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Country Vol

Country Vol

Advertising – Precious Information or Vicious Manipulation?

Advertising is the ultimate means to inform and assist us in our daily decisions or is it just too powerful form of mass deception used by companies to persuade their prospects and customers to buy products and services they do not need? Consumers in the global village are exposed to the increase in advertising expenditures and for advertising is increasing accordingly.

It will not be an exaggeration if we conclude that we are "soaked in the rain cultural Marketing Communications television, press, cinema, internet, etc. (Hackley and Kitchen, 1999). But if thirty years ago the marketing communication tools have been used primarily as a product-based tactical means, maintaining the mixture of promotion and advertising in particular focuses on signs and semiotics. Some argue that the marketing efforts "are finally" turning the economy so that the symbol that means something to the consumer "(Williamson, quoted in Anonymous, Marketing Communications, 2006: 569). An important consequence is that most contemporary ads "are selling us ourselves "(ibid.)

The above process is influenced by the commoditization of products and the blurring of consumer perceptions of the supply companies. In order to differentiate and position their products / services companies today use advertising that is sometimes considered not only bad taste, but also deliberately intrusive and manipulative. The issue of bad publicity is topical to the extent that organizations like Adbusters have adopted the tactics of subversion – revealing the true intention behind the modern advertising. Adbusters Magazine editor Kalle Lason commented on the activities of communication corporate image building of large enterprises: "We know that oil companies do are not really friendly to nature, and the tobacco companies do not really care about ethics "(Arnold, 2001). On the other hand, " ethics and social responsibility are important determinants of these gains long-term survival, long-term profitability and competitiveness the organization "(Singhapakdi, 1999). Without communication strategy that revolves around the ethics and social responsibility concepts of total quality and customer relationship building become elusive. However, there may be no easy formula for clear ethical marketing communications.

PUBLICITY – INFORMATION Precious Or vicious manipulation?

To get an overview of consumer perception on the role of advertising, we have examined a number of articles and conducted four in-depth interviews. A number of research papers reach opposite conclusions. These differ from those declaring that "the ethical conduct of an enterprise is an important factor in purchasing decisions" and that consumers "Reward ethical behavior of a willingness to pay higher prices for this product enterprise" (CREI and Ross Jr., 1997) the other stressing that "while consumers may express a willingness to support business enterprises ethical, unethical and punishment, their buying behavior is often affected by real ethical problems "and that" the price, quality and value outweigh criteria ethical purchasing behavior of consumers (Carrigan and Attalla, 2001). Focusing on advertising as a marketing communication Most important, we have constructed and conducted an interview consisting of four themes and nine questions. The conceptual framework of this paper is built on these four themes.

Theme I. Ethics in Advertising

The first theme consists of two introductory questions on ethics in advertising in general.

IA How would you define ethics in advertising?

The term business ethics consists of "ethics, organizational ethics and professional ethics" (Isaac, quoted in Bergadaa, 2007). Each industry has its own guidelines for the ethical requirements. However, the four main requirements for marketing communications should be legal, decent, honest and sincere. Unfortunately, in a society where the share price of firms is determined by profit targets for the use of marketing communication messages "may constitute a form of social pollution by potentially adverse effects and unintended it may have on the decision taken for consumption "(Hackley and Kitchen, 1999).

One interviewee said that "the most successful companies do no need for ethics in their activities because they have built empires. "Another view is that" sooner or later, whoever is unethical will face negative consequences. "

IB What is your perception of the importance of ethics in advertising?

The second question concerns the importance of moral being to communicate with / to your target audiences and how the consumers / customers see. In various research papers, we found quite opposite conclusions. Business ethics seems to be evaluated as very important in the decision process or not really a factor in this process. An example is rather extreme position that "catastrophe awaits any brand acting with cynicism "(Odell, 2007).

This may seem obvious that the responsibility must be made by the advertiser, because "his is the key responsibility in maintaining clean and decent advertising "(Bernstein, 1951). On the other hand the actions of firms are defined by "the canons of social responsibility and good taste" (ibid.). One interviewee said:

"The only responsibility to publicize a decent profit, which in the end. Corporate profits should not be to the detriment of society. "

Another said that "our culture and the level of awareness of society to determine the good and bad in advertising."

