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Diverging responsibilities: reections on emerging issues of responsibility in the advertising business

Nando Malmelin

Nando Malmelin is Development Director at A-lehdet Oy, Helsinki, A-lehdet, Finland.

he business of marketing communications has ever increasing economic and cultural importance. The results of the creative efforts by advertising professionals receive exceptional public exposure, and professionals have the power to inuence peoples lives. The debate and discussion on advertising and its ethics, for instance, is also part of the broader debate in society that contributes to shaping societys values.

Therefore it is important that we have a proper understanding of the industry. Marketing and advertising must be analysed as part of broader social phenomena and structures, not just as tools of selling products. (for more on this, see, e.g. Nixon, 2003; Cronin, 2004; Drumwright and Murphy, 2004; Szmigin, 2003; Willmott, 2003.) The debate and discussion on corporate social responsibility has taken off very strongly, and although marketing professionals (e.g. Vitell et al., 2003) and media professionals (e.g. Wilenius and Malmelin, 2009) have been studied from these points of view, advertising has so far received only scant attention (see Maignan et al., 2005). At the Cannes Lions Festival in June 2007, former US Vice President, Nobel Peace Laureate Al Gore called upon advertising professionals to take a leading role in tackling global environmental problems. The advertising community, he said, must harness their creative capabilities to communicate to audiences around the world about the environmental crisis. Leaders in advertising agencies are also uniquely placed to raise awareness among business executives and to highlight the importance of environmental concerns and considerations to the future development of brand value. This article is based on an interview study with 15 advertising executives and leading experts in Finland. The interviews were conducted in December 2006 and January 2007 with the managers of the ve biggest advertising agencies in 2006 as measured in terms of their sales margin: managing directors and, on their appointment, managers or leading experts responsible for strategic planning and creative design[1]. A major focus in these interviews was on how the phenomenon of responsible business is understood in the advertising industry. For instance, the informants were asked to whom they felt answerable for their actions and how this affected their work. The decision to interview managers of advertising agencies was motivated by the fact that it is they who are responsible for the processes of producing marketing communication, advertisements and other promotional materials. All advertisements are the outcome of deliberate choices by their creators. Those choices are informed by personal values and attitudes as well as by principles and visions shared by the professional community in the workplace. All of this is ultimately the responsibility of company management. The data were collected in focused interviews where all informants were asked the same questions, although they had considerable latitude to answer those questions as they saw t. The aim was to nd out how advertising professionals experience, interpret and value the social responsibilities of experts and businesses in the advertising industry.

DOI 10.1108/17515631011013104

VOL. 11 NO. 1 2010, pp. 43-53, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1751-5637

BUSINESS STRATEGY SERIES

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The interview data were analysed and interpreted as a source of information on leading industry experts views and opinions. The advertising executives recruited formed a good sample of informants since the aim was to nd out how responsibility is understood in the industry. All these people are experienced informants who are well networked and who have an in-depth knowledge of the debate and discussion going on in the industry. The data for this research were thus collected in what may be described as elite interviews with leading experts in society (e.g. Welch et al., 2002). Decision-makers in business and industry, public administration and politics are such elite groups by virtue of their major inuence on organizational decision-making, on employees and on society more generally. The themes covered in the interview schedule included the following: 1. How is responsibility and responsible business understood in the advertising industry and organizations? 2. How is responsibility understood as opposed to irresponsibility? 3. What responsibilities do advertising agencies and designers have, to whom are they answerable? 4. What are the most critical points of responsibility in the strategies and processes of marketing communications? 5. How big a challenge is the development of responsible business practices to the organizations of advertising industry?

Stakeholders at the core of responsible business


The analysis in this article of advertising business is informed by stakeholder thinking. A companys stakeholders consist of groups who can sway and inuence the companys operation or who themselves can be swayed and inuenced by the company. In contrast to traditional ethics theories and approaches, stakeholder theories turn the focus of analysis to the practical questions of business decision-making and development (e.g. Buchholz and Rosenthal, 2002; see also Carroll and Buchholtz, 2003, p. 70.) The development of responsible business practices in the advertising industry is grounded in the idea that all industry actors contribute to the promotion of responsible business and show respect towards other stakeholders. In responsible advertising, both the advertising company and the designers of their advertisements will carefully weigh and try to anticipate the reactions of different stakeholder groups and their representatives to a planned advertising campaign. (Polonsky and Hyman, 2007.) This article identies different dimensions of responsible business conduct in advertising. For the purposes of this analysis a distinction is made between economic stakeholders and cultural stakeholders. In addition, there are institutional stakeholders such as authorities and other public agencies. Using this scheme, we can study what kind of stakeholders and related values and interests are involved in the advertising business. First, economic or business stakeholders are partners that are concretely or contractually involved in the companys business operations. In the advertising industry such partnerships are formed between advertisers and agencies that provide expert services in marketing and advertising. Other possible partners include communications and media agencies, production companies, and research and consultancy companies. Second, cultural stakeholders consist of consumers and various consumer groups and organizations. Informed and discerning consumers have ever-higher expectations of transparent, reliable and responsible business conduct. The calls and demands for responsible business apply increasingly to advertisers, advertising agencies and advertising designers as well: this is because advertising campaigns contribute signicantly to shaping and steering public debate in society as well as peoples attitudes and cultural values.

