Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Blog #7: The First Amendment Rights, Responsibilities, Limitations and other Legal Issues in Advertising

By: Matthew Larson
                People in America have always enjoyed many freedoms.  These freedoms range from speech or expression to the right of owning a gun.  The United States Constitution states that in the first amendment we are granted freedom of speech.  But, where do these boundaries of freedom stop.   In advertising there is no freedom of speech and the boundaries are not limitless.  Why is it that we can have this freedom, but when a company tries to display a message there are guidelines? 
                It is simple, companies already have the power over influence and if we granted companies the ability to say whatever they wanted then censorship and all the rules would head out of the door.  Therefor there are laws in place that assist the guidelines set by organizations appointed by the government.  But, in Washington who is the ultimate decision maker?  There is a set of individuals that regulate the freedoms we have.  If someone were to get murdered in an advertisement then there would be great concern from viewers.  However what about if someone gets murdered in a real life setting, or how about a group of protesters speaking aloud about something they feel very strongly about.  If a business wants to speak out in some fashion against something they believe in though it’s considered unethical and immoral. 
                Advertising is interpreted as a distinct form of speech, which could and should be protected by the right to free speech.  However there are some exceptions lies in advertising, certain types of advertising for kids, advertising for harmful products, and hidden persuaders.  These are types of advertising that very apparently cause harm. They take away people’s freedom of choice at an often very deep and unconscious level. They harm people’s health and they mislead people and force them to buy stuff that they really don’t find necessary to buy. The freedom to increase one’s profit doesn’t outweigh the benefits of limiting these kinds of advertising.  It is a general rule that the freedom of one shouldn’t limit the freedom of another.
Historically, advertising has not received the same constitutional protection as political speech, one form of free speech the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted the First Amendment. Political speech was valued for its role in guiding us toward a more just, democratic society, "a more perfect union." But, over the past few decades the courts have taken a different view, granting free speech rights to commercial interests.  It is both limiting and is not clear on how congress can take a position to limit advertising speech rights.  Stations could be the censor rather than the government.  It is a belief of many that we should be given the right to hear what we choose and say what we want to say. 
There is no indication that a true freedom of speech will be granted to advertising.  Laws will continue to be made and passed limiting what we can really see, and though there are many companies and businesses that stretch the boundary of this freedom.  I will remain to be seen if someone will break this boundary with an effective and very appealing message.  People have to take the initiative to create a society in which we can be able to hear all kinds of speech on every platform and on many levels.

Limiting Free Speech (15): Restricting Advertising Posted on January 29, 2009 by Filip Spagnoli

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blog Entry #6: Ethical Issues in Advertising

By: Matthew Larson
                People in advertising spend a lot of time handling ethical issues, and those issues are almost never crystal clear. They're subtle, shades-of-gray issues that have a great weight on the success of a message.  My first example of an ethical issue comes from an infamous Volvo commercial.  In a real-life monster truck show, the Volvo was the only car left uncrushed; this was a great idea for a commercial! However, the film company needed to shoot several takes.  So they reinforced the beams inside the car to withstand the continuous crushing.  When released to the press, Volvo was furious and their ad agency got fired, ultimately going out of business.  There was no doubt that the demo was rigged. But, what it showed was the truth: if a monster truck runs over you once, are you safer in the Volvo?
                As consumers we are exposed to these types of messages and ad campaigns daily.  Finding out that a message isn’t ethical or that it is falsely demonstrating a product or service could be detrimental to a business’s appearance.   Therefore, ad companies continuously monitor their messages and even before they break out for consumers to view they are tested.  An ethical brainteaser that consumers deal with every day is "What can you simulate and entice to illustrate the truth?" Before you answer "nothing!” one could ask themself if a higher purpose would be served if Pampers and Kotex commercials showed the real thing instead of that fake blue water.  There are just some things that can’t be shown.
                Ads for reputable companies are almost never false. They have to be able to prove what they say to their own corporate counsel.   Ad agencies have lawyers, and network approval committees that work regulating alongside the FDA and the FTC. With at least five different government agencies looking over advertisings shoulder, the cost of being caught cheating is simply too high. In addition, the individuals inside a company want to be able to look at themselves in the mirror. Some like to think of business people as belonging to some other species, but remember that most of them are you a few years from now.  The simple fact is that humans possess feelings.  We are emotionally charged and anything could offend consumers, so ethics is an ongoing issue for advertising companies. 
                Advertising, like human beings, lives where reason meets desire. A few years ago, Coca-Cola invented a better product.  No consumer product had ever been so thoroughly tested with so many consumers. This new Coke was proven to be much better. But consumers not only didn't buy it, they demonstrated against it. A lot of what they loved about "real" Coke wasn't inside the bottle.  It was the idea of Coke and their experiences with it and how those experiences were connected to so much of what we imagine life in America should be like. Advertising isn't just about the things we buy. It's about how we feel about things, including ourselves.  It’s the image associated with any advertisement we see, we place ourselves in that role.  We can physically go to that place in time and exist because of the image projected.
                Ethical issues in advertising cover a wide variety of areas.  Advertisers have to be careful how they advertise tobacco, alcohol, condoms and pharmaceuticals.  A common misconception is that tobacco ads should be outlawed from particular magazines and television stations.  However, these business’s make money based on the consumers they can get to smoke.  Same goes for alcohol, the only way they can make money is by promoting beer and hard liquor during sporting events and other heavily watched television programs.  So how do these companies get a positive message across?  Recently alcohol companies started putting drink responsibly after the ad runs on air.  This is just an added safety precaution.   Issues of ethics will always exist in advertising; consumers will always be sensitive to certain material.  Companies will continue to deal with consumers and their relation to products.   

