Term paper: The ethical responsibilities of companies that use advertising

At first glance, advertising is essential for companies because it helps them to promote their products and services as well as brands.

In addition, advertising can be cost-efficient and bring considerable benefits to companies not only in a short-term but also in a long-term perspective. However, in actuality, advertising is extremely dangerous because it affects consumers significantly and the impact of advertising on consumers raises a number of ethical issues. In fact, the major ethical problem is the problem of the freedom of choice of consumers and the antagonism between the free will of consumers and the systematic and irresistible impact of advertising on consumers’ mind and consciousness. In addition, companies often use unethical techniques in advertising, including the technique of influencing children by means advertising to influence parents’ choices and consumer behavior. In such a situation, companies that use advertising should meet at least basic ethical norms, which minimize the negative impact of advertising on consumers and prevent the risk of the establishment of control over the mind of consumers by advertising as well as the transformation of consumers in mere machines obeying blindly orders they receive from advertising and messages advertising sends to the audience.

First of all, specialists (Pine and Gilmore, 2007) recommend to develop basic ethical norms and rules which companies that use advertising should obey. In other words, companies need to develop ethical norms which they cannot violate in their advertising. Obviously, the development of these ethical norms should involve not only representatives of business but also representatives of the public. Otherwise, these ethical norms and principles will meet needs of business solely, while ethical considerations of the public will be ignored.

Furthermore, companies should refuse from the use of unfair or unethical techniques which are currently used in advertising. However, this goals is extremely difficult to meet because, today, companies use very sophisticated techniques in advertising. In addition, it is necessary to develop criteria which can define which techniques are ethical and which are not. Moreover, it is necessary to create a public organization or state committee to control advertising and the extent to which its technique are ethical. However, the latter will inevitably raise the debate concerning the government censorship of advertising and mass media at large. Therefore, it is mainly the companies’ responsibility to use or not to use unfair and unethical techniques in their advertising but they should be conscious of the fact that their advertising influences consumers.


Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that advertising has a significant influence on consumers, their habits and behavior. In actuality, the view on advertising as a tool of the mind control seems to be quite radical view but if the current trend to the increasing impact of advertising on consumers persists, advertising will become a very effective tool of the mind control. In this respect, the role of mass media is very important because they facilitate the wide spread of advertising and its huge impact on consumers. However, the transformation of consumers in mere machines obeying advertising and buying products and services is absolutely unethical, as well as the use of unfair techniques in advertising. Consequently, companies that use advertising should conduct ethically correct policies but, in this regard, the public and state control over advertising and mass media may be crucial.

Works Cited:
Bagdikian, B. H. (2007). The Media Monopoly, Sixth Edition, Beacon Press.
Bovee, C.L. and Thill, J.V. (2005).Excellence in Business Communication. New York: Prentice Hall.
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Chomsky, N. (June, 1997). “What makes mainstream media mainstream”, Z Magazine, 33(4), 91-97.
Hart, J.L. (2004). “Organizational Communication in an Age of Globalization: Issues, Reflections. Practices”. Business Communication Quarterly, 67(14), 34-41.
Moy, P. et al. (1999). “Media use and public confidence in democratic institutions.” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 43(2), 137-142.
Pine, J. and Gilmore, J. (2007). The Experience Economy, Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Peters, T. J. (2007). In search of excellence: Lessons from America’s best-run companies. New York: Harper & Row.
Schenker, H. (2000). The Art of Performance. New York: Random House.
Wilkins, A. L. (1999). Developing Corporate Character: How to successfully change an organization without destroying it. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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