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For instance, there is heated public debate on whether advertising aimed at children should be regulated, as well as on the impacts of advertising images on the identity construction, body image and sexuality of young people. Various feminist groups and media researchers, among others, have referred to the pornocation of advertising. The focus in this article, then, is to analyse the responsibility of the advertising business, with special reference to the challenges that lie ahead for the profession. We begin by looking more closely at the economic and cultural roles of advertising.

The economic role of advertising


Advertising agencies and experts have their own role to play in promoting the business of their client companies. How, then, do advertising opinion leaders see the role of marketing communications in business? Which aspects of their clients business do they feel they are responsible for? And what is the role of advertising professionals in creating and shaping the future of ethical organizations and businesses? The process of marketing communications and advertising can be analysed into a series of chains of events: these are the stages of strategic thinking and the planning, production and distribution of marketing communications. This provides at once a useful illustration of the evolution and profound changes that have happened in the advertising industry. According to the experts interviewed, the role of advertising businesses has been extended and enlarged from producers of advertisements to business management consultants. Furthermore, many advertising experts feel they have a responsibility to promote their clients marketing and branding know-how more generally. The following looks more closely at advertising experts views on these roles. Strategic partner There is an ongoing trend of differentiation in the advertising industry, with the formation of two types of companies that provide expert services. The business of advertising agencies consists largely of the design and production of advertisements and other activities of marketing communication. In other words, these traditional advertising agencies sell advertisements to their clients. On the other hand, many advertising agencies have developed a business concept that leans more heavily towards business management consultancy. Their aim is to achieve a status of strategic partner with their clients. Marketing decisions thus have increasingly far-reaching implications for companies business operations as well as organizational ethics as a whole. In its capacity as a strategic advisor, the advertising agency has ongoing dialogue with the management of the client. Even though representatives of the advertising agency are not directly responsible for the clients business success, they do more and more often voice their opinions about other than purely marketing issues. These dialogues also provide the occasion for establishing the general guidelines for ethical and responsible marketing. Indeed many advertising experts believe that these strategic discussions between advertisers and the advertising agency are one the most important forums and actions in setting the general course for ethical marketing communications. It is here that key strategic decisions are made that govern the production of advertising in practice. Many advertising experts are keen to emphasize that the responsible advertising agency must have the daring and courage to question the advertisers views, principles and objectives if it is felt that they are wrong or possibly even detrimental to the clients business. This is sharply different from views on the responsibilities of the professional subcontractor, for instance. The strategic partners role and responsibility is thus to analyse the advertisers business not only from the present but also the future point of view. It is necessary to assess how different

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actions of marketing communications will affect the companys brand, and how far this will be reected in public perceptions of the company. Advertising agencies are also experts in the management of risks associated with clients and consumers. The more the company is in the public limelight, the more attention it needs to pay to consumers views and opinions on responsibility. Every ethical decision made by the company on its business may impact the value of its brand. Ambassador of marketing Many advertising agency directors feel they are also responsible for developing the advertising industry and enhancing its reputation. It is considered a matter of high priority to foster excellence and professionalism in the industry. Likewise, advertising executives feel they have a duty to raise the level of marketing know-how in their client companies. Many advertising executives considered it one of their most important tasks to increase the awareness and appreciation among company managers of the fact that in the current intangible economy, well-managed brands, marketing and advertising are major competitive assets. They refer to a sense of vocation, even a social mission to develop and advocate marketing thinking. Marketing communications and advertising are comparatively new professions and are not associated with the production of social value added in the same way as the work done by, say, the medical profession. In strong professions such as medicine, there is a well-established tradition to foster awareness of the social responsibilities related to expert authority. The social rhetoric of opinion leaders in the Finnish advertising industry is grounded in the idea that the advertising company should also contribute to the growth of the national economy. There is nothing new about the advertising business adopting this self-proclaimed status as engine of the national economy; American advertising professionals used to speak in similar terms as far back as the early twentieth century. Advertising experts like to market themselves as innovators of the modern age, insisting that their work promotes material and cultural development in society. (Walker Laird, 1998, p. 6; see also Jackall and Hirota, 2000.) Opinion leaders in advertising feel they also have a responsibility for the development of the common economy. Many advertising experts say that successful marketing is a responsible undertaking in the interest of the whole nation, for it makes it possible for companies to succeed, grow, create new jobs and pay more taxes. Companies with responsible business strategies follow and incorporate the principles of responsibility in their marketing and corporate branding as well. In this kind of socially conscious marketing and advertising, the professionals involved take close account of the needs and expectations of all the various stakeholder groups.

