Like journalism, advertising and marketing are regulated by the principles of good practice, which are often defined in legal text.
Advertisements affect our worldview, both consciously and subconsciously. The imagery transmitted through advertisements moulds our reality and our understanding of society, values and human nature.
The first step in becoming a critical reader of marketing is understanding that the main idea behind it is to generate interest and drive sales.
Many advertisements might be over the top and show a larger-than-life picture of the actual product. Nations usually therefore try to limit the overkills of marketing activities legislation, for example by making it mandatory to show the “real picture” to the audience or consumers. That’s why the most extreme advertisements come with disclaimers and warnings, so that the consumer knows that the stunts, actions performed in the advertisement are done by trained professionals and should not be attempted at home.
Advertisements might be over the top and show a larger-than-life picture of the actual product. Nations usually therefore try to limit the overkills of marketing activities legislation, for example by making it mandatory to show the “real picture” to the audience or consumers.
In general, the same legal and ethical principles that govern media and publishing apply to marketing. The only exception is journalism, which usually also follows self-regulation guidelines that are much stricter than the national laws. Often the use of violence and discrimination can be forbidden in advertising. Discriminating advertising means how a group of people is subordinated, degraded or insulted in advertising on the basis of gender, sexuality, religion, race or disability. Advertising must not reinforce discriminatory attitudes present in society.
There are also usually specific regulations relating to advertising aimed at children. A threatening or frightening advertisement may be contrary to law or good practice when the advertisement can reach children, even if it is not aimed at children. Under-age people should not encounter advertisements that contain sexual impulses inappropriate to their age group or level of development, for example.
The consumer has the right to know when they are being subjected to commercial persuasion.
An advertisement must be recognisable as an advertisement regardless of the way it is presented and its format. The consumer has the right to know when they are being subjected to commercial persuasion. Also, influencers must disclose if they are producing content related to products that they co-operate with. In outdoor advertising, public space is used, and one cannot avoid encountering advertising. That is why an advertisement on a billboard, shop window or in public transportation must be considered more deeply.
Despite this, an advertisement is not necessarily contrary to good practice, even if many people think that it is vulgar or that it arouses unfavourable images.
In addition to law and ethics, there is another point to this story. Following good practice in advertising also has implications for the societal responsibility of the corporation.