Ad Ethics in the Digital Age: Too Far Gone?

I am not one who believes that advertising is evil. Do I feel that boundaries can be crossed and should be handled accordingly by governing bodies? Of course. However, as a marketer in the digital age, I believe it is becoming increasingly challenging to market to an audience and receive meaningful engagement in return. Not only is it proven that traditional ads just don’t have impact with the millennial market, oversaturation of ads on nearly every communication platform has lead to serious advertising blindness. This leaves advertisers with few options, forcing them to play dirty to get on the radar of possible consumers.

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Sponsored Content: Optimizing Reach Through Social Platforms

These days, nearly all businesses require some form of digital presence. Minimally, businesses must have a Google listing for both baseline legitimacy as well as consumer access. Optimally, however, many businesses are using social media platforms very much to their advantage. Social media platforms have created tools specifically to allow business to engage with existing customers and market to potential future buyers. Depending on the organization’s offerings and target market, doing so can reap serious benefits. In the following examples, we will explore situations where companies have successfully used well-structured social media campaigns, pre and post-launch, in order to maximize reach and engage with customers.

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Stranger Things Ramp-Up: Peak Marketing Genius

Along with the show’s 13.7 million other viewers, I have fallen victim to the 80’s nostalgic magic that is Stranger Things. With a phenomenal plot, exquisite score, and near-perfect set and costume design, the show is easy to fall in love with. Even if it weren’t, however, the brilliant multi-channel marketing campaigns would be enough to ensnare even the most media-resistant consumer. Aside from aggressive social media campaigns that span across nearly every platform, large-scale publicity stunts, and witty billboards, Netflix has also artfully paired with era-appropriate brands to create brilliant simplistic tv spots. These nostalgic ads appeal help to bridge the age gap in marketing by appealing not only to those who remember the throwback references, but also the modern-day hipster market with an appreciation for vintage flair.

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Minimalist Means More in ASPCA Print Ad Campaigns

Earlier this year, the ASPCA ran an interactive print campaign that I found to be quite moving. Nestled in the pages of beauty magazines that usually have pull-away perfume samples, the organization placed ads featuring different breeds of dog with a euthanasia needle poised to strike the animal in the neck. Below the needle is the  fact that 10,000 dogs are euthanized every day and the instruction to pull. When the reader pulls the tab as instructed, it reveals a collar around the dogs neck with the simple request to “Adopt Today” and the ASPCA website. This ad gives the reader the opportunity to imagine this dog both in the vulnerable state of being on the brink of losing it’s life in juxtaposition with it being happily adopted by it’s new owner. I found it to be simple and understated, yet striking and meaningful. While I feel the ad speaks volumes, is it enough to inspire people to rescue animals? Perhaps not. I feel that many have become desensitized to euthanasia of animals because they don’t have to face it or think about it often.

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