The increased importance of ethics in marketing communications is highlighted by the need to apply more dialogue, two-way communication methods. The "demassification technologies have the potential to facilitate" dialogue, but the monologue "attitude is still the predominates (Botan, 1997). Arnold (2001) highlights the case of Monsanto and Esso had to pay "a price for his] their [one-way communication strategy ". In this vein, we can consider ethics in advertising from two different perspectives, as suggested by our respondents and the different points of view in the journal papers. The first is that it is imperative to have a common code of conduct imposed by law. The other affirms the independence and responsibility of each industry to set its own standards.

Theme II. What type of settlement must be the leader in the field of advertising?

The next theme directs attention to the regulatory system that should Be the first. Widely accepted opinion is that both self-regulation and legal control should work in synergy. In other words, the codes of practice are intended to supplement laws. However, in some countries there is a strengthening of legal controls on advertising, for example in Scandinavia. On the other hand the self Industry is preferred in the Anglo-Saxon. Yet not everyone agrees with the laissez-faire concept.

One of our respondents said:

"I think governments should impose strict legal framework and harsher penalties for companies that do not respect the law. "

Needless to say that the social acceptability varies from one culture / country to another. At the end of the day "good or bad taste is largely a matter of time, place, and the individual "(Bernstein, 1951). It would also probably be impossible to clear the detailed rules in the era of the Internet and interactive TV. Therefore, both types of regulation should be applied with the ultimate goal of achieving a balance between the sacred right of freedom of choice and information and to minimize any widespread violations. In other words, the goal is to synchronize the various "ethical framework" marketing and "others in society to bridge the gap" ethical " (Hunt and Vitelli, 2006).

Theme III. Content ads.

The most controversial issue in the field of marketing communication is the content advertisements. Nwachukwu et al. (1997) distinguish three areas of interest in terms of ethical judgments of the ads: "individual autonomy, sovereignty the consumer and the nature of the product. "Individual autonomy is concerned with advertising to children. The sovereignty of consumers dealing with the level of knowledge and sophistication of the audience while the advertisements for the products are harmful in the center of public opinion for a long period. We have added two more points of view to arrive at five questions during interviews. The first concerns the advertising that involve a sense of guilt and wealth than the praise most cases can not be achieved and the second is on the advertisements to stimulate the desire and satisfaction through the acquisition of property materials.

III.A. What is your attitude toward the advertising of harmful products?

A typical example is the advertising of cigarettes. Today we can not see slogans like "Camel is in agreement with Your Throat" (chickenhead, accessed 25th September 2007) or "Chesterfield - Pleasure Packs More - because it is perfectly packaged "(chickenhead, accessed 25th September 2007). General advertising, sponsorship and other marketing communications are already prohibited for use by producers of cigarettes. Surprisingly, most responses respondents were not against advertising cigarettes. One respondent said:

"People are well informed about the consequences Smoking is therefore a matter of personal choice. "

Like many other contemporary products moving messages for communications cigarettes is oriented towards the symbol and image building. The same can be said for alcohol advertising. A familiar example Emotional advertising is the Absolut Vodka campaign. Absolut Nectar by Absolut Absolut World Fantasy of the drink is actually Swedish Absolut ... Everything.

The advertising of dangerous products is even more severely criticized when he addresses an audience with a low individual autonomy, ie children. Two main issues in this regard are the manipulation of cigarettes and alcohol as a "rite of passage to adulthood" and that " sales of unsafe health products (alcohol, cigarettes) to develop freely, without much disapproval "(Bergadaa, 2007).

III.B. What is your attitude towards advertising to children?

Children are not only customers but also consumers, prescribers and users in the family decision-making (ADI). additional difficulty is that they are too impressionable to be decision makers in the DMU. At the same time, it is no secret that retailers apply "the same basic strategy of trying to sell the parent company through the insistence of the child in the purchase "(Bernstein, 1951). It is no surprise then that "advertising expenditure children has increased fivefold over the last ten years and two thirds of advertising during TV programs are for children food (Bergadaa 2007). In children the United States alone represent a market of direct purchases of $ 24 billion (McNeal cited in Bergadaa, 2007) which is certainly high on the agenda of many companies. Although the exploitation of children advertisers immature decision making often go too far in the dematerialization of their products and "children of teleportation and tangible in the virtual world of brand names" (Bergadaa 2007). virtual worlds like Habbo Teenage where snack brands advertising campaigns are already a reality of life (Goldie, 2007). The worlds of imagination are popular not only online. A huge success in creating a fantasy world is Mc Donald's. The company tops the European list Advertisers children while more than half of children are Ads for junk food.

