Knowledge Question: What are the ethical limitations of advertising?
To what extent do we decide? We tell ourselves we choose our own life course, but is this ever true?
We can expect commercial enterprises to attempt whatever lawful ruses they can pull off. It is up to society, represented by government, to stop them, through the kind of regulation that has so far been lacking. But what puzzles and disgusts me even more than this failure is the willingness of universities to host research that helps advertisers hack our minds. The Enlightenment ideal, which all universities claim to endorse, is that everyone should think for themselves. So why do they run departments in which researchers explore new means of blocking this capacity?
For my generation, editing your own image has become as routine as using social media. We grew up with airbrushing and Photoshop and saw the exposés of flawless magazine cover stars who weren’t flawless at all. Instead of rejecting the falsehoods we’ve made it part of our daily lives, crafting idealised digital versions of ourselves that feel like an essential corollary to real life. Technology has set a new standard for beauty that quite literally doesn’t exist in real life. Rather than reject that, we’ve embraced it.
Do companies have a responsibility for the effects of their advertising?
“The connection between the propagation of unrealistic body images and negative health effects, especially in girls and young women, has been established,” she said. “As a purpose-led company, we strive to do our best to assure all of the messages we are sending to our customers reflect our purpose of helping people on their path to better health.”
Is it ethical for magazines and advertisers to digitally manipulate photos? What if these images have a negative impact on people’e self image and lead to various disorders? Do these companies have any responsibility? What about the fact that these are companies trying to profit and if their advertising is not effective they would not be profitable? What if the magazines sold fewer copies or advertisers sold fewer products if they didn’t retouch their models so drastically? Is it appropriate to tell people that if they don’t like what magazines or advertisers are doing then you don’t have to look or buy?
Below are a few links to interesting stories and websites on the issue.
Do advertisers have an ethical responsibility to accurately inform their audiences?
Energy drinks are really popular and increasingly so. They make many claims about increased mental and physical performance and charge a lot of money for their products. If the actual product they’re selling is nothing more than overpriced caffeine with some other ingredients thrown in, are they behaving unethically?
Here is a DirecTv ad that makes is what is called a slippery slope fallacy in its reasoning. It’s intentional in order to be funny. You’ll notice that each step in the argument is only loosely related to the one before which takes you from one event to a very different place in the end.
One of the most famous and controversial political ads in American history, LBJ’s “Daisy Ad” was a great example of an appeal to emotion argument. Rather than present a reasoned argument or discuss facts, the ad takes one of the scariest prospects of the time, or any time, nuclear war, and tries to capitalize on people’s emotions by saying that a vote for the other guy would lead to nuclear war. The ad was only aired once but had a huge impact.