Professional persuasion straddles many lines of ethicality. For Twix, the ethical dilemma came in the form of a candy bar in the hand of a cheating boyfriend. A bite of Twix pauses time long enough for the boyfriend to concoct a lie about the incriminating text message his girlfriend found on his phone. Based on the results of the TARES moral consequences test, it is unethical for Mars, Inc., to run this advertisement.
The first measure of ethicality verifies the truthfulness of the message. As Bivins describes, “The communication should be factually accurate.” The Twix advertisement uses humor rather than deception to exaggerate the effects of the candy bar. The false impressions are clear and understood by the audience. Taking a bite of Twix will neither pause the space-time continuum nor save someone from an incriminating text. Therefore, adding the words, “This ad does not replicate true events” or “Do not try at home” is not necessary. The truthfulness of the message passes the ethicality test.
The next guidance from the TARES test involves the authenticity of the persuader. The ad should represent the high principles and noble intentions of the brand. If we look at the “Need a moment?” campaign for Twix, it lacks nobility. The ads from the campaign generally employ humor to get the “Twix consumer” out of embarrassing situations, usually through a lie. Bevin describes, “If you would be ashamed to be revealed as a participant in a persuasive campaign, then you shouldn’t be doing it.” This specific ad portrays women as gullible and men as cheating liars. Neither of these characteristics “conform to the highest principles…or arise from noble intentions.” The director probably would not feel comfortable in the shoes of either character within the ad. Therefore, the Twix commercial fails the authenticity of the persuader test.
The principle of respect states messages “should appeal to the higher natures of people, not…appeal to their baser...