuels the economy, causes growth, and benefits consumers. On the opposite side, advertising and PR can be seen as the manipulative corporate hand in the public sphere that uses aggressive sales tactics, false claims, and clouded perceptions to serve their own self-interests which in turn fragments consumers. Both sides could be argued for, but it’s up to organizations like the FTC and the IAE to guide the advertising and PR industries down an ethical path that leads to the benefit of consumers rather than as the force of manipulation. An interview with the IAE, the president of Global Advertising and Strategy reiterated that it’s crucial for the advertising agency to handle the information they present to the public with the same scrutiny as journalists do when presenting editorial information (p. 3). As a whole, I believe documents such as the IAE Principles and Practices of Advertising Ethics are good-natured and do influence the industry at some levels, but the practice of unethical behaviors persist. There are many examples of businesses that pressure advertisers to display false claims in their ads to get consumers to buy their product. One such example was in 2004 when Splenda made the false claim in advertisements that their product was derived from sugar, implying that Splenda was an all-natural sweetener. Contrary to that statement, it was made aware that Splenda is developed from chlorinated hydrocarbons (Cosgrove-Mather, pp.1-2). While this may not seem like a huge concern, the perception given to artificial sweeteners (based on advertisements) is that they are healthier than regular sugar. These false perceptions have caused alarming trends...

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