a fine line

conscience vs cash

Advertisers may not be famous for their ethics, but they usually have principles that they refuse to compromise.

Where do you draw the line?





Political parties?

Anything you’d refuse to consume yourself?
(e.g. meat if you’re vegetarian)

Is it realistic to say that we’re being deceitful if we advertise any brand that we wouldn’t buy / consume ourselves?

I’d love to hear your opinions – let me know via the poll below (multiple selections allowed!), and / or share your thoughts in the comments section.


8 Responses to “a fine line”

  1. 1 Jessica August 7, 2009 at 09:47

    No matter it’s casino, ciggies, alcohol or even sex industry. There is demand and of course supply, advertising is just a way to butter it up and trigger the sales. I think as long as the target audience is adults, I do not feel guilty. They should have their own judgment, however advertising to kids under 12 would make me feel guilty.

    • 2 phil August 17, 2009 at 19:19

      to a certain extent, I agree with Jessica, that whilst there is demand, there will be supply. but then that’s the same argument that slavery might have had in the US: because there is demand for slaves, there are ‘companies’ that meet that demand and capture and sell slaves. the same is true with what’s happening in human trafficking now and the endangerment of species. it’s like “because people like shark’s-fin-soup, there are suppliers of shark’s fin”.

      then again, to simplify it to merely being caused by advertising is also not right: advertising is strong in creating and influencing consumers – but it is not THAT strong that it can make people do things that they don’t want in the first place. to say that “I refuse to work for a beer or a cigarette brand because it is a “sin” product…” is equivalent to saying “I have that much power that if I advertised it, people will buy it”.


      i think i just sprained my brain.

      great post, eski.

  2. 3 eskimon August 7, 2009 at 09:53

    Thanks Jessica – advertising to children has been mentioned a few times now…

    Interesting that you mention the sex trade; prostitution is another topic that has occurred a couple of times in the ‘other’ section.

  3. 4 John V Willshire August 7, 2009 at 18:19

    I’d tick ‘political parties’, but would only be partly right. I wouldn’t help a political party that I don’t support, but would help one that I do.

    Also, I wouldn’t help a media organisation whose views I disagreed with.

  4. 5 faris August 8, 2009 at 03:21

    this is a really tricky question.

    At a previous shop we were approached by a cigarette company and the MD went round asking people how they felt and we ended up turning it down.

    But WHY?

    I agreed it seemed bad. But I smoked at the time and defended my right to do so. And if society deems the products can be sold, how can we argue that they can’t be communicated? Esp since smoking was banned – it presents conflicting duality of principles from society, which we bare the brunt.

    this is a bigger question about how advertising works but anyway.

    thinking about other prof services – do lawyers choose who to work with? do accountants? based on morality? or levels of comfort?

    do i think religion should be advertising? not really. i don’t think people should be allowed to proselytize at all.

    but again that’s a different question.

    but do we usually work for brands that we personally use? not very often…

  5. 6 eskimon August 10, 2009 at 13:12

    John, Faris, thanks very much for sharing your thoughts – much appreciated.

    It’s interesting to see that religion and politics are still the areas that most people would prefer to avoid.

    Is that because we’re uncomfortable trying to influence people’s opinions?

    I think this picks up on Faris’s point – is that not what advertising is all about in the first place?

    And to continue in that vein, is it immoral to advertise only the things that we believe in? Is that not a case of promoting our own subjective views and values above those of others?

    It’s a really interesting debate, and one where I doubt we’ll ever achieve consensus of opinion.

  6. 7 gallen August 12, 2009 at 11:16

    If it’s your job is to be right, there is no reason to be wrong. Talk about the death tolls related to the above- a tragedy if you ask me.

    It’s just one vicious cycle of consumers trying to gain more freedom and choice when it comes to decision making. Advertisers that appeal to them in this space will continue to win..( and big) into the next century..It’s not ‘us (subjective self)’, it’s really just them (consumers) at the end of the day

  1. 1 ethics in advertising – poll results « eskimon Trackback on August 21, 2009 at 22:12

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