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Volvo's Bear Foot Misstep. Essay

1490 words - 6 pages

VOLVO'S"BEAR FOOT" MISSTEPINTRODUCTIONThe Volvo car manufacturers in 1990, following a monster truck rally in Vermont, devised an advertisement to show the strength and safety of the Volvo station wagon. The actual event of 1990 was one whereby a monster truck which because of its size was given the name "Bear Foot", rode atop of the roofs of cars lined in its path, one of which was a Volvo. The oversized truck crushed all the other vehicles in its way, except the Volvo wagon and thus the new concept of the car's added strength was adopted.Immediate production of an advertisement to serve as a dramatization of the stunt in the rally in both print and television ads began. The Volvo Car Company chose the advertising agencies of Scali, Mc Cabe and Solves. The production crew, in an effort to enable the Volvo car to withstand the number of takes in the required filming of the advertisement, reinforced the roof of the Volvo with lumber and steel, and partially sawed through the roof support of the other cars. The advertisement made no mention of the fact that it was a reenactment of the events of 1990, and thus leading consumers to believe that it was the actual stunt. This was Volvo's big mistake.This act sparked interest in the attorney general of Texas, who concluded that the cars were rigged and subsequently charged Volvo with consumer fraud. Although engineers in their research determined that the Volvo car could withstand the weight of a five ton truck and that the advertisement was not misleading, the Volvo car company quickly settled the lawsuit, reimbursed the state of Texas for its legal fees and investigation expenses. As well they ran corrective ads in which the company stated they were ignorant of the alterations made to the vehicle in the filming of the ad; however they justified the need for it by saying it was necessary for the filming of the commercial.Was Volvo's rigging of the station wagon unethical? Or was it ethical? Was there a real need to reinforce the vehicle for the filming in the advertisement? Why wasn't there a message informing consumers that the scene was a dramatization? Was the car company trying to depict a false image of their vehicle? Was the response of the car company after claims of deception justifiable? Was there a need for legal action by the state? How does ethical theory treat such an act? Is this a case of deceptive advertising?UNETHICAL ARGUMENTVolvo's advertising message in October 1990, of a Volvo station wagon's strength and safety, is a form of deceptive advertising. It can also be said that Volvo's behavior was unethical. Deception is morally objectionable since the consumer is not provided with adequate information necessary to make a sound decision. According to John Boatright "Deception occurs when a false belief, which an advertisement either creates or takes advantage of, substantially interferes with the ability of people to make rational consumer choices." There are several theories that can...

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