Advertising – Precious Information Or Vicious Manipulation?

Is advertising the ultimate means to inform and help us in our everyday decision-making or is it just an excessively powerful form of mass deception used by companies to persuade their prospects and customers to buy products and services they do not need? Consumers in the global village are exposed to increasing number of advertisement messages and spending for advertisements is increasing accordingly.

It will not be exaggerated if we conclude that we are ‘soaked in this cultural rain of marketing communications’ through TV,Guest Posting press, cinema, Internet, etc. (Hackley and Kitchen, 1999). But if thirty years ago the marketing communication tools were used mainly as a product-centered tactical means, now the promotional mix, and in particular the advertising is focused on signs and semiotics. Some argue that the marketers’ efforts eventually are “turning the economy into symbol so that it means something to the consumer” (Williamson, cited in Anonymous, Marketing Communications, 2006: 569). One critical consequence is that many of the contemporary advertisements “are selling us ourselves” (ibid.)

The abovementioned process is influenced by the commoditisation of products and blurring of consumer’s own perceptions of the companies’ offering. In order to differentiate and position their products and/or services today’s businesses employ advertising which is sometimes considered not only of bad taste, but also as deliberately intrusive and manipulative. The issue of bad advertising is topical to such extent that organisations like Adbusters have embraced the tactics of subvertising – revealing the real intend behind the modern advertising. The Adbusters magazine editor-in-chief Kalle Lason commented on the corporate image building communication activities of the big companies: “We know that oil companies aren’t really friendly to nature, and tobacco companies don’t really care about ethics” (Arnold, 2001). On the other hand, the “ethics and social responsibility are important determinants of such long-term gains as survival, long-term profitability, and competitiveness of the organization” (Singhapakdi, 1999). Without communications strategy that revolves around ethics and social responsibility the concepts of total quality and customer relationships building become elusive. However, there could be no easy clear-cut ethics formula of marketing communications.


In order to get insights into the consumer perception about the role of advertising we have reviewed a number of articles and conducted four in-depth interviews. A number of research papers reach opposed conclusions. These vary from the ones stating that “the ethicality of a firm’s behavior is an important consideration during the purchase decision” and that consumers “will reward ethical behavior by a willingness to pay higher prices for that firm’s product” (Creyer and Ross Jr., 1997) to others stressing that “although consumers may express a desire to support ethical companies, and punish unethical companies, their actual purchase behaviour often remains unaffected by ethical concerns” and that “price, quality and value outweigh ethical criteria in consumer purchase behaviour” (Carrigan and Attalla, 2001). Focusing on the advertising as the most prominent marketing communication tool we have constructed and conducted an interview consisting of four themes and nine questions. The conceptual frame of this paper is built on these four themes.

THEME I. The Ethics in Advertising

The first theme comprises two introductory questions about the ethics in advertising in general.

I.A. How would you define the ethics in advertising?

The term ethics in business involves “morality, organisational ethics and professional deontology” (Isaac, cited in Bergadaa’, 2007). Every industry has its own guidelines for the ethical requirements. However, the principal four requirements for marketing communications are to be legal, decent, honest and truthful. Unfortunately, in a society where the course of action of the companies is determined by profit targets the use of marketing communications messages “may constitute a form of social pollution through the potentially damaging and unintended effects it may have on consumer decision making” (Hackley and Kitchen, 1999).

One of the interviewed respondents stated that “the most successful companies do no need ethics in their activities because they have built empires.” Another view is that “sooner or later whoever is not ethical will face the negative consequences.”

I.B. What is your perception of the importance of ethics in advertising?

The second question is about the importance of being moral when communicating with/to your target audiences and the way consumers/customers view it. In different research papers we have found quite opposing conclusions. Ethics of business seems to be evaluated either as very important in the decision making process or as not really a serious factor in this process. An example of rather extreme stance is that “disaster awaits any brand that acts cynically” (Odell, 2007).

It may seem obvious that the responsibility should be carried by the advertiser because “his is the key responsibility in keeping advertising clean and decent” (Bernstein, 1951). On the other hand the companies’ actions are defined by the “the canons of social responsibility and good taste” (ibid.). One of the interviewees said:

“The only responsible for giving decent advertising is the one who profits at the end. Company’s profits should not be at the expense of society.”

Another one stated that “our culture and the level of societal awareness determine the good and bad in advertising”.

The increased importance of marketing communications ethics is underscored by the need of applying more dialogical, two-way communications approaches. The “demassification technologies have the potential to facilitate dialogue”, but the “monologic” attitude is still the predominant one (Botan, 1997). Arnold (2001) points out the cases of Monsanto and Esso which had to pay “a price for its [theirs] one-way communications strategy”. In this train of thought we may review ethics in advertisements from two different perspectives as suggested by our respondents and different points of view in the reviewed papers. The first one is that it is imperative to have one common code of ethics imposed by the law. The other affirms the independence and responsibility of every industry for setting its own standards.

THEME II. Which type of regulation should be the leading one in the field of advertising?

The next theme directs the attention towards the regulation system which should be the primary one. Widely accepted opinion is that both self regulation and legal controls should work in synergy. In other words the codes of practice are meant to complement the laws. However, in certain countries there are stronger legal controls over the advertising, e.g. in Scandinavia. On the other hand the industry’s self regulation is preferred in the Anglo-Saxon world. Still, not everyone agrees with the laissez-faire concept.

One of our respondents said:

“I believe governments should impose stricter legal frame and harsher punishment for companies which do not comply with the law.”

