Blog Post 1: Ethics in Advertising

Ian Knechtle

Media Ethics

Blog 1 Taking Stock


Focusing on how advertising can bring concerns upon the American public is a large issue especially in today’s world with the increase of advertising and its aggressive tactics. Cooper points out in a study that media dishonesty, violent and sexual content, exaggeration, sensationalism, profanity, and rude, pushy, or obnoxious media behavior are all big concerns of the public. I believe that all of those issues are related to advertising in different ways. Personally, the issues of dishonesty and exaggeration are the two largest concerns in my eyes and they go hand-in-hand. Advertisements that are dishonest and exaggerated can be very damaging in more than one way. First, it can do harm to the consumer who has different expectations for the product. Second, it can really hurt the company because if they are accused of dishonest advertising, their reputation will be very damaged. Companies have had to pay millions for false advertising and claiming things that weren’t true. Customers, competitors, and other authorities watch out for these false advertisements and call out companies for their dishonest ways.

Four out of the five interviewees focused on discussing false advertisements and how they have damaged their image of certain companies. They focused on how they are all victims of false advertising and it can really hurt a reputation of a company. The fifth interviewee focused the most on advertising to minors and children and how that can be very unethical. He focused on how children are unable to fully comprehend advertisements and how they can be exaggerated so it is unethical for companies to practice it. This is definitely a huge issue when it comes to advertising and I totally agree with him. Children are usually unaware of what they are being persuaded to do and they just want to consume whatever they see without putting much thought into it. It can be very dangerous for a company to do this because it is unhealthy for children and it can get a company in a lot of trouble if they get caught doing it. All interviewees and I agreed that effective advertising can truly benefit a company on a large scale. There are risks and rewards that come with advertising and decisions that people make in advertising, but sticking to the truth and exaggerating maybe just a little at times can be okay. False and dishonest advertising can lead to customers being mislead and possibly hurt by a company’s product because they expected something different, and this false advertising can lead to the destruction of a company. There are many companies who have had to pay millions in fines and lawsuits because of their false advertising.

Sensationalism is also an issue in advertising because it can be misleading and inaccurate. It can try to persuade the public to buy products, goods, and services based off of exaggerated stories and language to get the public excited. This is obviously related to false and dishonest advertising. The exaggerated excitement about a product can persuade the public to buy whatever is being sold and this can lead to more damage.

Bhasin, K., & Weinmann, K. (2011, September 16). 14 False Advertising Scandals That Cost Brands Millions. Retrieved February 22, 2015, from

Cooper, T. (2008). Between the Summits: What Americans think about media ethics. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 23. 15-27. DOI: 10.1080/08900520701753106

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