As Marshall mcLuhan said:”Ours is the first age where thousands of thebest trained minds have made it a full time business to get inside the publicand collective mind… to get inside in order to manipulate, exploit in control” Many people have negative views of themarketing world and believe itBR1 is an unethical practice. Some, namely Pollay, believe it pollutes ourpsychological and social ecology, which raises moral alarm.
While Pollayacknowledges the fact that advertising has positive features, such as promotingdesirable social aims like savings and investment, or family planning, hebelieves that the negative effects of marketing far outweigh the benefits whichit may bring. At this point I would find myself strongly agreeing with hiswork. Dollard said: “Advertising makes me miserable.
“Advertising’s most fundamental impact may bethat it induces people to keep productive in order to keep consuming – to workin order to buy. Take the iPhone for example. Every 12 or 18 months Apple willrelease a new model of the iPhone, which they market as an upgrade andcompletely superior to the previous model. This new model may vary onlyslightly from the previous model in terms of function or aesthetics but Applewill do everything in their power to make the new phone seem like a must haveand convince the consumer that they cannot do without it. Some people willactively work extra hours and sacrifice other experiences to have this new $800device because Apple told them that they “need” it.
This is a prime example of advertisingpromoting more self doubt than self indulgence. These consumers will have afear of missing out on the new product and this advertising creates needs forpeople rather than fulfilling them. It portrays the grass being greenerelsewhere and leads people to critically examine their immediate environmentand experience.
People will feel inadequate if they don’t have the new phoneand will feel guilty if they let the opportunity of purchasing the new phone passthem by. With regard to ethical theory, a utilitarianwould likely have no issue with this “FOMO” culture and marketing approach asit is seen to bring happiness to the consumerBR2 . The consumer will follow the “greatest happiness” approach bypurchasing the phone and gaining a sense of accomplishment but also possiblysuperiority.
It is a perfect example of egoism, the consumer satisfying theirown needs. Apple, as utilitariansBR3 , will view it as making consumers happy but as I have alreadymentioned; Is it satisfying needs or creating them? Kant on the other hand, would argue thatalthough the phone may provide initial happiness, it still isn’t ethical.Without getting into the tax controversy surrounding Apple, what about thepeople who don’t have the income to buy the phone? These people will be facedwith a sense of social exclusion and in Kant’s eyes people should say no tothis new phone due to a moral obligation they should have by feeling it’s theirduty to add positive value to the worldBR4 . Pollay states that mass marketing promotesconformity and I feel this is a big issue, especially with children. Althoughkids are only a segment of the market, there is mass marketing within thissegment and it puts pressure on parents to provide these things for their kidsin fear that their child could be the only one in school without the newfootball jersey or other latest craze. Although Irish people seem to love itand it seems to be an inherent part of our culture, and without trying to soundlike the Grinch, I find the Late Late Toy Show to be somewhat contradictory ofwhat children should be taught about Christmas.
It’s focused entirely of takingBR5 , rather than giving and spending time with loved ones. It’s a perfectexample of how commercialism and materialism have become a big part of ourworld and nobody seems to notice it. The impacts of commercialised culture arevery much underestimated because we are viewing the culture from within. AsMcLuhan said:”Environments are invisible. Their ground rules,pervasive structure, and overall patterns elude easy perception.
” In today’s society, we are bombarded withmarketing communication everywhere we look. We are distracted by one sidedrhetorical styles of advertising which inhibit rationality and common sense.Trying to concentrate on other forms of media is like “trying to do youralgebra homework in Times Square on New years EveBR6 .” This marketing is intrusive and completely out of proportion. 99% of marketing follows the utilitarianapproach to ethicsBR7 . If it makes people happy – it’s generally okay.
Corporations tend torelease misleading or false information regarding a product in order to getconsumers to buyBR8 . Jeremy Bentham would have no problem with this seeing as it promotesoverall happiness, both for the customer who is receiving the product and thefirm who are receiving money. However, Kant would argue that this is unethicaland that it’s wrong to lie in any situation. An example of a company practicingthis is Duracell.
They deceived customers with their slogan “Lasts even longer”which turned out to be untrue. Customers were paying a higher price for aproduct which wasn’t of better quality. A non-consequentialist would ask thequestion – would we be happy for this mass deception to be a universalisticlaw? The answer is no, and therefore it is an unethical practiceBR9 .
Commercialism is romanticising the life beinglost, similar to museums encapsulating ways of life no longer possible.Families are changing as well as roles of women and children (not necessarily abad thing) and prideful self-interest is impeding spiritual development. It canisolate individuals, breed social competitiveness and even mental healthissues, and it’s something which I believe, at some point or another, will needto be regulated heavilyBR10 . BR1It? You mean marketing? BR2You need to remember that utilitarianism concerns itself with thegreatest good for the greatest number, rather than the happiness of theindividual.
BR3What makes you think that Apple are utilitarian in their perspective? BR4I think there is a slight risk here that you are trying to include asmany theories as possible, in a short essay, rather than taking a more detailedapproach to one or two theories. Also while the example of Apple is quitea good one, don’t forget that the question you are answering here is a generalone and you could perhaps do more to relate your chosen example back to thequestion you were asked. BR5Try to avoid over-generalising on the basis of your own personalopinions.
I think that your analysis of the Late Late Toy Show could also be alittle more nuanced, btw. BR6Nice quote – do you have the source? BR7Why utilitarianism? Why not egoism? BR8Try to avoid over-generalising. What about saying ‘sometimes tend torelease’ rather than ‘tend to release’ BR9This point about non-consequentialism is well-made and would certainlybe given credit when grading an exam answer. However you could certainly if you wishedgo into a little more detail on how misleading advertising was a breach ofnon-consequentialist ethics. Generally speaking if you decide to go with aparticular theoretical perspective you should then try to draw from thatperspective in a little more detail, rather than trying to include 3 or moreperspectives but in less detail.
Here for instance you could have also talkedabout advertisers using consumers solely as means and not recognizing them asends (a violation of Kant’s second maxim) BR10This final paragraph needs a little more work. You could do more torelate it back to the question you were asked and to sum up your main points. Akey issue here is to remember that the question asks about marketingspecifically, not commercialism generally. One final thought – while you haveavoided trying to draw from too many theories, you have focused exclusively onnormative theory.
The inclusion of a discussion of at least one form ofcontemporary theory might have allowed you to bring out interesting alternativeperspectives on the question.