Needless to say, the social acceptability varies from one culture/country to another. At the end of the day “good taste or bad is largely a matter of the time, the place, and the individual” (Bernstein, 1951). It would be also probably impossible to set clear-cut detailed rules in the era of Internet and interactive TV. Therefore, both types of regulation should be applied with the ultimate aim of reaching balance between the sacred right of freedom of choice and information and minimizing possible widespread offence. Put differently, the goal is synchronising the “different ethical frameworks” of marketers and “others in society” in order to fill the “ethics gap” (Hunt and Vitell, 2006).

THEME III. Content of Advertisements.

Probably the most controversial issue in the field of marketing communications is the content of advertisements. Nwachukwu et al. (1997) distinguish three areas of interest in terms of ethical judgment of ads: “individual autonomy, consumer sovereignty, and the

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Top 7 Advertising Agencies in Dubai

Looking for Top Advertising Agencies in Dubai, UAE? Here is the list and info of top 7 advertising agencies located in Dubai.

Advertising is a crucial aspect of making a business successful. Businesses have several types of advertising needs depending upon their requirements that could range from digital advertising through publishing materials online or print advertising that uses billboards and posters used at public places to promote the company services. For all your advertising and promotion needs,Guest Posting advertising agencies can help you in delivering the best quality solutions at the best rated packages that help your business get highlighted in the market, which in turn makes it possible for it to reach at its potential and be successful through the approach of value driven promotional strategy. Finding a leading Dubai advertising agency will help you to receive highly innovative solutions required for advertising your business and its services. DCCIInfo and ATNInfo are the 2 top business directories who have 155+ verified business listing of the top advertising agencies located in Dubai, UAE.

Below are some of the top 7 advertising agencies in Dubai that can help you reach your advertising goals:

Adfirst Advertising LLC

Adfirst Advertising is one of the topmost advertising agencies in Dubai that offer state of the art solutions in printing and production. They offer cost effective services that are unique and ensure delivering creative artwork through innovative branding ideas. They specialize in visual merchandising, indoor and outdoor advertising prints, graphics and printing for exhibition stand displays, signage displays, vehicle wraps, materials for point of purchase (POP), bulk design collaterals, acrylic fabrication and others. They are fully equipped with modern printing facilities including high speed printing machines used for installing the graphics for indoor and outdoor advertising.

Action Advertising & Marketing

Being one of the leading creative agencies in Dubai, Action Advertising & Marketing acts as the true communication partner offering the best advertising solutions for various business challenges. They assist companies in developing the best marketing strategy to be used for promoting their services in the marketplace. They have a well-defined approach that works well to reach out to the maximum target audience. They can help the businesses in running fully integrated campaigns of designing and producing highly creative promotional materials. Among the topmost advertising services offered by them include running media campaigns, media buying at competitive rates, online advertising, advertising through radio and television, and direct marketing using flyers and leaflets.

Al Madar Adv & Pub LLC

Founded in 1994, Al Madar is one of the best advertising agencies in the United Arab Emirates. They have a team of highly qualified and skilled advertising professionals that offer advertising solutions catering to the emerging needs of the modern industry in printing and packaging. The company has been operating in large scale and have handled a wide range of projects with some of the reputed clients in the market and have successfully delivered printing solutions as per their growing industry demands. To deliver the best results, the company has been regularly updating its technology to the latest market standards that not only speeds up the process but also improves the quality of services delivered.

Al Shuala Media Fz LLC

Any business looking for a one stop shop solution for all its advertising and marketing needs should contact Al Shuala Media, the leading company in Dubai that delivers highly creative branding solutions for promoting the firms in the UAE market. Through its creative communication and promotional strategy, it ensures that the audience connects to the business consistently which is good for its brand building and reputation, and thereby to boost up the business revenue. The advantage of using their services is that it offers a complete comprehensive advertising solution opting for which does not require signing up for any other advertising services.

Ambiance Advertising (LLC)

Among the best advertising agencies in the Emirates, Ambiance Advertising helps your businesses in showcasing their brands among their prestigious clients and customers not only in the UAE but across the globe. The agency has good track record of delivering reliable and consistent solutions in advertising such as producing promotional films and corporate films and offering advertising solutions of high industry standards. It can help you in creating viral online videos in short formats which is an effective and highly popular method of online advertising. Their team of highly creative professionals can assist your business in successfully completing the advertising projects within the deadline and budget while they can also help in case your need any projects be downsized or upscaled irrespective of the project size.

Aquiline Advertising LLC

A well-known name in the printing industry, Aquiline Advertising offers the best solutions in digital printing through its specialized knowledge in the retail sector. The agency helps businesses in creating and running the visual marketing campaigns successfully through a wide range of media services delivered to the highest standards. It incorporates cut-throat creative solutions and impeccable printing technology with great results driven by the team of skilled and artistic professionals with years of expertise in the printing and advertising industry. Some of the advertising services offered by the company includes integrated marketing, hoardings, brochures and leaflets, retail and point of purchase graphics and others.

Ascot Advertising

Specialized in media placement, Ascot Advertising is an innovate agency dealing with a wide range of advertising services delivered to clients all over the United Arab Emirates. To successfully run advertising campaigns, the company firstly evaluates the business advertising needs such as understanding its brand attributes, campaign goals, target audience and other factors. This helps them to use these insights and highly valuable information for evaluating the media opportunities through custom approach. Once launched, the company continuously tracks effectiveness of the advertising campaigns through measurable results. It uses both types of advertising viz. traditional advertising

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