Table of Contents
Why the question is so burning?
The advertisement industry begin developing very fast only during the last few years. The reason is that many products had appeared on the market. Now person can buy everything he wants. Thus, the variety of products makes the rivalry among the similar firms very tough. Which product should the person buy if there are branch of them for the same price. That is why; the necessity of the colorful advertisements is obvious. However, in the rush for the profit, some advertisements are not appropriate. Now advertising is based on the manipulative techniques of mind control, so the question of ethics is very acute. Advertiser shakes, persuades, quietly impose their point of view. Advertising itself, by virtue of its tasks can not be objective, neutral, and even absolutely informative. Those days, when the duties of advertisement included only give the information about new items, have passed. Now the main aim of advertisement is to attract customer`s attention and to force him to make a purchase with the help of all the necessary methods. That is why; the ethical issues in the advertising system are those that should be explored.
What are the main tricks?
Unethical advertisements violate moral norms that are adopted by society. It is logical to assume that the term “morality” in every society can be explained differently. However, there are still some common principles that should be taken to consideration while creating the advertisement.
Firstly, advertisement should disclose the relevant facts and the truth. It is worth mentioning the so-called “need for caution” method. If the ad reveals the dignity of an oak table, in which only the legs are made from oak and other details, including a surface, made from other trees, the consumer needs to know it. The advertisement makers try to find lots of strategies to hide the information from the customer without crossing this rule. However, their deeds are already not ethical. The example can be the general advertisements of the mobile phone operating companies: as a rule the new tariff is described fully and attractively, and the announcement about the const that will be charged to change it, is hardly to be noticed (Reinartz, Ulaga. 2008). This information was intended to hide.
Secondly, all the advertisements should be certified. Preferably, the evidence need to be heard from the experienced dentist, that is competent about the product, based on true and honest opinion or experience (Reinartz, Ulaga. 2008). However, as a rule, the people on the screen are the actors, but not the real dentists who advertize the tooth brash. In three or two month the attentive viewer can see the same dentist in the role of the teacher or the worker in the shop.
Thirdly, the advertisement should avoid the false and unsubstantiated statements about the competitors, their products or services. Of course, the advertisement doesn`t have the obvious statements. However, if to look carefully, the viewer can notice the slight hints, as a rule it is the usage of the same color or shape, that is associated with the competitor`s product. The person won`t pay much attention to it, however in the shop he subconsciously wouldn`t buy the product that was compared to the advised one as worth (Botavina, 2002).
What are the main ethic rules in the advertisement?
When it comes to profitability, tight game with a competitor or hold positions in the market, ethical factors dissolve into nothingness. Companies are trying to enter the market with aggressive and sexual advertising, sometimes using a double standard.
Ethical issues also arise in connection with the advertising, addressed to the children and adolescents. The problem stems is that this audience does not have the necessary experience to evaluate advertising messages, and those strategies that are used in advertising “adult” can simply fool the children. Therefore, relevant organizations, controlling children's advertising, consider some basic principles of advertising messages. Advertisement makers should take to consideration the audience`s awareness; should not exploit children's imagination; has to provide true and accurate information.; should maintain the parents and child relationships.
According to Lihobabin, advertisement should not focus on personal ethics (in relation to the personal qualities); gender ethics (in relation to the image of women and men); sexual ethics (in relation to the use of sexual symbolism and eroticism);age ethics (in relation to older people or young people); racial ethics (in relation to race); the national-cultural ethics (in relation to ethnic minorities); denominational ethics (in relation to the religious beliefs of consumers); law and legal ethics (in relation to compliance with laws and regulations, human rights); corporate ethics (in relationship to competitors); language ethics (in relation to the use of words, incomprehensible to most consumers, or profanity); ethics in relation to children; ethics in relation to persons with physical and / or other disabilities, people with disabilities; political ethics (in relation to the authorities, the political system of the state, state symbols, political parties, etc.); environmental ethics (in relation to the coverage of environmental issues); ethics in relation to animals; historical ethics (in relation to historical events, events, personalities); and geographic ethics (in relation to the specific area of residence) (Lihobabin, 2004).
