Social Aspects of Advertising

Culture is total of tangible and intangible concepts that define a way of life culture includes art literature, music (tangible) and knowledge, morals, customs, laws etc. (intangible). It covers the attitude and values of the whole society which are passed from one generation to another.

Habits, customs, attitude, beliefs and values are thus, a part of culture. Advertising is a product of culture. Advertising is an art of persuasion, but still people buy only those goods and services which they needs. What they purchase is the outcome of the cultural values. The consumer.s behaviour is influenced by his family status, family life cycle, social relations, opinion leaders, reference groups etc. The value system is ever changing with the passage of time. With these changes on value system, the role of advertising keeps pace with the changing times. Once a particular set of values have been accepted by a society, the advertising as a social and business process tries to bring all those goods and services which are made to respect the value system.

Critics of advertising points out that mass media supported by advertising have encouraged what is popular rather than what is good and in doing so have encouraged materialistic values rather than cultural ones. They cite the examples of films, serials that are shown on TV and on the big screen, which depicts scenes of rape, murders, and other acts of violence and crime.
However, there are various social, religious and educational institutions to guide the people of a particular society in their behaviour. On the other hand, supporters claim that advertising do upgrade the cultural values for the betterment of the society. They cite the instances of advertising campaigns on family planning, drug abuse, noise pollution and other such public awareness advertising.

Thus it can be concluded that advertising upholds and upgrades the cultural values in several respect but in some cases advertising may be directly or indirectly responsible to the evil craze of materialism.

Ethics in Advertising

Ethics is a set of moral principles, norms or values. It is a branch of social science. It deals with good and bad with reference to a particular culture. It refers to the moral duty and obligation and advertiser has towards the society. Moral principles are the rules or standards of what is “right” or “wrong”. Every advertising tries to persuade the people. In the modern competitive market each advertiser wants to win over his rivals by effective advertising. In this process, there are chances of hiding truth and facts in order to succeed in increased sales and profit. But the advertiser has social and moral duty or obligation towards consumers. An advertiser should maintain a high degree of ethical stands i.e. he must inform the facts or truth to consumers. An advertisement with false claims may succeed in short run but it will definitely give a bad name to the product in long run. Because one can fool some people all the time, and all the people for sometime, but one can not fool all the people all the time.

If unethical practices are continued they will destroy the image of the business as a whole and advertising itself will become less effective. Some of the moral codes developed in advertising are :

1. It should avoid attacking competitors unfairly.
2. It shall be free from offensive to public decency.
3. It shall make clearest claims regarding price reduction guarantees etc.

Ethics, as a tool of communication, plays a significant role both in business as well as in the profession of advertising, norms or ideals, that are accepted and upheld by the society as essential to good life should be followed while advertising any products or service, or, idea.

1. Ethics in advertising means that the advertisers should do only good advertising, meaning thereby honest advertising. It means that only true facts, no exaggeration and no lies, about the product, service, idea or institution should be stated, in clear Tenos, in the ad.

2. Ethics in advertising also means that only good products, services and ideas should be advertised and that too to the right consumers. Advertising for products like cigarettes, beer, whisky, rum, gin, tobacco, pan parag and other harmful products should be avoided.

3. Ads showing testimonials should be restricted to competent persons, who must express honest views and choices.

4. Ads in poor taste and offensive to public decency with double meaning tone must be avoided.

5. Ads should avoid attacking unfairly competitors. In sum, advertising should be honest, objective, informative and persuasive in contents.

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