Monday, October 30, 2017

Decision Making In Ads and the Golden Rule

Elizabeth Raber


Advertising, when used to its full potential with honest intentions, is good in nature. It tells an audience about new products and promotions—ultimately satisfying a customers wants or needs. Advertising also serves an important role in funding newspapers, websites, television and news outlets. 

But what happens when advertisers don't tell the truth? What happens when marketers embellish products? What happens when a PR firm spins the truth until there is little to no fact?

Being honest and transparent with an ad is one of the most important things a brand can do, because if not, it tarnishes the brand by lying to its consumers and acting with poor ethical practices. Ethical ad dilemmas can happen in an array of situations. One for example is the dishonesty with food advertising. Is it important for McDonalds to advertise a sale on the Big Mac? Sure. Is it important to use a blow torch, a branding iron and some shoe polish to make the food look better in an advertisement than what you get at the drive-thru? I don't think so. 


In today's advertising climate, I think companies are generally getting better about being more honest and ethical in their campaigns. For example, companies are improving their honest messaging instead of hiding the fact that smoking is bad for you in the 1950's and 60's. But there are still companies that try to embellish their products. For example, POM just recently finish a case about false advertising with the FTC about falsely claiming pomegranate juice improves heart decease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction. 

So how can companies try and stay more honest in their advertising? Be honest. Have the studies to back your claims up, present the product as it's presented in your stores and be transparent with what goes into the ad.

The Federal Trade Commission has a whole pledge to keep deceptive advertising out of the lives of people who consume the media. 2017 is currently the home of 22 cases of fraud and deception. 

What new professionals need to know: Treat your audience how you would want to be treated. 
The Golden Rule: Not only do you have your clients credibility on the line, you also have to realize where your ethics lie. Making immoral decisions could cost you your job and reputation. 

Casting has to be honest. Product photography has to be honest. Messaging has to be honest. Product placement has to be honest. 

The final step to understanding the effects of your ad: run focus groups and conduct research. Perspective is important to think about when you make a campaign—15% of people will find something objectionable in an ad. 

At the end of the day, advertisements should enhance your credibility, not destroy it. Advertisements should serve the purpose of filling a want or need, not altering the perception of your company because you didn't weigh all the possibilities of misconception. Consumers of the media are just as smart as the professionals who make the commercials—don't try and trick the people who can break your reputation. 

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