Economic objections against advertising
The criticisms leveled against modern advertising on economic grounds can be summarized as follows:
- Advertising creates monopolistic tendencies: It is argued that skillful and forceful advertising tends to create semi-monopolies particularly for branded goods. Their plea is that the advertisements create new demands so that one product is preferred to the exclusion of others. But this allegation is baseless. Monopoly is not possible in a competitive market. Advertising stimulates competition. Very often many small advertisers complete successfully against the bigger traders.
- Advertising is unproductive: It is often argued that advertising is unproductive since it does not produce any tangible products. This argument is also worthless. All productive work need not result in tangible goods. Effective advertisement creates demand for the product and thereby stimulates production. It is indeed a valuable service to the producer. Thus, advertising is an economic necessity.
- Advertising compels the consumers to buy: Some people argue that advertising takes advantage of the emotion of the consumers and compel them to buy things which they cannot afford or things which are beyond their buying capacity. It is true that advertising generates a desire to buy. But no physical pressure is exerted by it on the consumers. In reality, it educates the consumers and helps them to make an intelligent buying.
- Advertising leads to higher cost of goods: Product generously spend huge money on advertising. This ultimately increases the cost of goods and the consumer has to bear the burden of huge expenditure. Thus, the consumers are heavily taxed due to the heavy expenditure on advertising. This argument also found to be untruthful. It is no doubt that sometimes huge expenditure is incurred on advertisements. But the benefits derived from such advertisements cannot be denied. Advertisements correspondingly increase the sales which ultimately lead to an increase in the production. Increased production lowers the unit cost and so the consumers are not, in fact, exploited. But advertisements bring a cut in the price of the goods and services.
- Advertising just takes business from one concern and gives it to another: It is also argued that advertisement creates no new demand for the products. It simply takes away the business of one concern and gives it to another. In other words, advertising helps to shift the demand from one product in favor of another. Thus, it generates no new demand for a product. The critics who make this allegation assume that the purchasing power of the community is static. But in fact purchasing power is not a static concept. It is unrestricted and unlimited. Besides tastes, styles, standards and incomes of the people are subjects to constant change. Hence, this criticism is based upon a false notion and cannot be upheld.
- Advertising is unnecessary: Some critics plea that advertisement is unnecessary. Hence it is a waste. They also cite the example of Russian economy where there is no place for advertising. Russians do not advertise but they put that money into goods. This allegation shall not also hold good. In a competitive economy like ours there is a possibility of choice-choosing a product in preference to the other. In the Russian economy choice is restricted and limited. Therefore, certain goods which need no advertising. This argument shall hold good only in case of basic necessaries or good which have no substitutes. But in case of other products which have many substitutes advertising is a must. Thus, advertising is necessary and is not a waste.
Social objections against advertising:
The criticism leveled against advertising on social grounds can be summarized as follows:
- Advertising is an exaggeration of facts: Most of the advertisements are misleading and untrue. They contain all claims and exaggeration of facts. Such exaggerated advertising amounts to swindling. So critics say that advertising has the effect of deceiving the society and must be condemned. This allegation is also baseless. It is no doubt that advertisement is often used by dishonest persons to sell worthless products. But they are only short lived. Consumers who buy such products shall soon find out that the product is not up to the standard and so shift their preference to some other product. The advertiser in the long run cannot enjoy the benefits of advertising by merely misrepresenting the facts about the product.
- Advertising influences the press: Advertising, although make newspaper cheaper, it enables advertiser to influence the press so that the news may by so
drafted to please the advertisers. Thus, freedom of press is adversely affected by influenced advertisers. It is true that advertising constitutes a major source of revenue for the very existence of the newspapers. In reality the press is able to maintain its freedom only because of advertising. In the recent past, many Governments, the newspapers were able to maintain their freedom only because of the business advertisements. The newspapers are not depending on the advertisers but the advertisers in fact depend on the newspapers without which their very existence itself shall be doomed.
- Advertising contains emotions: It is also argued that advertising contains outraging sentiments, exciting emotions, rude poses of fair sex and lower down the morale of the younger generation. This criticism is not absolutely baseless but contains an element of truth. It is true that the reader or the listeners are induced by highly emotionalized appeals. But emotions and illusions are necessaries for life. Emotions and illusions constitute a part of motivation that stimulates enjoyment. Thus, advertising has no demoralizing effect under all circumstances.
Ethical objections against advertising
Advertising is also criticized on ethical grounds. The following are some of the criticisms leveled on ethical grounds.
- Some of the advertisements are offensive to public decency. They are vulgar, silly and full of appeals to sex.
- Some advertisements induce the readers to use or consume goods which are injurious their health.
- Advertising causes people to want things which they cannot afford. This makes a section of the community to remain discontented.
These allegations are partly true. After all advertising is only an instrument like any other instrument. Therefore, advertising in itself is neither good nor bad. It is just like a sword and its social and ethical significance depends on the manner in which it is used. Unsocial and unethical advertising can be curbed by effectively controlling them.