Business Ethics: Truth in Advertising

By Gustafson, Robert | Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Spring 1998 | Go to article overview

Business Ethics: Truth in Advertising


Gustafson, Robert, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator


Films for the Humanities & Sciences (1997). Business Ethics: TY-uth in Advertising. 28 minutes, purchase $89.97. Phone: 800-257-5126.

A prominent advertising Listserve, AdForum, carried a rather heated discussion on videotapes concerning advertising ethics. Many of these videos feature critics who exaggerate the power and social effects of advertising so much so that the videos are not worth showing in a classroom. The consensus was that the exaggerated claims and twisted logic serve more to confuse students about the issues and make the issues more difficult to explain than necessary.

One tape recently produced (1997) looked like it had potential. Business Ethics: Truth in Advertising is a fairly balanced, straight-forward presentation of some major ethical issues in advertising. The program proclaims it "examines how truth in advertising has gotten lost in this (today's) competitive frenzy, and how consumers can learn to separate fact from fiction in the confusing barrage of hype and half-truths." Six authorities on advertising appear in the film: David Collins, former executive at Johnson & Johnson; Barbara Lippert, media critic for New York Magazine; Ron Nasher, president of The Nasher Agency; Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers; Patrick Murphy, professor of marketing at the University of Notre Dame; and Fred Meister, president of the Distilled Spirits Council. …

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