Advertising vs. Ethics Essay

Advertising vs. Ethics Essay

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Can advertisements, one of the most visibly and financially impactful aspects of the public’s daily life, ever truly be ethical? Advertising cannot fully withstand morally because it is deceptively based with misleading tactics, is harmful to children, and is a possible reversal of movements toward a more “green” environment. The definition of false advertising, along with the deceptions used to implement it, supplement the basis of this theory. Statistics regarding the nation’s youths and concerns for the environment are further influences in the argument of right versus wrong and good versus bad in relation to advertising and ethics. Supporters of advertising may beg to differ, but completely ethical advertisements are unattainable.
Deceptive advertising, also known as false advertising, is the implementation of misleading information in advertisements. With the capability of persuading people into commercial transactions that otherwise would not have occurred, advertising must be regulated by governments around the world so as not to be deceptive, false, or misleading. For example, in 1914 the United States created the Federal Trade Commission as an antitrust weapon. Consumers have the right to know what they are purchasing, and that all necessary information is provided. Furthermore, the Federal Trade Commission’s mandate was extended to include protecting customers against deceptive advertising and fraudulent commercial practices. Originally the Federal Trade Commission used the reasonable-consumer standard, meaning, “it would prohibit only advertising claims that would deceiving reasonable people” (Shaw and Barry). Begging the question of who is reasonable and who is not? Then the 1937 Federal Trade Commission vs...


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... facts, exaggeration, puffery, and psychological appeal, are based solely on unethical grounds. Furthermore, children, as well as the environment, are too susceptible to these intentionally false and misleading deceptions for advertising to be considered truly ethical. Pareto optimality states that no one person can be made better-off without making someone else worse-off. Advertisements are best when deceiving their audiences, thus they cannot be truly ethical.



Works Cited

“Greenwashing.” Stop Greenwash. Greenpeace. Web. 09 December 2013.
O'Barr, William M. “Children and Advertising.” Project MUSE. The Advertising Educational Foundation, Inc. Web. 09 December 2013.
Shaw, William H., and Vincent E. Barry. Moral Issues in Business. Belmont (CA): Wadsworth, 1998. Print.

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