It has been clear to us that advertising is the most important tool in the success of a business. Media is one of the biggest or perhaps the biggest factor in influencing people’s lives. Through media, we can convey any information we want using the internet, radio, television and others. It is the most powerful tool of communication these days. Media connects people and it bridges gap and distance. But media not only inform people. Media also influences their way of life.
People spend majority of their time with the exposure to media not knowing that they are subliminally dictated and governed by it.
In short, our lives today are mostly a product of the influence of media. Advertising ethics is clearly articulated in rules providing guidance to advertisers so that they do not abuse the communicative power to influence consumers. Advertising shall tell the truth, and shall reveal significant facts, the omission of which would mislead the public. Advertising claims shall be substantiated by evidence in possession of the advertiser and advertising agency, prior to making such claims.
?Advertising shall refrain from making false, misleading, or unsubstantiated statements or claims about a competitor or his/her products or services.
Advertising shall not offer products or services for sale unless such offer constitutes a bona fide effort to sell the advertising products or services and is not a device to switch consumers to other goods or services, usually higher priced. ?Advertising of guarantees and warranties shall be explicit, with sufficient information to apprise consumers of their principal terms and limitations or, when space or time restrictions preclude such disclosures, the advertisement should clearly reveal where the full text of the guarantee or warranty can be examined before purchase.
Advertising shall avoid price claims which are false or misleading, or saving claims which do not offer provable savings. ?Advertising containing testimonials shall be limited to those of competent witnesses who are reflecting a real and honest opinion or experience. Advertising shall be free of statements, illustrations or implications which are offensive to good taste or public decency. *Adopted by the American Advertising Federation Board of Directors, March 2, 1984, San Antonio, Texas. It is also an unquestionable fact that big businesses put large sum of money in advertising for the advancement of their products.
In America, in 2003, tobacco companies spent a total of $15. 15 billion or more than $34 million a day to promote, market and advertise their products. This is the most ever reported. This is a significant increase in terms of the expenditures of cigarette companies on advertisement. The Philip Morris in 1999 even launched a new campaign targeting women, particularly minority women, with the slogan “Find Your Voice” that cost $40 million. This is only one of many facts that companies are willing to spend big amounts for the advertisement of their company and products.
Given the willingness of big businesses to put large amount of money for advertisement, this fact slowly degrades advertising ethics. Independent advertising bodies are most likely enticed by the big amount of money that a company is willing to spend. Blinded with money, advertising agencies don’t look at the product to be endorsed itself. They just focus on the amount of money their office will receive. Most agencies don’t care anymore if the product they will advertise really gives benefits to the consumers. They are not after of the truth behind the product’s performance.
What is important for them is to be paid and to be paid big time. For some companies that advertise their own products, still, most of them don’t also care for the welfare of their costumers. All they are up to is the profit that can be made through advertising their own product. Some companies even deceive people in their advertisements just to profit big. Indeed, the tempting value of money is very powerful. As we look at the business world today, there are a lot of advertising cases being filed to different companies.
Some of these cases are the Italy’s Alitalia Airlines for misleading consumers with an advert on round-trip flight fares showing only the one-way ticket cost, Rexall Sundown Inc. for an alleged false and unsubstantiated claims that its dietary supplement, Cellasene, would reduce or eliminate cellulite and USA Pharmacal Inc. for alleged false and unsubstantiated efficacy and safety claims for weight loss products, “Fat Sponge in a Pill” and “Calotrol/MD”, one, “Meta-Biological” containing ephedra, and for a product for erectile dysfunction, “Virile V” containing androgen and yohimbe.
These cases are only a little picture of the deception in advertising. These cases are only a parcel of a giant reality that eats the advertising world, a reality that no person would dream of but it is there right in front of all of us. Indeed, the advertising ethics in our time is deteriorating. Most advertisements now do not preach truth. Most testimonies regarding any product are scripted. Moreover, many advertisements only corrupt the minds of the people specially the youth and the children. This is due to the fact that money offered by big businesses becomes the criteria of advertising. Consumer welfare has been undermined.