Arguments for Advertising Arguments that justify advertising and the tactics of puffery and exaggeration include:
1. Advertising introduces people to, and influences them to buy, goods and services. Without advertising, consumers would be uninformed about products.
2. Advertising enables companies to be competitive with other firms in domestic and international markets. Firms across the globe use advertisements as competitive weapons.
3. Advertising helps a nation maintain a prosperous economy. Advertising increases consumption and spending, which in turn creates economic growth and jobs, which in turn benefits all. “A rising tide lifts all ships.”
4. Advertising helps a nation’s balance of trade and debt payments, especially in large industries, such as the food, automobile, alcoholic beverage, and technology industries, whose exports help the country’s economy.
5. Customers’ lives are enriched by the images and metaphors advertising creates. Customers pay for the illusions as well as the products advertisements promote.
6. Consumers are not ignorant. Buyers know the differences between lying, manipulation, and colorful hyperbole aimed at attracting attention. Consumers have freedom of choice. Ads try to influence desires already present in people’s minds. Companies have a constitutional right to advertise in free and democratic societies.22
Arguments against (Questionable) Advertising Critics of questionable advertising practices argue that advertising can be harmful for the following reasons. First, advertisements often cross that thin line that exists between puffery and deception. For example, unsophisticated buyers, especially youth, are targeted by companies. David Kessler, former commissioner of the FDA, referred to smoking as a pediatric disease, since 90% of lifelong smokers started when they were 18 and half began by the age of 14.23
Another argument is that advertisements tell half-truths, conceal facts, and intentionally deceive with profit, not consumer welfare, in mind. For example, the $300—$400 billion food industry is increasingly being watched by the FDA for printing misleading labels that use terms such as “cholesterol free,” “lite,” and “all natural.” Consumers need understandable information quickly on how much fat (a significant factor in heart disease) is in food, on standard serving sizes, and on the exact nutritional contents of foods. This is increasingly relevant as food-marketing efforts increase. In 2010, for example, $1.24 trillion of food was supplied by food-service and food-retailing operations, which together make up the food- marketing system.24 At stake in the short term for food companies is an outlay of between $100 million and $600 million for relabeling. In the long term, product sales could be at risk.
One of the great paradoxes of Americans today is their obsession with diet and health, while having one of the worst diets in the world. Also noted earlier, more than two-thirds of adults and more than one-third of children in the United States are obese or overweight. Food industry executives say that customers ask for low-fat food but rarely buy it. For many
Weiss, Joseph W.. <i>Business Ethics : A Stakeholder and Issues Management Approach</i>, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Incorporated, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/apus/detail.action?docID=1565988. Created from apus on 2019-06-15 17:18:23.