There are so many example of  advertisers being unethical, it is difficult to know where to start. Here are just some.

  • When advertising women’s clothes thin young girls are used as the models with the intention of making women think they will look as good as the model.
  • In advertisements for a hair-care product it was revealed that the well-known actress had hair extensions fitted. In an advertisement for mascara to make eyelashes look longer, it was found out that the model was wearing false eyelashes.
  • To advertise weight-loss products there is usually a before and after photograph. The before picture shows the person looking miserable and is shot in poor light and at an angle to make the person look as fat as possible. The after picture is shot in colour with the person smiling and at a more flattering angle.
  • When dental or medical products are advertised, it’s usually a person in a white coat who does the talking – with the intention of making people think the actor is a dentist or doctor.
  • It is well known that skin care products use photographs that are “touch-up” to erase any skin blemishes and wrinkles.
  • When food products are photographed, a range of artificial tricks is used to make the food look much better than it is. That is why the food one gets out of a box hardly ever looks as good as the photograph on the box.
  • Pick up a book on advertising techniques and you’ll probably find a chapter on the use of emotions such as fear and guilt. You’ll find a sentence that says something like “Fear of loss sells more that the joy of gain”. The most blatant use of this technique is when parents are subliminally told they are not good parents because their children go to school without the whitest blouse or the latest cheese snack.

There are probably many more instances of the low-standard advertiser ethics.

Being naive, the first reaction  to this deception  is disbelief. Do advertising creative people and their clients accept that they are deceiving people?

Compounding the deception!

There is evidence that some advertisers know they are deceiving customers and are  THINK THIS IS OKAY!  To make their deception okay they inform the customer that they are deceiving  them:   they put a subtitle at the bottom of the advertisement saying. for example,  “Miss Jones is wearing hair extensions”. How good is that … telling people you are deicing them? But here is the trick they use. The subtitle appears so quickly and is so small and is so weak colour, that most people won’t see it.

Why do some advertisers do this? Why do advertising regulators let them get away with it? An awareness of better advertiser ethics is needed.


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