05 Jun This chapter explores the ethics of marketing and advertising
As the most visible form of marketing, advertising is one of the principal motors of a capitalist economy and also one of the largest modern industries: The global advertising (the United States was the largest national market at $152 billion). 1 Advertisements not only inform consumers of available products, services, promotions, and sales, they serve a vital business function by allowing brands to distinguish themselves from competitors, which rewards firms for improving the quality of their offerings. Advertising is a key ally for innovation, because advertising allows firms to create awareness and desire among consumers to buy new products. Despite these benefits, the advertising industry has long been suspected of using devious tactics. As a result, many consumers are highly skeptical and even disdainful of advertising in general.
Advertisers sometimes take the risk of shocking the public with their ads because they are seeking to break through the communications clutter of modern life. Today, the average American is exposed to a great number of advertising messages every day, with estimates running from several hundred to several thousand ads per day. 2 In order to attract the public's attention, advertisers may resort to appeals and tactics of questionable taste.