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The title of this research is to critical analysis of ethics in advertising. The broad objective of this study is to critically analyze the ethics in advertising and the specific objective are to understand the ethics in Advertising, to analyze the respondents order of preference of the media for ethical advertisements, to evaluate the significance need of ethics in advertising for marketing a product or service and to offer suggestions and recommendations for enhancing the ethical values in advertisements. Advertising can play an important role in the society since it is a one-to-many communication which reaches mass audience in no time. It is also a necessary component of the modern market economies, which is not only a tool for marketing an existing product but also introduces a new product in the existing market. Anything which over exaggerates or misleads the product information, indecency, vulgarity, abusive, annoyance and harmful effects are unethical and leads to immoral values about the product among the consumers. As a result the product value is deceased and affects the sustainability of the product in the market Findings show that there is significance need of ethics in advertising for marketing a product or services. This is evident in the majority of the respondents who agreed to that influence base on 78.95% and 76.25% response on question 2 and 3 respectively. The implication that there is need of ethics in advertising for ads/ad or advert should not mislead customer. Ad or advert should not exaggerate the product feature and also Advertisements should not adversely affect any group of audience. Honesty, integrity and quality are the important features of ethical advertising. These features create value to all the stakeholders of the advertising media. Now-a-days only ethical based advertisements are highly welcomed by all the audience. Ethicality in advertising improves the quality of the advertisements in any media and enhances the brand image for the advertised product. Thus, it can be concluded that strictly adhering to ethical values in advertisements will increase the market share for the advertised product which is the need of the hour for the advertising media – the Print and Electronic.
1.1 Background of the Study
Advertising is a form of selling a product to a certain audience which communication is intended to persuade an audience to purchase products, ideals or services whether they want or need them. While advertising can be seen as a way to inform the audience about a certain product or idea it also comes with a cost because the sellers have to find a way to show the seller interest in their product. It is not without social costs. Unsolicited commercial email and other forms of spam have become so prevalent that they are a major nuisance to internet users, as well as being a financial burden on internet service providers. Advertising increasingly invades public spaces, such as schools, which some critics argue is a form of child exploitation. Advertising frequently uses psychological pressure (for example, appealing to feelings of inadequacy) on the intended consumer, which may be harmful. As a result of these criticisms, the advertising industry has seen low approval rates in surveys and negative cultural portrayals (Cohen, 2018).
Companies use advertisements to make current and potential customers aware of the features and benefits of their products. By advertising regularly, a company can reinforce their positive brand image so that their product becomes first choice when the consumer next makes a purchase. Most companies try their best to release advertisements that reflect the information that customers feel is important when choosing a product in an effective and ethical manner. However, when companies are not cautious about the advertisements that they release, they may create an advertisement that is not well perceived by their audience and is very detrimental to their reputation. When studying unethical advertisements and how they affect how consumers feel about the company’s brand, it is important to first study ethics in advertising. It is vital to understand how consumers judge advertisements so advertisers can approach the creation of an advertisement with an idea of how it will be received. Consumers judge advertisements based on the principles of idealism, pragmatism, and relativism (Dean, 2005). Idealism emphasizes universal statements of right and wrong; not the consequences of the actions or the function of time, place, or culture. In this case, most will view a concept in an advertisement as right or most will view the concept as wrong, there is not much of a gray area. Relativism, on the other hand, is not based on universal rules but is indeed based on the time, place, and culture of the audience who is viewing the advertisement. An advertisement in this case may be acceptable to one culture but extremely offensive in another based off of the beliefs and norms of the people in that culture. Pragmatism is based off of the belief that the advertisement results in the greatest good for the greatest number of people. It is valuable for companies to think of how individuals may arrive at an ethical judgment about an advertisement based off of these principles, but it also a good idea to have standards of ethics to evaluate advertisements as well. The Vatican Pontifical Council for Social Communications states that there are three principles that companies should follow when creating and releasing advertisements to the public. First, the council says that an advertisement should be truthful and should not “deliberately deceive, distort the truth, or withhold relevant facts” (Dean 2005). Second, an advertisement should take into account human dignity and should not “pander to the base desires of man by appealing to lust, vanity, envy, or greed and should not target vulnerable groups such as children, the poor, the elderly, and the culturally disadvantaged” (Dean 2005). Lastly, the principle of social responsibility states that advertising “does not promote a lavish lifestyle that contributes