Advertising in an Ethical Manner The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines advertising as the act of making something publicly and generally known. Advertisements are seen in varieties of ways and through many different sources by millions of people every day. Advertisements can be found online, in magazines, along roadways, even in classrooms! These advertisements are all aimed at a specific product, service, or company and are targeting consumers of all ages.
In order to achieve their goal, advertisers use a variety of techniques, many of which you are aware, but also some disguised and subliminal advertising techniques that only your subconscious may be aware of. Throughout this paper I will discuss some of the ethical issues and problems caused by various types of advertising and what needs to be done in order to better protect the consumer from these threats. The first type of advertising I am going to discuss is disguised advertising.
The purpose of disguised advertising is to bring attention to your product or service to the unsuspecting consumer. Consumers, being anyone who utilizes economic goods, essentially can be anyone at any age. Even elementary school children have been shown to impact consumer spending each year by $175 billion (p. 337). Disguised advertising can be seen in a variety of different avenues and one of the most popular ways is through the media. The major issue regarding threats to consumers and the media is a problem involving the disclosure of information.
The main issue arises when a reporter, expert, or interviewee is paid, bribed, or coerced into reporting on a product, service, or company for the purpose of advertising to consumers. This means of advertising is often, for obvious reasons, not disclosed the broadcasting company as well as to the audience. James Oppenheim is a good example of an expert who was paid by companies to review their products on air. In Mr. Oppenheim’s case, he was invited by numerous broadcast stations to review give his expertise on educational toys and gadgets for children.
Each time, Mr. Oppenheim would go and praise products by companies with whom he had made prior deals. “A long-standing principle of journalism holds that reporters cannot have financial relationships with the people or companies they cover”. (p. 332) This principle is in place in order to ensure unbiased journalism and reporting. When a expert is paid to mention specific products, they then have a vested interest in exaggerating their opinion on that specific product in order to keep the money coming, wouldn’t they?
Though some reviewers like Mr. Oppenheim praise some of the products they are paid to review, they could still be offering their genuine opinion, but how would the consumer ever know. The truth is, you wouldn’t know unless you had the expert hooked up to a polygraph machine; it would be very difficult to There is a great deal of controversy concerning the ethics of advertising. Works Cited “advertise. ” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009. Merriam-Webster Online. 1 December 2009? <http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/advertise>