Ethics means a set of moral principles which govern a person’s behavior or how the activity is conducted. And advertising means a mode of communication between a seller and a buyer.
Thus ethics in advertising means a set of well defined principles which govern the ways of communication taking place between the seller and the buyer. Ethics is the most important feature of the advertising industry. Though there are many benefits of advertising but then there are some points which don’t match the ethical norms of advertising.
An ethical ad is the one which doesn’t lie, doesn’t make fake or false claims and is in the limit of decency.
Nowadays, ads are more exaggerated and a lot of puffing is used. It seems like the advertisers lack knowledge of ethical norms and principles. They just don’t understand and are unable to decide what is correct and what is wrong.
The main area of interest for advertisers is to increase their sales, gain more and more customers, and increase the demand for the product by presenting a well decorated, puffed and colorful ad. They claim that their product is the best, having unique qualities than the competitors, more cost effective, and more beneficial. But most of these ads are found to be false, misleading customers and unethical. The best example of these types of ads is the one which shows evening snacks for the kids, they use coloring and gluing to make the product look glossy and attractive to the consumers who are watching the ads on television and convince them to buy the product without giving a second thought.
Ethics in Advertising is directly related to the purpose of advertising and the nature of advertising. Sometimes exaggerating the ad becomes necessary to prove the benefit of the product. For e.g. a sanitary napkin ad which shows that when the napkin was dropped in a river by some girls, the napkin soaked whole water of the river. Thus, the purpose of advertising was only to inform women about the product quality. Obviously, every woman knows that this cannot practically happen but the ad was accepted. This doesn’t show that the ad was unethical.
- Pharmaceutical Advertising
Companies in the pharmaceutical industry employ advertising strategy as a way to create awareness. The main point in the adverts which is emphasized upon by advertisers is that medicines cure; however, they rarely give information regarding the side effects or associated risks. This obviously shows that most advertisers talk of positive values while neglecting the negative effects associated with the product.
The main sellers in product advertisements are the children. The reason is that they have a convincing power to lure buyers to purchase a product. The thing is that in case children are used in ads, they should not be casted handling activities independently, for instance, holding milk bottles, toy playing and teeth brushing. These should be shown when an adult person is assisting them to handle the activities. It is logical for parents to be shown getting involved with their children when advertising certain products and services.
Up to the current market place, no advertisement has been shown with a person practically drinking the actual liquor. In these ads, the demonstrators usually use sodas and mineral water which pose the actual liquor brand name. For such ads, they are referred to as surrogate adverts. Practically, whether there are alcohol advertisements or not, it is highly possible that loyal consumers will continue drinking alcohol.
- Cigarettes and Tobacco
In the real sense, tobacco and cigarettes need not be advertised because people consuming these products are likely to suffer severe health issues and cancer. Practically, such adverts are banned in a number of countries namely Singapore, Finland, India and Norway.
- Ads for Social Causes
Adverts associated with social causes are classified as ethical and should be acceptable among people. Nevertheless, advertisements associated with condoms and pills for contraceptives should be controlled because they exhibit unethical nature. Basically, such activity may compromise the decency and morality particularly in areas where education and knowledge of the product are limited. Based on the approach mentioned above, it becomes vital for advertisers to be responsible for ensuring that ads are self regulated.