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The Effect Of Ethics In Advertising On Consumers

1983 words - 8 pages

The sun is shining and there are palm trees in the distance. A vast beach stretches until the cerulean water washes over the shore. A man is sitting in a beach chair, sipping a beer, while being fanned by multiple woman in string bikinis. The faint sound of crashing waves is in the background. He looks at the camera, and says, “Life is cool.” Then the logo of a popular brand of beer appears on the screen. This television ad for a popular beer is the perfect example of advertising puffery. It exaggerates what will really happen if you drink their brand of beer (AdContexual). It is highly unlikely you’ll attract beautiful woman just by drinking their brand, unless you’re Johnny Depp, of course. A good advertisement creates artificial needs for the viewer (Kilboune). You would probably have the same chance of attracting beautiful woman by drinking any other brand of beer, and most people know this. They also know that most advertisements “stretch the truth“, and everything is not always what it seems (AdContexual). Most people understand that a certain shampoo won’t make them look like the models in the commercial (AdContexual). But at what point does stretching the truth, become unethical? Advertisements are designed to break through the “tuning out process”. They make them flashy, humorous, emotional, anything to get through to the viewer (Kilboune). The ethics in advertising does not follow clear moral standards.
Ethics in advertising depends solely on your beliefs. For instance, if you believe that consumers are rational, self-aware, and skeptical, then you won’t find anything unethical about an ad saying that “Red Bull gives you wings.“ Criticisms range from claiming a sugar-coated cereal is part of a nutritious breakfast, to saying things that aren’t true or deceiving the viewer as well. Critics also say the advertising industry overall does not go with the clear ethical standards. As a consequence for this assortment of views, sometimes even legal action is taken (AdContexual). This result is caused by advertising practitioners having something called “moral myopia”. Moral myopia is the difficulty seeing ethical issues and having a distortion of moral vision (Drumwright). Which means the advertising industry does not distinguish between morally right and wrong (AdContextual). Therefore, advertising practitioners have moral muteness. In essence, this is having difficulty in talking about ethical issues (Drumwright). The most common unethical behavior is advertising to children, promotion of alcohol, and the advertising of tobacco and contraceptives. Consequently, the ethics in advertising is by and large a gray area to most. Although there are some who have a distinct, clear view (AdContexual).
“Psychologists who help advertisers are essentially helping them manipulate children to believe in the capitalistic message, when all the evidence shows that believing that message is bad for people; That’s unethical.” This quote on a negative...

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