Научная статья на тему 'The dangers in advertising analysis. The problem of false deceptive and the need of ethical advertising'

The dangers in advertising analysis. The problem of false deceptive and the need of ethical advertising Текст научной статьи по специальности «Философия, этика, религиоведение»

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Ключевые слова
РЕКЛАМА / ОБМАН / ЭТИКА / ИЗМЕНЕНИЕ / УСПЕХ / ADVERTISING / DECEPTION / ETHICS / CHANGE / SUCCESS

Аннотация научной статьи по философии, этике, религиоведению, автор научной работы — Carlos M. Garcia Pinheiro, Isabel Mariano Ribeiro

Advertising pervades our lives. It is impossible to read a newspaper or magazine, watch a television show, or travel the streets of our cities without being bombarded by commercial messages. Although some ads may be irritating or offensive, we also derive benefit from the information that’s given about products and from the boost that advertising gives to the economy as a whole. One the other side of the fence, companies with products or services to sell regard advertising as a valuable and indeed indispensable marking tool. Advertising is a large and essential part of the way we do business. And because of that it is important that we delve into the question of deceptive advertising, false deception and ethics in advertising.

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Текст научной работы на тему «The dangers in advertising analysis. The problem of false deceptive and the need of ethical advertising»

I. СОВРЕМЕННЫЕ ПРОБЛЕМЫ РЕКЛАМНОЙ ДЕЯТЕЛЬНОСТИ

THE DANGERS IN ADVERTISING ANALYSIS. THE PROBLEM OF FALSE DECEPTIVE AND THE NEED OF ETHICAL ADVERTISING

Carlos M. Garcia Pinheiro*, Isabel Mariano Ribeiro**

*Grey Lisbon **Centro de Historia da Cultura, FCSH-UNL

Реклама проникает в нашу жизнь. Реклама постоянно «бомбардирует» нас во время чтения газеты или журнала, просмотра телевизионного шоу, прогулки по улицам городов. Несмотря на то, что некоторые рекламные объявления могут вызывать раздражение или быть оскорбительными, мы извлекаем выгоду из информации о продуктах, а также того, что рекламные технологии дают экономике в целом. С другой стороны, компании, продвигающие товары или услугами, рассматривают рекламу как важный и необходимый инструмент маркетинга. Реклама является важной частью того, чем мы занимаемся. И по этой причине мы углубляемся в вопросы обманчивой рекламы, обмана и этики рекламы.

Ключевые слова: реклама, обман, этика, изменение, успех.

Advertising pervades our lives. It is impossible to read a newspaper or magazine, watch a television show, or travel the streets of our cities without being bombarded by commercial messages. Although some ads may be irritating or offensive, we also derive benefit from the information that’s given about products and from the boost that advertising gives to the economy as a whole. One the other side of the fence, companies with products or services to sell regard advertising as a val-

uable and indeed indispensable marking tool. Advertising is a large and essential part of the way we do business. And because of that it is important that we delve into the question of deceptive advertising, false deception and ethics in advertising.

Keywords: advertising, deception, ethics, change, success.

DEFINITION - WHAT IS ADVERTISING?

Advertising is a paid, non-personal communication about an organization and/or its products that is transmitted to a target audience through a mass medium.

Advertising is also used to “sell” ideas, attitudes and behavior in order to benefit the targeted individuals and society generally. This kind of advertising on behalf of better health, environmental protection, and the like is called social marketing.

THE PROBLEM WITH ADVERTISING

Advertising is widely criticized for its exaggerated claims and out-rights falsehoods. These two are closely followed by the lack of taste, irritating repetition, and offensive character. Most recently, questions have been raised about the morality of specific kinds of advertising, such as advertising for alcohol and tobacco products as well as ads specifically aimed at children and the use of children to promote products that do not relate directly to them. Particular ads are also faulted for their use of excessive sex or violence or for presenting negative stereotypes of certain groups. Other criticisms are about the role advertising plays in creating a culture of consumerism, stating that advertising encourages people not only to buy more but also to believe that their most basic needs and desires can be satisfied by products. Finally, there is great concern about the potential of advertising for behavior control. These objections to advertising have led to calls for government regulations and industry self-regulation.

Advertising is generally controlled by public opinion, to which advertisers must pay head. Particularly offensive ads for example, usually draw critical attention and then are quickly taken off air.

DEFINITION - WHAT IS DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING:

Roughly, an advertisement is deceptive if it has a tendency to deceive. On this definition, the deceptiveness of an ad does not depend solely on the truth or falsity of the claims it makes, but also on the impact the ad has on the people who see or hear it. It is possible for advertising to contain false claims without being deceptive and for advertising to be deceptive without containing any false claims.

THE DANGER OF ANALYSIS - FALSE DECEPTION

But we have to be careful when analyzing ads, since the language of advertising is made of exaggerations, metaphors, hyperbole and other linguistic hooks that make advertising particularly difficult to read as black and white. For example, a patently false claim for a hair restorer might not actually deceive anyone and advertisers have learned how to toy with the idea that advertising in itself is always a vessel for lying, so they use false claims that are easily understood as mere jokes about the industry itself - of course that the joke is made in order to sell a product. Furthermore, there are other advertising claims that are false if taken literally but are commonly regarded as harmless exaggerations. Every razor blade for example, gives the closest, most comfortable shave; and every pain reliever, the quickest, gentlest relief.

