TASK 7 - Advertising ethics

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Good ethics and decency is something left behind in many advertising campaigns. Some adverts are just silly and boring, which can be quite irritating when they are aired again and again. While some I find quite offensive. The use of shock tactic advertising, used largely by charities, I find quite wrong as they are aired to provoke guilt, which isnt the right way, as at the end of the day, they are selling a product too

But what about the advertising used to raise awareness about the dangers of certain products? For example, anti-smoking and alcohol campaigns? Below is an example of an NHS anti smoking advert. The use of guilt and especially children here I find quite offensive. Using the bond between a mother and daughter is not something that should be exploited, even if it is for a good cause.

This is reminiscent of an American campaign aired in 1967 called "Like father like son"

Just like us to copy those Americans!

The advert below "Smoking shortens your penis" is a much better use of airtime. It is witty, shows the dangers(!) of smoking, but doesn't necessarily make you feel like shooting yourself after.

The advert below, aimed at women for binge drinking I think is very clever, although it wouldn't stop me from having that extra drink, it does give an interesting perspective and heightens the negative effects of alcohol, without sending you into a guilt trip

The ASA and the public tend to give charities more leeway to use shocking images than commercial companies because of the good they are trying to achieve. They even have their own advertising code. A controversial campaign can prompt high numbers of complaints and so generate press interest and thus raise a charity's profile.

Barnardos seem to be the market leaders in shock tactic advertising. Imagine yourself sitting at the kitchen table, eating cornflakes and reading the daily newspaper and an advert like the ones below is staring at you in the face?

I think they speak for themselves.


The First things first manifesto was published in 1964 by Ken Garland. It was reacting against the rich and affluent culture of the 60´s and tried to re-radicalise design and lower consumer advertising.

The manifesto was renewed in 2000 by Adbusters generating much discussion about designers priorities. Should designers concern themselves with underlying political questions and not promote products perceived as harmful? Should design be value and conscience free? I will leave that for someone else to decide...


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