Botavina proposes to classify the violation of the ethical nature into four divisions (Botavina, 2002):
- Advertised product (category of goods that has “high risk”: advertising alcohol, tobacco products, personal hygiene, sexual products, goods and services of dubious properties, pharmaceuticals and etc.);
- Content (stories offensive to human dignity, false in the interpretation and display the plot, undue exaggeration, deception, negative stereotyping, etc.);
- Impact on human behavior (excessive exploitation of vulnerability, especially children`s and teenagers`s, fear, violence, cruelty);
- Quantity (volume) advertising (too frequent repetitions, unreasonably large number of times the same advertisement, etc.).
This classification is very general and does not include the variety of ethical issues in advertising. Some of the most significant dispute that revolves the ethical issues appeared on limiting advertising of alcohol and tobacco production. In the U.S. cigarette advertising on television has been prohibited since the 1 January 1971. When in the late 80s, the question about a total ban on advertising alcohol and cigarettes was highlighted; it resulted in media scandal (Cohn, 2005).
What are the examples of unethical advertisement?
As it was already mentioned, today`s market are full with the variety of products, that makes it hard to attract the customers. That is why; the advertisement needs to be as catching as possible. The main rule in the advertisement industry is to be unique and memorable. That is why; a lot of advertisements are used based on the themes that are in the middle of appropriateness.
The most common is usage the swear words in the form of the word play or the statements, that have double context. As an example can be the advertisement of the hamburger: on the picture is the young woman that is going to eat the hamburger with the slogan “I will blow your mind” (Patterson, Philip; Wilkins, 2004). Recently the company Intel had to bring their apologies because of the advertisement that was established. The advertisement was oriented on the racial discrimination. On the picture the white man is standing and around many African Americans sportsmen are in the position to run. The slogan is “Double the productivity of the computers, double the productivity of workers.” The image of Hitler was used by the German company that produces the hats. Even though it was unethical, after the advertisement was released, the number of sales had increased in 4 times (Patterson, Philip; Wilkins, 2004).The "SLASAK" company that is specialized on selling knifes casted the advertisement that provoke violence. On the picture is the killed man with the collection of knifes, that stuck in his bailey (Murphy, Patrick, Laczniak, Norman, Bowie and Thomas Klein, 2005)
From a social perspective, unethical advertising should be banned. From the perspective of a successful business, absolutely ethical action is extremely small. Sometimes the placement of a dubious glance, at the board of public morality or video, brings the company greater commercial success and fame more, than the mass of types of accommodation, “without zest” (Pollay, 1983).
Is the ethic needed in advertisements?
From the other point of view, the question appears: “Is the ethic really needed?” The thing is that the common advertisement becomes boring. What is more, people are willing to see something extraordinary, funny or even unethical. The rating of the mark of a beer Guinness with the slogan “Share one with a friend”, despite its unethical side, had 61% more viewers on YouTube, than the new Cola advertisement (Tucker, Zhang. 2011). What is more, there is another caveat. Some of the products themselves are perceived negatively. Among them are: feminine hygiene products, underwear, toilet paper, condoms and others. However now, people have become more liberated. The thing, that previously was regarded to be unethical, now is commonplace. For example, in 1919 in the women's magazine “Ladies Home Journal” deodorant advertisement appeared. The slogan of the advertisement was: “Do not you ever have a chance to completely fight with sweating?” As the result, about two hundred of readers, in the perturbation, opted not to subscribe the journal anymore because of the immoral advertisement (Pollay, 1983).
Now the main debate is about the usage of sex, violence, nudity in the advertisement. However, now the most effective advertisements are those that include erotic pictures. It can already be seen advertisements of the toilets, sinks or bather where the main element is the naked woman. Even such products as the details to the cars now use this strategy in order to attract the customers.
What are the conclusions?
To conclude, the ethical issues in the advertisement system will always be actually due to different reasons. First of all, they will be actually, because the advertisement system influence great amount of people, which is why it would be always taken to consideration the message that is delivered by the advertisement. Secondly, the advertisement industry is the one that gain very big profit from the advertisements. What is more this field of marketing is very competitive. Thus, the rivalry companies would not omit the theme of ethical issues incase their competitor had the success.
However, the ethical issues are changing. The things that were not appropriate in the past, now become normal. Nevertheless ethical issues can be changed during the next 50 years; they will always exist in the advertising industry.