Ethics in Advertisements

In today’s society we are constantly being bombarded with different types of advertising, TV, radio, pop up ads, emails, print ads, billboards and there is even product placements within movies. Everywhere we look we see ads. The question is whether this is positivity affecting the audiences that are seeing them. Is ethically marketing in place when it comes to advertising?

People who are probably most affected by these advertisements are children and young adult who are more likely to be swayed by ads. Unfortunately quite often the children, teens and young adult are exposed to commercials that can negatively impact their well-being. For example young girls and women are constantly exposed to unrealistic beauty standards because of advertisements like Victoria Secret and other beauty product lines. This can cause girls to be self-conscience and have low self-esteem and in some extreme cases this causes eating disorders. Thankfully now there are some campaigns that are promoting the beauty of all shapes and sizes such as Dove. From a Utilitarian perspective Dove Real Beauty Campaign definitely benefits the largest amount of people unlike Victoria’s Secret Love My Body Campaign.victorias-secret-and-dove-models

Additionally another campaign with some ethical problems was Camel cigarettes. They had a cjoecamelwinsartoon character Joe Camel as their ad spokesman that was clearly directed at under aged kids and was encouraging them to smoke. (Patterson/Wilkins 61)


Not to mention, I also find it disturbing how advertising and commercials advertise products and services that look one way in the ac but look nothing like that in reality. I think this is being false and not accurate. A good example of this is McDonalds food. In most of these examples loyalties come into play because the advertisers are more concerned about the company making a profit than being loyal to the audiences well being.


On another note, I also have a concern about things such as Google Analytics and other similar programs that allows people to see what advertisements you have looked at, when, what device you use, how old you are and your gender. Than that way they can put other ads that you might be interested in you on side advertisements. I believe that this is a breach in privacy.

Privacy “is concerned with determining who will obtain access to the information. Privacy does not require that information never reach public view, but rather who has control over that information.” (Patterson/Wilkins, 114) I think they need to rethink using some of these methods.

Advertisements can be deceiving at time but there are also campaigns that are making a difference in the world. I am a Ad/PR major I hope one day I will get the opportunity to work on a campaign such as Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign.








Racism Within Film and TV

Within art, particularly film and TV shows present ethical dilemmas where they illustrate people in that they use extreme stereotypes or prejudices. “For instance entertainment content can reinforce the status quo by constantly depicting certain social groups in an unflattering and unrepresentative way, presenting a distorted picture of reality.” (Patterson/Wilkins, 258) Some of the most attacked groups I have encountered are Muslims, Evangelicals, African American and Asians. I recall that even in some cartoons that were meant for children, such as Bugs Bunny, were very racist and insulting to particular groups.

Walter Lippmann, the author of Public Opinion, states how we all fall prey to “defining first and seeing second”. By showing all of these stereotypes in the entertainment industry, we are reinforcing these awful perceptions that are exaggerated and insulting. The audience doesn’t question or challenge these assumptions made about these people.

This situation could be viewed in the perspective of John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism; Mill’s philosophy is to do what benefits the largest number of people, which is clearly not being done. The film and TV industry are harming both the people they are negatively depicting and the audience members who can be molded by these perceptions that they are being presented with. Neither of these will help to benefit the community if anything, it will harm the people. This could cause people to become racist by accident or even on purpose. This would just cause a cycle of hate and insulting stereotypes.

Two ethical news values that should be applied to this situation are accuracy and diversity. Accuracy should be employed because although all stereotypes have some truth behind them, they are playing up most of the attributes that are untrue and offensive. The creators of these movies and cartoons need to do more research to be fully accurate. Diversity is also problem within these programs because they incorporate diversity but in an offensive way. They need to improve by adding diversity by instead doing it in a correct, ethical manner.

Mind you, not all films and TV shows are this way. There are many that show diversity in a positive light and don’t portray the characters in a degrading manner. Good examples of this is Parks and Recreation, Glee, PBS children’s show Maya and Miguel, and New Girl.

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The Manipulation of Body Image

Photoshopification (the manipulation of photos) is becoming a normal thing into today’s society. This causes conflicts in the terms of originality. “The ability to digitize information also challenges our intuitive assumptions about a variety of things everything from the ‘reality’ that a picture represents to the external symbol systems that words and images together create” (Patterson/Wilkins 229). This manipulation of images can also cause major deception to the eyes of the viewer.

This idea of deception is most prominently seen in the fashion world. Models are highly edited to appear perfect. All wrinkles are removed, their waists are shrunk down to ridiculous portions, and butts and breasts are increased. This is not only deceiving but it’s causing people to have unrealistic expectations for themselves. This has a huge impact on young girls.

Women and girls feel the need to be unhealthily skinny because of this photoshopification of models. Recently there has been this fad going around the Internet that has appalled me. It is called The Paper Challenge. Girls hold up a standard size sheet of paper (8 ½ by 11) portrait view against their stomach. If the piece of paper covers their whole stomach then they are the “perfect size”. Our view is skewed because of major editing of photos.



Another phenomenon that women recently become self-conscience about is the thigh gap, aka the space between your legs. Apparently it is seen as unflattering if you thighs touch (which is perfectly normal and healthy). This has gotten so out of hand that an artist found it necessary to make a fake ad for Thigh Gap Jewelry. But, when people go to try and buy it, it sends them to a page that talks about unrealistic beauty standards.


Much like Aristotle’s Golden Means, the fashion industry needs to seek out a happy medium and find a middle ground between two vices. Perhaps, it could alter the photos a little bit to take out minor flaws but not to the extent of complete untruthfulness. Another way to think about it is in the view of Utilitarianism in that it would be more beneficial to a large population of people if the photos remained unedited. Otherwise, women and girls would feel the need to be unhealthy just to fulfill society’s beauty standards.