Social implications of advertising
The central issues of advertising and society can be divided into three categories. The first is nature and content of
the advertising to which people are exposed.
v Is advertising inherently unethical:?
v Are appeals used to manipulate consumers against their will?
v Is advertising too repetitious?
v Is it too preoccupied with sex?
There is also the question about the fairness of advertising to children.
The second category represents the aggregate effects on society as a whole. It refers to the secondary
What is the effect on society's values and lifestyles? Some believe that advertising competes with or dominates
such other socialization agents as literature, plays, music, the home and the school. That it fosters materialism at
the expense of other basic values. That it may serve to reinforce racial discrimination or that it promotes harmful
The third category is the effect advertising has on society's economic well-being and the efficiency of the operation
of the economic system. Can the power of advertising lead to the control of the market by a few firms, which will
weaken competition and raise consumer prices?
Is alcohol and cigarette advertising ethical? These advertising are now banned in India. A much wider range of
ethical issues and concerns are now being addressed as packaging, professional services ads by physicians,
attorneys, accountants and emerging social issues about environmental or green marketing.
There is considerable overlap between what many consider to be ethical issues and the issues of manipulation,
taste and advertising's effects on values and lifestyles
Does advertising manipulate? The essence of a free marketplace and a free society is the freedom to make
decisions to select or not select a particular brand. Some feel this freedom is overpowered by advertising which
can manipulate a buyer making a decision against his or her will. When advertising utilizes appeals that go
beyond a basic communication the charge of manipulation via emotional appeals is raised. The implication is that
with emotional appeals the consumers will make less than optimal decisions. A typical theme running through
these commercials is to hold the brand out as the pathway to success and happiness and the antidote to what is
otherwise a drab, boring or lonely life. Dishwashing liquids are advertised as sweeping away the dullness of life.
Bath soaps have rejuvenating capacity and so on. These observations are related to issues of deception.
There is also a general claim that advertisers have the raw power to manipulate consumers by their capacity to
generate large numbers of ad exposures and highly sophisticated scientific techniques to make ads effective.
However the fact remains that consumer choice behaviour is determined by many factors in addition to advertisingthe advice of friends, decisions and lifestyles of family members news stories, prices and so on. Advertising is but
one of many variables and it has a limited role.
Some feel that advertising is objectionable because the4 creative effort behind is not in good taste.
Some feel that television advertising is often like a visitor who has overstayed his welcome.
Advertising to children has been a major focus and concern for many years. It is said that children between 2 to 11
spend about 25 hours a week watching television and see approx 20,000 ads per year.
Ads presumably have an effect on what people buy and on their activities. It has an impact on the values and
lifestyles of society and that this impact has its negative as well as positive side.
• • appeals to mass markets tend to promote conformity
• • appeals to status...
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