Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ethical Advertising?

Gretchen Raque


The interesting aspect of advertising is the line between ethics and promotions. When sponsorships first became popular with celebrities and public figures it was easy to become ‘the marketers dream.’ However, as sponsorships have continued in advertising they have evolved even further. Now, anyone can advocate a product and some companies will pay nearly anyone, i.e. moms, teens, etc., simply to weave their product into the advocators personal social media outlets. Though I know it is unethical, if someone were to offer me a million dollars or even enough to pay off my college loans I would think long and hard about advocating their product.

One article mentions that the public responds so well to celebrity and even the average mom tweeting or blogging because they make the experience personal. This is a basic idea within advertising—the brand wants to relate to its consumer on a personal level to make them feel comfortable and at ease. When one mom can relate to the same mom endorsing a certain product she will be more likely to purchase it. Advertisers realize this.

The distinguishing factor though, is whether or not the advocators truly stand behind the product or if they simply want the money. Many product endorsements are true testimonials. The trouble is, none of the ads reveal how much each spokesperson was paid. The average consumer can rarely identify an editorialized ad.

So where does this leave advertising? Are the messages deceptive or honest? Is making a personal connection to one’s consumer really unethical? Social media has brought about new advertising practices that leave traditional in question. I believe that as long as an advertisement blatantly claims to be endorsed by whomever the spokesperson, blogger, tweeter, etc. may be it is the consumer’s responsibility to realize that. As advanced as media and society as a whole is at this point, one can depend on advertisements to be honest but they are also meant to be effective so the spokespeople chosen will be selected in such a way that it may not make a difference how much they were paid because the audience can still relate to the ad.

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