In some countries, there are more restrictions on advertising to children.

• "Sweden and Norway do not allow television advertising to be directed to children under 12 and no ads at all are allowed during children's programs.
• Australia does not allow advertising for programs for preschool children.
• Austria does not allow advertising during children's programs, and in the region Flemish no advertising is allowed 5 minutes before or after the programs for children.
• Mentoring programs for children is not permitted in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, while in Germany and the Netherlands, even if it is allowed, it is not used in practice. "(McSpotlight, accessed 20th September 2007).

According to research by Roberts and Pettigrew (2007) the most frequent themes children in advertising is "grazing, the denigration of staple foods, health claims exaggerated, and the implied capacity certain foods in order to increase the popularity, performance and mood. "But junk food is not the only reason for concern of parents. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (Dolliver, 2007) parents are concerned about the amount of advertising of the following (In order of importance): toys, video games, clothing, liquor and beer, movies, etc.

Respondents are unanimous: "The advertising aimed at children should be strictly controlled. "Similar results were obtained in investigations by the reports Rasmussen and the Kaiser Family Foundation. Nevertheless, the legal means are only part of the protection of children. The other part is "the responsibility decision making of parents and teachers "who is" to help their children develop a skeptical attitude to information in advertising (Bergadaa 2007). Shopkeepers themselves should also be involved in shaping the moral system of our future and "each brand must have its own ethics - a code of practice relating to children - rather than relying on industry codes "(Horgan, 2007).

III.C. Do you think there is much confusion, exaggerating and confusing ads. The ads promising many things that are impossible to achieve?

It will not be an exaggeration to say that advertising is in a sense "salesmanship addressed to masses of potential buyers rather than a buyer at a time "(Bernstein, 1951). Since "art of selling itself is persuasion" (ibid.), we can not simply blame the advertisers for further their sales targets. However, in the last twenty years advertisers have increasingly applied semiotics in their messages and ads accordingly began to function more as symbols. An extreme case in this flow of advertising is to create an idealized image of a person who uses the advertised product. Bishop (2000) draws our attention to two "typical representatives of the self-identity image ads" that attract consumers projecting respective images to themselves by the use of products:

- "La Belle Dame";
- "Sexy Teenagers.

Thanks to the advertisers of such stereotypes not only mislead the public and to exaggerate the effects of products, but also cause low self self among consumers. At the same time, they promise results that in most cases are simply impossible to achieve. Instead of promoting "glamorous" pictures of anorexic body 'communication messages should use "a variety of body types" and should abandon the idea of the impossible " images of the physical body "(Bishop, 2000).

Asked III.C one respondent commented:

"Customers of these products [Announced by the] models are thin for most people who have different physical characteristics. For me, this type of advertising is deliberately oriented people to feel finished, far from attractive to outside society. "

However, another questioned stated that: "Everyone has their own way of assessing what is credible and what is misleading. Consumers are sophisticated enough to know what is exaggerated. "

Similarly, Bishop (2000) concludes that "the ads are not false or misleading "and" whether or not the advocate false values is a matter of subjective reflection. "The author argues that the ads shown not to interfere with our internal self and if people are misled because they want to. It is our choice behavior and no amount of advertising can change our desires. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere between the two extreme positions.

III.D. What is your attitude toward advertising that implies a sense of guilt, and praise the wealth in most cases, can be achieved?

A more specific case of controversial advertising is used to "Indulgence promote not so obvious that the self-doubt and one who" seeks to create needs, not to fulfill: to generate new anxieties instead of allaying old "(Hackley and Kitchen, 1999). A response our interlocutor reads as follows:

"This is not just about advertising. It has to do with social inequality and the desire to possess what you can not. "

Hackley and Kitchen (1999) refer to this discrepancy as to "when the reality does not match the image of wealth and the result is a subjective sensation of dissonance. The question could be developed further in the matter follows.

III.E. Are advertisements stimulate the desire and satisfaction through the acquisition of material goods morale?

