What are the ethical issues (internal and external) facing organisations within the advertising sector and how are they being addressed?
Advertising is essential across all sectors of business. It is key to making a business successful because it connects the business with potential customers. It is an increasingly powerful tool however it can be very easily misused. This report will discuss the ethical issues affecting advertising within the private sector and the ways these issues are being resolved. These issues are false advertising, social reasonability and advertising to children.
The power of advertising is so great that it can also leave consumers vulnerable. It is said “In one ...view middle of the document...
However not all organisations can use their name alone to make their products stand out and this is where the ethical issue of false advertising tends to arise. In order to gain attention some companies over claim the power of their products, which is in other words dishonest. And because these claims can make the difference between people spending their hard earned money and not, it becomes unethical when these claims are false. Take the case of yogurt maker Dannon, in 2010 they were taken to court over the claims they made about their bestselling yogurt “Activia”. It is marketed as a healthy food product based on its low calorie content which is true, however the yogurt giant added claims that “consuming Activia daily relieved irregularity, and that DanActive helped people avoid catching colds” (Federal Trade Commission, 2010). These claims were found to be untrue, leading to Dannon being forced to pay out over $30 million in damages.
Many other major companies have been taken to court over misleading messages and lies in their campaigns. This begs the question, are the fines and punishments being imposed on organizations for these kind of ethical breaches enough?
In the UK advertising is regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority. The ASA act as watchdog, “regulating the content of advertisements” (ASA, 2014). Having a body such as the ASA should encourage advertisers to be more responsible and trustworthy. Along with the ASA who have the power to ban adverts, Advertisers can also be fined and have their licences revoked by Ofcom. “Ofcom is the ASA’s co-regulatory partner for broadcast ads” (ASA, 2014). The ASA can pass on companies they consider to be “problem broadcasters” (ASA, 2014). Furthermore, there is legislation in place to protect consumers, for example “The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008” (legislation.Gov.Uk, 2008). In essence the act protects against unfair trading practises which includes false advertising.
Advertising to Children
“Over the years the rules designed to protect children have been significantly tightened in response to societal concerns and evidence, for instance about unhealthy diets and underage drinking. Most recently, political concerns have been expressed at the highest level about the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood and the role that advertising may play in that.”(ASA, 2014)
A businesses customers are sometimes not their consumers. This is the case when it comes to children’s products. Although the advertisers are aiming for the parents/adults they really need to catch the attention of the children. Advertising to children even when done reasonably can be considered to unethical. Children are extremely impressionable meaning the messages they receive from adverts leave them vulnerable. This is worsened by the internet age that we now live in, parents have less control over what their children are exposed to. “While parents have always worried about...