The cultural role of advertising


Advertising professionals are designers and creators of images and meanings. They are a group of cultural intermediaries: the practices of marketing communication shape and inuence not only the development of companies business, but also the public debate in society as well as consumers attitudes and their ascription of meanings (Bourdieu, 1984; see also, e.g. Featherstone, 1991, pp. 43-7; Richards et al., 2000, pp. 3-4, 244; Cronin, 2000, pp. 48-9). For this reason advertisers and advertising professionals can also be expected to show cultural responsibility, a sense that they care about citizens everyday life. Following the principles of responsible business, companies must be able to market their products and services in such a way that they take account of the expectations not only of their main target groups, but other stakeholder groups as well. Responsible marketing aims to achieve the business targets specied, but in a manner that respects different stakeholder groups.

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So what does cultural responsibility mean in the context of advertising? What kind of ` -vis consumers? What kind of ethical responsibility do advertising experts feel vis-a considerations must advertisers and advertising experts take into account in sending messages to consumers? How do advertising agencies and professionals inuence the development of societys values and the formation of citizens values? These are the main questions we address below. Arouser of attention Business success in the marketplace requires public attention. However, it is increasingly difcult for advertisers to get that attention, to get consumers to notice their products and services. Competition in this attention economy is continuing to get tougher: there is more of everything in the media, more channels and more messages and more competitors and target groups. Advertising lies at the very core of the attention economy in that very often changes in business strategies or advances in product development are slow processes. Advertising, by comparison, offers a fast track to distinction and differentiation, to attracting the attention of consumers to ones brand or the companys products. The pursuit of economic success by means of the attention economy often leads to excesses as well. Sometimes advertisements are planned to attract attention and to elicit interest at any cost and by whatever means, without giving too much thought to whether it all makes sense from the point of view of future business or whether it shows appropriate responsibility towards citizens. Advertising is given too much of a challenge if the client wants to run a campaign that consumers will notice and remember, but does not allocate sufcient budget resources that allow for major, distinctive actions. For this reason it is not uncommon that advertisements aims to shock and startle the consumer by the use of bold themes and vulgar stories, testing the boundaries of decency, sometimes even crossing the line. Advertisements that are tougher and raunchier than usual are certain to grab the consumers attention but also give rise to debate. As a rule, the questions raised about the responsibility of advertising concern its exceptions, its gravest excesses. The forms of advertising are rapidly evolving, and its renewing means and tools are pushing the boundaries of acceptability more often than in many other industries. Another reason why advertising innovations often attract moral debate is that they are so highly visible and receive so much public attention. In fast-changing industries, new boundaries are often dened in reaction to transgressions of those boundaries. The boundaries for the use of new forms and means of marketing must be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. The transgression of boundaries is necessary because it is only then that serious debate is started on new phenomena. The denition of new boundaries is a learning process for the industry, and provides useful guidance for adopting a stance in subsequent similar cases. This applies to media imagery more generally. Excesses and transgressions are most immediately apparent in visual communication, and it is easier to discuss these cases than it is to deal with more abstract media phenomena. In particular, nudity and porn-like imagery in advertisements is a constant source of heated debate. As far as advertising executives are concerned the contents and visual representations of advertising are not often especially provocative when compared to many other media representations. Many advertising experts feel that advertisements are often used as a scapegoat for the loosening of media morals, even if the same phenomena are seen more clearly and more intensely elsewhere in the media. Many advertising experts emphasize that advertisements are just one part of the media. The responsibility of advertising, they insist, should be considered in the broader context of

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media ethics. In particular, it is felt that the print press enjoys a position of undue privilege. In the name of freedom of speech, journalism produces such contents and images that in advertising would be rejected and forbidden out of hand.

