What Makes Advertising so Controversial?

Hello all, I’m very glad to be back on WordPress. Unfortunately, my last post only received five views! I think that’s a little pathetic, so I am posting this link (deanfromsiena.wordpress.com) on my Facebook and Twitter page! Like I said, give me until the end of semester and I will have readers all around the world reading about my experiences in advertising. Now, I would like to update my readers on my experiences in Professor Scardillo’s Advertising class at Siena College. This week, his students were raised with a very important question as soon as the class period started:

“Does advertising shape social trends or mirror social trends?” In other words, this question asks if advertising creates social trends or are they reactive to common and popular social trends that are currently happening in our society. It is often argued that advertising both shapes and mirrors social values. I would agree with this claim. For example, if you take a look at Poland Spring’s advertisement below, you will see how the attitudes of “going green” in our society lead to the new eco-friendly Poland Spring bottle that features a smaller plastic cap, made with 30% less plastic, and 100% recyclable. It should also be noted, however, that Poland Spring is one of the first companies to really use green marketing technique to build brand awareness as this ad was released in 2012. So, in this case, advertising does both shape and mirror societal values.

Newly shaped Poland Spring Bottle in reflection of our Environment

Newly shaped Poland Spring Bottle in reflection of our Environment

Another claim of controversial advertising is that it has such a heavy influence on children, teenagers and elderly. This suggests that advertising is unethical in their practices. The goal of advertisers/marketers is to persuade consumers to think they need material products when in reality the lives of the consumers would continue without these materialistic products. So, many marketers create advertising campaigns to target the weak consumers such as children, teenages, and elderly. Advertising will often build up the expectations of a product or service. For example, many cereal companies will create ads to get the attention of children watching TV. See for yourself on this Youtube video about Trix’s recent advertisement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYWDvZl31Ac. There are also many “info-mercials” that will target the vulnerability of the elderly population. This deception can be done through false advertising, misleading claims, or endorsements.

This problem of advertising controversy is not going disappear in thin air overnight. Unfortunately, there are so many greedy people in business that seek to take consumer’s money for their personal benefit. The solution to this problem would be for people to get educated and take the time to actively shop for a product/service. A great aspect of our country and capitalism is competition. This gives us consumers a decision!

In conclusion, I personally believe that marketing has become very unethical. One day, I hope to start a career in the advertising industry. As a humanitarian, I pledge to use fair advertising tactics to give value to my future customers (increased value means an increase benefits which yields customer satisfaction). Stay alert fellow consumers and use your options to benefit yourself! Stay posted for next week’s post. Who knows what it is going to be about!


Dean Maloney From Siena


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