As we can see deception must overcome several obstacles: First, we need to consider whether the deception is due to the ad or the person perceiving the ad. Is an ad deceptive if it creates a false belief in relatively few rather ignorant consumers or only if it would deceive more numerous reasonable consumers? For example: a consumer who failed to catch the joke in an ad for a novelty beer - that proclaimed to be the only beer with the foam at the bottom - and was out regard to discover that the foam was on the top, just like all other beers; or the case when a hair dye brand advertised in the 40’s that its dye would “color hair permanently”. Of course that these are exaggerations created to give an edge to the product, engage the consumer and that assume that the audience will not take them literally and by overcoming them, can, in fact,

get to know the product a little bit better than before. There can be a gain of information even in these types of ads.

Second and most important, an ad may not actually create a false belief but merely take advantage of people’s ignorance. Consider health claims in food advertising the word “natural” which usually means the absence of artificial ingredients, evokes images of wholesomeness in the minds of consumers. But what we now know is that even if there’s little to no artificial ingredients, sugar and caramel in children’s cereal for example has almost tripled since the 60’s. It can be natural but it’s not really that good for you. But is this ad a form of deception? And if so, why is it deception? Should a manufacturer state that there has been an increase in the amount of sugar it puts in the cereal? Since the quantities are placed in the box, we don’t see why the brand should have to place it anywhere else. And to us this raises the question about the ethics of advertising.

In order to begin to answer this last question we first need to know what the word ethics stands for and if it still retains the same meaning within the realm of advertising.

Ethics is the modern translation of the Greek “ethikos”, a word that comes from the ancient word “ethos” meaning “character” or “manners”. In a general sense, ethics are moral principles and values that govern the actions and decisions of an individual or a group of individuals. There have been many definitions but within the modern world we can define ethics, as Prof. Geofferey Klempner states in his essay The Ethics of Dialogue (1998), as an “I-Thou relationship”, meaning:

When I engage another person in moral dialogue, there are not two parallel processes of practical deliberation going on, his and mine, but only one. In opening myself up and addressing the other as a thou I am already committed to the practical consequences of agreement, of doing the action which, by the combined light of his valuational perspective and mine is seen as the thing to be done.

This raises an interesting problem. We believe that this definition is the one that’s assumed by the consumer and that it’s because of it that there is so much deception and false deception within the dialogue be-

tween advertisers and consumers - and the same can be said about politicians and the people, but that’s another story.

Advertisers hope to create with their ads small spaces of dialogues between a brand (its product) and a consumer, but in opening this lines of dialogue the advertiser is also opening a line that enables him to seduce and guide the consumer - that’s a given. What isn’t in accord to the definition of ethics within a dialogue as stated above is that within this particular kind of dialogue (the ad) one of the parts already is privately deliberating on how to gain the upper hand. The advertiser already knows (within the scope of his research) what kind of commitment he can expect from the targeted consumer about his message or brand. Ultimately he, the advertiser, wants to sell him something and expects him, the consumer, to buy that something. So when we see an ad we are taking part in a rigged dialogue, ethically speaking.

Does this mean that advertising is unethical by nature? We think not. What we do know is that the common rules are easily bent within the realm of advertising and for that we don’t need to make up new laws, since it’s well established that an ad can be legit (legally speaking) but unethical at the same time. What we do need are new guidelines, new ethics for the future. One that encapsulates the twists and turns of technology and that can shed some light upon the new world that’s coming faster than we ever expected.

REFERENCES

1. BROCHAND, Bernard; LENDREVIE, Jacques; RODRIGUES, Joaquim Vicente; DIONÍSIO, Pedro, Publicitor, 1° ed., col. «Gestao&Inova?ao», 10, Publica?oes Dom Quixote, Lisboa, 1999.

2. CENECO. 1996. Dicionário de Marketing, [Original title.Dixecodu marketing et de la vente]. Lisboa: Instituto Piaget.

3. DANIELS, Caroline N. 1997. Estratégias Empresariais e Tecnologias de Informagao, «E.I.U -

TheEconomistIntelligenceUnit», col. «Biblioteca de Economia e Gestao». Lisboa: Caminho.

4. GLADWEL, Malcom. 2006. Blink - The power of thinking without thinking. London: Penguin.

5. KLEMPNER, Geoffrey, 1998. The Ethics of Dialogue. Shap Conference, Philosophical Society of England, Cumbria 26 February 1998.

6. KOTLER, Philip. 2004. Os 10 pecados mortais do Marketing. Causa, síntomas e soluçoes. [Original title: TenDeadly Marketing Sins]. Sao Paulo, Brasil: Editora Campus (Elsevier).

7. LAMBIN, Jean-Jacques. 2000. Marketing Estratégico [Original title: Le Marketing Stratégique, 4a ed.Amadora: McGraw-Hill.

8. SULLIVAN, Luke. 2008. Hey Whipple, Squeeze This (Third Edition). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

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