Unethical Advertising

Posted on 24 July 2012 by Milana Rao (Contributing Writer)

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Advertising is planned persuasion to promote products, ideas or services. It effectively uses media as its tool. Advertisements are in the form of bill boards, hoardings, on television, on radio, newspapers, pamphlets, leaflets, inside the train coaches, on the panels of buses and where not?! Advertising is everything we see around us. E.g. if a pen works well, we tend to notice its brand – even that is a form of advertising!

Advertising affects our life as a consumer and as a citizen. We are made aware of new products in the market or of a new government policy via advertising. There are also some advertisements which are issued in the interest of the public. The marketing function is incomplete without advertising. It helps to pre-sell, promote, generate interest and finally sell the product. No business can succeed without advertising.

Since advertising is all so important and widespread, it becomes very necessary for the advertisers to keep in mind the code of ethics and values while creating advertisements.

Now, what actually does ethical mean? Anything is said to be ethical when it is within the basic morals and values with which we live; that which tells us what is good for us and what is bad. Ethical advertisement then would mean one that portrays truth and the one which refrains from misleading the masses and which would not be indecent or objectionable for larger audiences.

It would be correct to say that with the increasing importance of advertising we are currently witnessing a decrease in moral and ethics that these advertisements adhere to. Today there are many advertisements proving the same.

There are many advertisements promising the thing that never gets delivered and mind you that even includes reputed brands. E.g. Fair and Lovely ads show that girls can get fair in just 7 days. We all know this is not possible!

The ads choosing the indecent path to advertise are also on rise. The ‘Axe’ deodorant advertisements use women as sexual objects to promote their brand. The ‘Amul macho’ ads do the same. The errors on the part of advertising agencies and brands cannot be overlooked as this has a very bad impact on the children and society at large.

Some brands purposely resort to unethical or ambiguous advertisements in order to gain publicity. For such brands publicity in any form is desirable. Some celebrities featured in such unethical advertisements just add fuel to the fire. These kinds of celebrity endorsements have a very bad effect on the people who tend to hero-worship celebrities.

It is agreeable that the competition is rising and the market is overflowing with creative advertisements. It has become very difficult to grab the attention span of the audience. However resorting to immoral means to promote product is not right.

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