Over the years, advertising has never failed to draw public attention. With the development of technology, advertising has become one of the most integral parts to improve the sales of businesses. Performing an effective advertising is important for businesses to create brand equity, maintain the brand loyalty and achive success (Keller & Kotler, 2016). It is true that advertising is a form of marketing which reach the viewers through various traditional media such as TV ads, newspaper, or modern media such as email marketing, blogs, websites. Furthermore, the technological advancements have made advertising become more prevalent and influential in its impact on the society. This evolution has led to the fact that many organizations have a tendency to use unethical advertising which can be considered unethical advertising in order to reach new potential customers and gain higher profits. The growing trend of fraudulent advertising can seriously affect consumers’ health, especially children and women. Furthermore, this phenomenon also have a detrimental effect on gender stereotypes, not to mention children’s perspective on gender roles in the society. Clearly, unethical advertising have negative consequences not only on health but also on gender equality.
Advertising is a tool for businesses to market their products or services as well as to remain consumers loyal to their brands. It is spread through television, newspapers, magazines and social networks. Basically, advertising take an important role in improving the communication between businesses and communities through mass media channels. Because of the constant change of advertising, there are a majority of the rules that advertisers should follow in order to protect consumers’ rights. However, most of the organizations tend to produce advertising that have morally wrong content without considering the ethical issue or the severe consequences they may cause to people. Advertising is unethical when it is creating and misrepresenting false messages or inaccurate information to people through social media. These unethical advertisements include exaggeration, unverified claims, comparative advertising and unethical stereotyping gender. Exaggeration is false statements to attract people to buy the companies’ products or services. Advertisers tend to exaggerate in their advertisements to promote the benefits of the products. They also use unverified claims of the product’s quality such as food, drink, or beauty products without proving any scientific evidence. Another unethical type of advertising is comparative advertising between companies. Comparative advertising is a marketing strategy that a company attempt to convince consumers that their products or services have a better quality than its competitor’s products. As a result, this type of advertising may cause customer to have difficulties in selecting products from different companies. Moreover, advertisers also use stereotyping advertising to draw attention to their brand as well as to generate sales , including underrepresent women as sex objects or domestic servants, describe women to be associated with their families and men. It is clear that stereotyping advertising is unethical advertising because of enhancing stereotypical gender roles. In fact, there are various marketing practices that demonstrate the existence of such deception, and it is true that purchasers may be aware of this, but they are unable to discover it. Consequently, it is difficult for customers to avoid these unethical advertising, so they are exposed to it and affected directly to their purchasing decisions one way or another.
It is irrefutable that misleading advertisements have a negative influence on consumers, especially health. Nowadays, many businesses tend to intend their marketing for the different age groups. To be more specific, there are a large number of advertising companies make junk food seem irresistible as they are conscious of the fact that children can easily be affected by advertisements and become physically addicted to junk food. This is because children are inclined to lack of knowledge and experience to understand and evaluate thoroughly the purpose of the persuasive advertising appeals, they are unable to distinguish between commercials and programmes as well as to discriminate between reality and fantasy. Therefore, these unethical advertising have influenced negatively not only on the eating habits but also the health of children. For instance, nowadays, due to the mass commercial of high-calorie foods and unhealthy beverages as tasty and spectacular meals, children have propensities to consume the large amount of these kinds of food that have highly saturated fat, rather than nutritious and healthy food. Furthermore, according to BBC news, 35% of children all over the world have long-term problems with obesity, diabetes, heart problems and many other severe diseases. This confirms the fact that one of the main factors that is partly responsible for the increasing number of child obesity is advertising. Additionally, unethical advertising has a significant impact not only on children but also on women. In recent years, women are more likely to use skin-lightening creams or fat burning products due to unethical advertising (Newaz 2017). That means these types of advertising mainly make unproven claims that by using such beauty products, women can easily lighten their skin colour or even burn fat with a remarkable speed. In contrast, such chemicals are responsible for illnesses such as skin cancer and heart diseases. Moreover, according to the Guardian, most of the creams traded in the market have been found to contain dangerous compounds such as hydroquinone, steroids and mercury, which can not only cause skin damage by poisoning and thinning of the skin but also lead to liver and kidney malfunction. Thus it is evident that fraudulent advertising have damaging effects on customers’ health, especially children and women.
In addition, misleading advertising not only have a damaging effect on health, but also on gender stereotypes. Due to the availability of similar products from different companies in the market, the purchasers have a wide range of commodities to select. As a result, most of the companies have a tendency to publicize their products in such a way that can attract attention to more consumers to generate higher profit. This is the reason why sexual appeal and content have been used as a common marketing strategy, especially the female body is increasingly used as eye-catcher. Most false advertisements have inclination to generate a limited representation of social role as well as to create negative and unrealistic portrayals (Kosunnen at al. 2017). Nowadays, women are more likely than men to be shown wearing revealing clothing or performing as sex acts, or be described as objects or animals. Moreover, women represented in different kinds of ads are shown to be beautiful and exceptionally thin. This common phenomenon has created a negative effect on women’ image in society. These unethical advertisements increase tremendous impact on men’ mind that women are objects, who can be exploited easily as they are weak physically as well as need a man for their protection. For example, according to The Conversation, Sofitel Brisbane central had showed a couple eating breakfast in bed. While a man is reading the Australian Financial Review, a woman is reading a Chanel coffee table book. This example confirms the fact that women continue to be shown in stereotypical roles such as housewives, and the products associated with them are appliances, furniture or commodities related to health, cleaning or beauty. In contrast, men typically represented as powerful, intelligent and responsible, as well as associated with top-level corporate management positions or financial products. Additionally, misleading advertising also has a significant impact on children’ understandings of gender roles in society. By targeting dolls, clothes and cosmetics towards girls and action figures, video games, and sporting equipment towards boys, the false advertising constricts children into stereotyped roles and socialize them to accept these categorization. The promotion of these stereotypes has lead to an unhealthily prescriptive situation that children realize the toys they see advertised are only for one gender. Through advertisements, children learn lo categorize themselves by gender. Girls absorb that they are supposed to be attractive and caring, while males familiarize that they are expected to be ambitious, independent and strong. This sets a detrimental precedent for child development and socialization skills.