Living in today’s society, it is almost impossible to escape the constant onslaught of advertising. Print ads, television ads, radio ads, and, most recently, internet ads bombard the brain with extreme frequency. Because advertising is such a large part of and has such a great impact on our lives, its content is a hot topic. Many agencies, such as the FCC and FTC, have formed in order to regulate the advertising industry, but even with regulations in place, there is great debate over the content that advertisers should and should not be able to use. In this debate, there are two main side: that of the business and that of the consumer.
From the perspective of the business, advertising provides a way to sell a product or idea. Because of this, it makes sense that I business would attempt to lure potential customers in by the most effective means necessary. This may mean blurring the lines of accuracy and morality in order to make a product more appealing. From this point of view, advertising is not about ethics, but rather the main goal is effectiveness.
On the other side of the coin, however, you have the perspective of the consumer. When deciding what products to buy, consumers must place a certain amount of trust in the advertisements put out by the companies selling the products. To the customer, advertisements provide a window into products, ideas, and the companies behind them. Thus, customers desire advertisements to be truthful.
In this battle, I side with the consumer. This is due to the fact that I am a consumer and expect a certain standard from companies attempting to sell to me, as well as my overall believe that there are moral values companies should be compelled to align with. Because so many citizens have this same opinion, the FTC, FCC, and other agencies help hold companies accountable for their advertisements for the benefit of consumers. Issues these organizations address include, the accuracy of the information advertisements provide, ethical concerns of the advertisements, and amount of advertising time. Although business’ may be constrained by these rules, such as not being able to have the most effective advertisements because of time or content restrictions, they provide numerous benefits for society overall. For one, each of us, including those in the advertising and business industries, are consumers. Thus, each of us benefits from more accurate information when deciding what to buy. Furthermore, regulations regarding ethical issues, such as advertising to children and advertising for certain vices (tobacco, alcohol, etc.), are beneficial because they reduce the possible negative influences advertising can have. Because exposure to advertising is so constant in our society, the ideas expressed in advertisements have a huge impact on our thinking. Therefore, the less detrimental ideas we are exposed to, the less of an impact they will have on us. Thus, although regulations are not favorable for companies, the services they provide are crucial for consumers and society as a whole.
Media/Society by David Croteau and William Hoynes