We live in a society is more or less marked by materialism. The ads are often blamed for the fuel which is to be a source of happiness. Role Promotion of satisfaction with the acquisition of material goods has become so important that at present the "media products are characterized by relativism, irony, self-referentiality and hedonism "(Hackley and Kitchen, 1999). Is popular saying that "those who die with the most toys win 'really a motivating factor in consumer behavior and consumption could be cure for emotional dissonance? This seems to be the case provided a successful brand to enter the evoked set of choices for consumers. This new 'Kind of materialism "goes with" the emergence of individualism and hedonism with pure narcissism and selfishness " (Bergadaa 2007).

TOPIC IV. Is the amount of advertisements it justified?

IV.A. Do you think it is too much advertising?

An audit of food advertising to children in Australia by Roberts and Pettigrew (2007) revealed that "28.5 hours of programming television for children in the sample contained 950 reports. "In fact, we are all bombarded by advertisements on television, Internet, newspapers, etc. The amount and content of marketing communication messages is the ability of the consumer information processing to a test. Exposure marketing data overload often leads to a selective perception of consumers is diluted. Our responses are limited by "the confusion, existential despair, and loss of moral identity "or we" adapt constructively to the statement [] Leviathan and become intelligent cynical, Streetwise "(Hackley and Kitchen, 1999) is an open question in the debate.

Two opposing attitudes flows were produced in our research. A position is concerned about the excessive amount of advertising. The other current proclaims that "If there is an advertisement, it is therefore justified by a need. "We agree that the overhead of communication may indeed have" multiple effects on the social ecology of the developed world "(Hackley and Kitchen, 1999). If the pollution to enhance communication is not handled correctly by both legal issues and industry view again advertising will manage "to lift his feet to his own mouth and kicked a couple of his teeth before him" (Bernstein, 1951).


In preparing this document, we used depth qualitative interviews to gain insight regarding nods real customers. We also have our presentation supported by references to a number of influential papers in the field of ethics in marketing communications. In general, our respondents as well as various authors have taken opposing positions. The first states that ethics in the marketing communications matters considerably, while the other downsizes the importance of ethics, emphasizing the role of other factors in the decision making of consumers, ie price, brand loyalty, comfort, etc.

Marketers should understand their "responsibility for the emerging portrait of future society" (Bergadaa 2007). Not only is it necessary to frame legal ethics, but also professional and ethical standards of conduct should be in place. One of the main challenges is to avoid creating "a happy customer in the "short term, because" long-term consumer and society may suffer as a direct result of marketing actions in "satisfactory" the consumer "(Carrigan and Attalla, 2001).

The strength of the influence of advertising on consumers does is only part of the equation. On the other hand we can say that consumers are not morally servile, and the models of information process is a natural defense cognitive. Communication tools "we offer a theater of our own imagination" (Hackley and Kitchen, 1999). Therefore, we accept the reality in terms of our own experiences. In this sense marketing does not create reality – they are simply a mirror society. We can argue that, unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Advertising is often just seen as the incarnation of freedom and consumer choice. Despite this important role, when the choice is "between a bar of chocolate and another snack later savory or sweet breakfast cereal or fast food restaurant "(McSpotlight, accessed 20th September 2007), there is nothing else, but not an alternative, and certainly not healthy.

The words of Bernstein (1951), said fifty-six years ago still very much a matter of Current: "This is not true that if we" save the advertising, save us all, but it seems reasonable to assume that if we do not keep advertising, we could lose everything. "

Anonymous (2006). Module 6 Book, Marketing Communications, University of Leicester.
Arnold M. (2001). On the ethical tightrope (Marketing Corporate Social Responsibility), Marketing, 7.12.1001, p. 17.
Bergadaa M. (2007). Children and business: pluralistic ethics of merchants, the society and Business Review, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 53-73.
Bernstein, SR (1951). Good taste in advertising, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 29, No. 3, pp. 42-50.
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Chickenhead, "Truth in advertising. Online. Available at: chickenhead.com/truth/chesterfield6.html (accessed 25th September 2007).
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About the Author

Boyan Yordanof is in the tourism business since 1996. His main interests are in Internet Marketing and more specifically Service Branding in the Hospitality Industry. Boyan is an Internet Marketing Executive at RIU Seabank Hotel Malta.

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