Monday, 20 October 2014

The Question of Cheating in Advertising

Advertising is a cutthroat industry and agencies and companies are always trying to undercut the leading competitor by encouraging the consumer to switch to their brand. Morally, is this really the right thing to do? In our society, we look down on people who cheat, so why is it right in advertising? In terms of promoting cheating between brands, there really is nothing wrong with it. Brands do not have feeling. They do not develop a mental or physically relationship with the consumer in the same way that one person builds a relationship with another person. Overall, the company's main purpose is to increase sales and to earn a profit. The more money they are able to invest the more power they will have in a given section of a market. 

With that being said, there is a fine line in which a company can promote cheating in an appropriate way and ads that promote cheating in a negative way. There have been ads that have published that promote cheating in an immoral manner. Some ads literally tell the viewer to cheat of their significant other in order to enjoy their brand more. These ads are completely inappropriate and should not be used.

Alright, so lets take a look at this concept for a minute:

In 2012, KFC release a campaign called “It does count if…” which targeted women who were dieting. Understanding that dieting is an uphill battle and that there are many reason or ways in which women can trick themselves into believing that they can eat bad food and have it go unnoticed. In the below video it hilariously shows how women disguise their cheating by a number of entertaining excuses. For example, in the opening shot two women are eating cupcakes and the voiceover says, “It doesn't count if it’s one of your five a day.”

Generally, this form of advertising is relatable and generally there is nothing wrong with it. Yes, when a woman cheat on their diet they might feel bad for it but quite frankly most people on a diet have cheat days or weeks. Where this ad fails is even though the video is funny because the view can relate to it, the consumer has no idea what brand is being promoted and if they were to cheat they don't know who they are going to be cheat with. There is no indication that the ad is promoting KFC.

Ok, so sometimes promoting cheating in ads is a good strategy. When is it bad? 

Reebok, in 2012, released an ad campaign that asked the consumer what was more important to them with the slogan: “Cheat on your girlfriend, not on your workout.” This ad was placed in male washroom at a number of gyms in Germany. Even though it was only ran in German gyms partnered with Reebok with the use of social media like YouTube the campaign went viral and made its way to North America.

The ad was pulled once consumers started complaining and threatened to boycott Reebok. As a result to this controversial ad, Reebok acknowledged that the ads were offensive. A spokesperson from Reebok in an interview with CBS stated:
 “We regret that some offensive Reebok materials were recently printed. The signs were removed as soon as we were made aware of them. I can assure you that Reebok does not condone this message or cheating in any way. We apologize for the offensive nature of theses materials, and are disappointed they they appeared at all."

Overall, this form of promoting cheating is completely inappropriate and does cross the line of what is morally right and what is wrong. It is a form of advertising that promoted dishonesty and disrespectfulness towards woman and shouldn’t have be printed in the first place.

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