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blog #5: Global Culture and Diversity in Advertising

By: Matthew Larson
                Global Culture is a contributor to the diversity of advertising.  Globalization of advertising has reshaped the way messages are received by consumers.  Westernization has also contributed to the diversity of advertising in foreign nations.  Strong cultural countries such as China, Japan and India have been positively influenced by western ideas in advertising.  Since business is conducted more globally, there has been emphasis on structuring advertising and marketing campaigns around specific cultures.  Messages are tailor to fit the consumer profile for a country.  Influences are triggered by brand image, product relevancy and consumer behavior. 
                Since consumers play such a vital role in advertising.  Many global companies look to the culture of where an advertising campaign will be released.  An example of this would be subjecting the consumers of India to beef products.  Beef is considered a sacred animal in some cultures of India.  Therefore, a marketing campaign for McDonald’s hamburgers would be irrelevant to the culture of India.  This is not limited to just McDonald’s customers in India.  Worldwide there are many subcultures that have values and beliefs, so for companies to maintain a successful stance in the global marketplace they have to sympathize with the cultural background of a country or even community. 
                With so many different countries with so many different cultures the United States has become a melting pot.  Most worldwide business is in some way connected to the western culture.  America’s influence in the worldwide market spreads from fashion to food.  The influence that America has on the rest of the world began when the rest of the world came to America.  This is where the melting pot theory is defined.  There are many companies that conduct their business in America.  This has to do with import/export, business to business and business to consumer.  Diversity begins with the consumers and since there are so many cultures in the U.S.  Messages are made general and open to the public.
                Advertisements begin to go through a sorting process.  Messages are sorted and placed into categories of where they will be most successful and reach the largest market.  Placement of Ads contributes to the diversity as well.  Having an advertisement for snow tires in Miami, Florida would be quite inappropriate; therefore messages need to be specifically placed in society so that they can reach their maximum potential.  This occurs globally in all cultures.  Each culture is defined by value and beliefs established many years ago.  Culture evolves with time, but there are still many factors that tie into the roots of a culture.
                On the other hand some view globalization as threatening.  The idea comes from a vision that if everyone is doing the same thing then one idea can be followed.  This erases any diversity and constricts the limits of culture.  By assuming everything will be just one control can be gained by companies. Multi-national corporations promote a certain kind of consumerist culture, in which standard commodities, promoted by global marketing campaigns exploiting basic material desires, create similar lifestyles--"Coca-Colanization"
                It it’s the idea that because consumers can maintain an identity of individualism. In turn, it drives companies to further their research of lifestyles and cultural backgrounds.  Penetration into society creates a basic profile that assists companies in gaining domination of an entire market.  The world is changing because of technology and the ability for more people to be exposed to the same things.  Diversity exists in small pockets of society.  Global, regional, and local all contribute to the movement of diversity.  Global Culture gathers at the melting pot know as America.  It remains to be seen that society will shift towards a single view.  Only consumers and the way people spend their money will dictate the outcome of advertising from a global approach.

Global nature, global cultures Franklin, C Lury… - 2000 - Sage Publications Ltd
Global Scan: The Globalization of Advertising Agencies, Concepts and Campaigns, D A Leslie, Department of Geography, Brock University, St. Catherine’s, Ontario Canada