Categorized | WriteBox

Why Are Commercials Banned?

Posted on 30 May 2011 by Averee Burman

There are many advertisements which  that appeal to our senses. So we treasure their memories-  as a source of humour or knowledge. Some advertisements touch us deeply. They strike an instant emotional connect.  The advertisements then are of some functional value to us.

However, every rose has its thorn. Certain advertisements made in bad taste are however banned. They are censored so strictly that the public are even unaware of their existence. It is that strict step by the government to rule out the existence of any advertisement that might be violating all credos and ethos of ethical  promotion of a concept or a product.

Marketers can go to any extremes to sell their products. They have no scruples. Ethics nearly plays no role in their conscience. They are so highly profit driven in this competitive  market, that even if they do know that the product they might sell might cause harm  to the consumer, they still will not pay heed to their inner voice of societal  reasoning.

In this regard, we can even say that the consumers themselves indulge in  negligent behavior. At this juncture thus the government tries to step in to balance the buying and selling of services or products that might demean social and individual welfare.

In banning advertisements, there are 3 main reasons-

  • Deceptive advertising
  • Advertising to children
  • Telemarketing fraud

Deceptive advertising is the one which is potentially misleading or literally false is deceptive.

Potentially misleading ads are difficult to evaluate because miscomprehension may often occur. Miscomprehension is a problem for firms because the audience does not understand the message being delivered. The FTC regulates deceptive advertising, but not miscomprehension.

Both policy makers and marketing managers have reacted to criticism of advertising directed at children.

Some countries have banned advertising to children under 12.  The elderly are vulnerable to fraud by telemarketers.  A program to combat this fraud is the Know Fraud Program.  Organizations that fight telemarketing fraud are the AARP, the FBI, the  Post Office, and others.

Negligent behavior is composed of actions and inactions that may negatively affect the long-term quality of life of individuals and society.

This type of behavior can occur in two different contexts:

  • Product Misuse
  • Consumption of Hazardous Products

Many injuries result  from misuse of a safe  product – not from product defects.Using a cell phone while driving is being outlawed in some areas.

Between 1988 and 1998 alcohol related accidents have declined. The methods used to increase consumer awareness are:

  • Informing and Education
  • Social Controls
  • Economic Incentives
  • Economic Disincentives

Some products are hazardous and consumption can become compulsive or addictive over time.

Other behaviors are not harmful in moderation but become addictive when they become compulsive.

  • Smoking
  • Compulsive Drinking
  • Gambling
  • Compulsive Shopping
  • Other Compulsions

Consumers until the late 1960 s were exposed to nearly 3000 cigarette commercials per week of 38 different brands. In 1950 there was already concern over the health hazards of cigarette smoking.  Smoking declined from the 1960 s to 1992 but has held steady since then. As mentioned earlier, there has been a decline in alcohol-related deaths on the road. This suggests a decline in alcohol consumption.  Despite the decrease in sales of hard liquor, there is an increase in alcoholic soft drinks.  These taste like colas or fruit juices but may contain more alcohol than beer does. Gambling affects an estimated 8 to 12 million people. Gambling takes place in casinos in Las Vegas,  New Jersey, on river boats and elsewhere.  State-run lotteries make it easy to gamble by visiting a convenience store. Some consumers “shop till they drop” because shopping can become an addiction similar to alcohol or drugs. There are drugs available to help relieve this compulsion.  Compulsive shopping may be hereditary.

Many ads for instance Nike or even Pepsi etc for their sweatshop or child labour allegations had been banned worldwide.  Ads which cross the limits of vulgarity like the Axe ads mostly have been banned. The main idea is not to distort the notion of attraction and not to demean women. Lastly most ads have been banned because of aggravating the culture sensitive notions of the consumers or even belying the tender age of the youngsters. The Amul Macho ads show the Indian women in bad light. The alcohol ads have been totally banned and yet many companies resort to surrogate marketing that sometimes backfire because they are made in bad taste. Even a couple of  ads of  Fair And Lovely- which destroyed the perception of beauty were banned by the government. And rightly so since the Indian consumers had to wake up to the reality of the beauty of their dark skins.

The parameters of acceptance have changed today with the mindset becoming more flexible and adapting to the changing times.  Thus there are new avenues to explore for the ad-makers of the world such that  no boundaries- cultural, emotional, or physical – are transgressed.

A new idea these days are for firms to come up with their corporate social responsibility towards the citizens of their land.

“Corporate social responsibility” refers to the idea that firms have an obligation to help the larger society by offering some of their resources.

This position would permit expenditures in support of socially responsible activities and provide future benefits in the form of consumer approval and loyalty.

One way of showing that companies are socially responsible is by creating a positive public image.

Another way that firms can show they are socially responsible is by making speedy product recalls. Behind this CSR drive remains the key is only to get  returns on investment.

Thus both consumers and the marketers can flirt with the boundaries of acceptance as much as they can push it. But in doing so, they must keep the larger picture in mind. The moment they cross the line- their efforts in creativity aka the commercials get banned. The government puts its foot down.

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