to the waste of resources and the despoiling of the natural environment” (Dean 2005). The American Advertising Federation’s Advertising Principles of American Business bring forth another set of ethical advertising principles for businesses to follow. First, the principle of truth says that: “Advertising shall tell the truth, and shall reveal significant facts, the omission of which would mislead the public” (The Advertising Principles of American Business). The second principle, substantiation, says that: “Advertising claims shall be substantiated by evidence in possession of the advertiser and advertising agency, prior to making such claims” (The Advertising Principles of American Business). Comparisons, the third principle, states that “Advertising shall refrain from making false, misleading, or unsubstantiated statements or claims about a competitor or his products or services” Lastly and most importantly, the American Advertising Federation comments on taste and decency: “Advertising shall be free of statements, illustrations or implications which are offensive to good taste or public decency” (The Advertising Principles of American Business). When analyzing an advertisement, marketing managers should look at these principles to avoid releasing an advertisement that is likely to offend consumers and ruin their reputation, as “consumers are a major participant in the business process and not considering them in ethics research will likely result in an incomplete understanding of business ethics” (Vitell and Muncy, 585).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Advertising can play an important role in the society since it is a one-to-many communication which reaches mass audience in no time. It is also a necessary component of the modern market economies, which is not only a tool for marketing an existing product but also introduces a new product in the existing market. Anything which over exaggerates or misleads the product information, indecency, vulgarity, abusive, annoyance and harmful effects are unethical and leads to immoral values about the product among the consumers. As a result the product value is deceased and affects the sustainability of the product in the market. It is thus, the responsibility of the advertisers to follow the ethics in advertising and hence the research problem for the present study has been formulated for solving the research questions stated in this work.
1.3 Aim and Objective of the Study
The broad objective of this study is to critically analyze the ethics in advertising and the specific objective are:
1. To understand the ethics in Advertising.
2. To analyze the respondents order of preference of the media for ethical advertisements.
3. To evaluate the significance need of ethics in advertising for marketing a product or service.
4. To offer suggestions and recommendations for enhancing the ethical values in advertisements.
1.4 Research Question
Based on the objective about, the following research question is formulate:
1. What is Ethics in advertising?
2. Does the advertisements in the media are following the standards and code of conduct?
3. How far the various attributes of ethical advertisements are contributing towards standards and code of conduct for advertisements?
4. How effectively the advertisements are enhancing the social standards and moral values of the consumers?
5. What is the opinion of the respondents towards viewing/listening to the ethical advertisements in various media?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The research hypothesis for this study are as followed:
Ho: There is no significance need of ethics in advertising for marketing a product or services.
Hi: There is significance need of ethics in advertising for marketing a product or services.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The Focus of the study is on studying the ethical practices of the various advertisements in Nigeria and the world at large at present and their relative effects. However, it is very difficult to distinguish a clear line of difference between what is true and what is untrue. Over the years advertising and marketing communication messages have created debatable ethical issues, due to the public belief, that advertisements deeply affect the way people perceive themselves and the world surrounding them, including crucial actions and behavior.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study is centered on critical analysis of ethnics in advertising.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
The main constraint of the research is divided into the following parts.
Time constraints- due to the short time given for the study, the researcher could not get all the required information needed for the study.
Finance- as a result of money constraint the researcher had not enough money to carry out the study beyond the level. The researcher could not visit places where necessary information relevant to the study could be obtained.
1.9 Definition of Terms
Ethics: Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct.
Advertising: Advertising is a marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored, non-personal message to promote or sell a product, service or idea.
1.10 Summary of Chapters
The research work will contain five chapter and the chapter one will consist of background of the study, statement of the problem, aim and objective of the study, research question, research hypotheses, and significance of the study, scope of the study, limitation of the study and definition of terms. The chapter two of this work will consist different research done by different scholar, the chapter three will consist the research design, population of the study, area of study, sample size, sampling techniques, instrument of data collection, validity of instrument, reliability of instrument, method of data collection and method of data analysis. The chapter four will contain the data presentation and analysis of the data collected via questionnaire whereas the chapter five will contain the summary, conclusion and recommendation for further study.
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