I tend to be a person who likes to follow the rules, whether legal or simply just moral. In class, when we were asked our personal stance on the ethics of marketing, I was quick to explain my stance. Frankly, I do believe that it would be difficult for me to work for an organization that was creating, conducting, or participating in unethical or immoral work. It’s hard to say what my actual response would be if one of my first clients at an agency was a controversially negative one. However, I believe that there are seriously problematic clients, for example a company that is known for their deforestation and ecological destruction. There is a clean line with regard to that company. They are doing something that is socially very frowned upon. On the other hand, there are other categories that don’t necessarily seem so bad, until you really do your research.
For example, there is the topic of advertising to children. As a 21-year-old who rarely deals with children, advertising to children didn’t seem so bad to me. My idea of a commercial targeted towards a child was usually just for toys. In my head, I imagined that the only controversy that a toy commercial would cause was a child begging their parent for a new doll or stuffed animal. However, there is a lot of psychology behind this form of advertising. It’s been shown that most preschool children can’t discern an advertisement from the program that they are watching. Children must understand how advertising works on a in order to use their cognitive defenses against it. After learning all of this, I can understand why advertising to children can be a controversial subject.
A topic that I understand on a greater level than child advertising is the use of stereotypes in advertising, most specifically of solely using women as sex objects. An advertising campaign that I’ve been confused and slightly disgusted by is the Carl’s Junior ads that feature scantily clad women who are provocatively eating hamburgers. I would never be able to work on a campaign like that. Carl’s Junior was purely using women as sex objects. The view of women that they portray continues to hold up the sexist view that many individuals still have.
On a completely different spectrum, a broader topic when it comes to the ethics of advertising is that advertising and marketing encourage materialism. While I can understand how this can be seen, I think that advertising leads to something much greater, and not nearly as negative as just pure materialism. Personally, advertising is a sign of companies competing with each other. Competition is important for innovation and keeping society moving and continuously updating I also understand that this is a highly capitalistic view, but I still believe in its validity. So while there are positives and negatives in the intentions of advertising, I believe that it keeps our society fresh when it comes to what we can create and offer.