Advertising Ethics, Truth and Lies

Lies: false statements intended to deceive; untruths; falsehoods.
Ad traps: legally true words intended to deceive for purpose of gain.

Consumers beware the words of advertising.

Commerce is a mainstay of our society today allowing us the basic necessities in life, and a standard of living much above that, for those of us who are fortunate. Advertising is the fuel used to keep this machine running; it increases sales and profits, creating more jobs and a healthier economy in the process. But something has run amok with the general expansion of business, its use of marketing and the consequences we are faced with.

The very widespread and excessively intense marketing in our daily lives has convinced us to strive harder to accumulate more, bigger, better and newer things; things our friends and neighbors might also have or are themselves striving to acquire. Perhaps our programmed desires to catch up have extended to where we now wish to be in the lead with owning newer objects or the latest designs or devices. It is a never ending race around the commerce-consumption circle.

Yet surely, someday, society will have had enough of this. If not, then imagine.

The main purpose of advertising was once the introduction of something new, or of some valuable improvement to an existing service or product. This has changed drastically and today's ads are there mainly to convince consumers to buy this from one seller rather than that from another, or to buy when there is not a need to buy at all. It consistently applies mind capturing pressures to convince of the necessity to own.

There has been an escalating and prolonged competition between companies doing business with their many products and varieties. The fight to get the consumer has become quite fierce - towards the shopper. In trying to outdo each other, commercial advertising has been expanded in frequency, ingenuity, intensity, and shrewdness. In recent years misleading ads have become quite common in merchandising.

It is discouraging to see what some of the industry has become ethically, and how they are treating families and society in general. Business is overpowering consumers and looking to the future by attracting children to their wares with toys, tasteless commercials and shock appeal. The big players are showing how it's done professionally and successfully with expanding global profits. Unfortunately there are increasing adverse effects on our physical and mental well being and the lowering of our social values in the process.

Particularly upsetting is the lack of basic honesty and goodwill of many companies. The reckless and competitive use of advertising is degrading the standard business ethic, and dragging citizens along by the nose. Sure there are some regulations that require certain standards but they are often week and not well enforced. Governments don't seem to care all that much as long as the economy continues to grow.

Advertising associations don't help much either, their guidelines are only 'guidelines' and they are not consumer associations. Companies do not usually criticize their peers for questionable behavior, not when they too are using the same cunning and deceitful marketing strategies successfully. And so the ethic of an entire industry will sink further.

Consumers may not get all that excited because unscrupulous dealings are so common, and they have become accustomed to bad treatment in their shopping ordeals. They may grumble and try to be smarter and more careful to not allow this to happen again. But it does as the shrewd marketers are always one step ahead with slick new ideas.

This trend towards doing business in a less honest and kindly manner is very costly to society and creates social tensions. In the desire for citizens to acquire more of what is unnecessary, so much is taken from the good life. And the wasteful use of our precious natural resources produces mountains of junk at such a great cost.

Considering that excessive advertising promotes artificial social characteristics and is so destructive to the environment, why isn't there more noise from citizens? Without more concern and complaints from the people, there is little possibility for effective, positive social change. Corporations will continue to run the show, their ethic will decline further, and so will our quality of living.

Should free enterprise be this free?

What is the difference between unethical and ethical advertising?
Unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public;
ethical advertising uses truth to deceive the public. - Vilhjalmur Stefansson

Related posts
* You may excerpt this post but please link back. Bookmark or share it also, if you wish.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button