Shaper of the environment The single biggest challenge for the advertising industry is presented by media fragmentation. There is relatively broad consensus among advertising professionals that there is need for more expertise and understanding in the industry about the fragmentation and diversication of the media. The continuing fragmentation of the media brings to the fore questions about both economic and cultural responsibility in advertising. Publicity has become an increasingly commercialized space. In the media, virtually everything is geared to promoting something (e.g. Wernick, 1991). This has led to a situation where brands and commercial messages are more and more closely interwoven with other media content not just in economic terms, but also in terms of expression. At the same time, it is often difcult for the consumer to distinguish between promotional content and entertainment or news elements in the media. Advertisers no longer appear only during advertising breaks, or in traditional slots and spaces allocated for advertisements, but they are integrated more and more systematically as part of other media. The placement of products and brands in lms, television programmes and in console games, for instance, is another rapidly growing marketing phenomenon. The growth of brand and product placement and the need for restrictions have also attracted much debate and discussion. Advertising professionals take three very different views on brand and product placement. First, some experts take the view that placement is a natural and integral part of modern media. As far as they are concerned it is an inevitable part of the future of marketing. In other words, these experts do not consider the commercial placement of brands and products in the media as problematic in any way. One reason for this is that it is thought ultimately to be down to consumers to decide whether a television programme or newspaper article is a product that interests them and whether it has a real chance of succeeding in the future. Second, some advertising executives take a neutral stance on brand and product placement. They do not consider this a particularly important or interesting issue, but simply as one aspect of the changing media scene. Many experts take a moderate moral stance on placement because the media carry so much violent and pornographic imagery that product promotions, by comparison, are a much less serious ethical issue. The third group of advertising experts takes a staunchly critical stance on brand and product placement. Some executives consider it outright distasteful and despicable. Placement is criticized mainly on grounds that it is difcult for consumers to know when a certain brand or product appears in the media for commercial purposes. Traditional advertisements are considered open and transparent in the sense that consumers understand that their purpose is to persuade them to buy. The growing penetration of advertising concerns not only media contents, but the urban environment as well. Brands and logos are spreading throughout society: they are a visible part both of the media and the urban environment, its streets, squares and shopping centres. Many advertising experts are dubious about the penetration of marketing into peoples everyday life. The advertising industry, too, is critical of the trend which has seen marketing spread to places where it is not necessarily welcome, such as the urban environment. Advertisers and advertising agencies have come in for much criticism among other reasons for contaminating peoples visual environment. This is seen precisely as an indication of advertisers lack of social responsibility companies are accused of sacricing peoples everyday pleasures at the expense of companies business interests.

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Traditional industry bears its own responsibility for the sensible use of natural resources and the cleanliness of the environment. This is referred to as environmental responsibility. In the advertising business, environmental responsibility in its traditional sense nds concrete expression in the type of materials used (paper, packaging materials), the sourcing of those materials and the environmental burden of the manufacturing process. In practice, the environmental responsibility of the advertising industry is mainly about assuming responsibility for the media environment, as advertisers and advertising designers have an ever greater impact on how the public space is constructed. The media environment is composed of the audio and visual elements of newspapers, television, websites and radio, but also of billboards, neon signs, logos, tabloid posters. Advertising that follows the principles of responsible business takes account of the values and needs of its clients and targets groups, but also of the assumptions and expectations of citizens and consumer associations and other stakeholder groups. Advertising professionals weighs the various possible ways in which billboard images, for instance, can be experienced, interpreted and understood before they are erected. This way it will be able to also anticipate what kinds of ethical issues may emerge in the ensuing public debate. Shapers of values There is widespread concern in society today about how the media and advertising are impacting peoples everyday life. Advertisers are traditionally held responsible for a whole array of social problems. Critics have described advertising as the ultimate caricature of capitalism, an exercise in manipulation geared to distorting peoples needs and hopes and bringing them in line with businesses prot motives. The thinking is that advertising shapes attitudes and creates values, which then steer the behaviour of consumers (see also Gustafson, 2001). Advertisers have been blamed for young peoples obesity and unhealthy eating habits, for the growth of anorexia and for distorted body images. But what is the role of advertising in the formation of social values? And how do advertising experts believe marketing impacts the values of individual citizens? Advertising experts take the view that marketing cannot be isolated from other social or economic debate on values. Since advertising is a tool of business competition in market economy, its responsibility must be considered in the wider context of moral debate in society at large. It is often difcult for professionals to connect everyday creative decisions with the unfolding of broader social phenomena. The social impacts of advertising are not direct, but indirect. They are often of a structural nature, evolving slowly and incrementally. Some advertising experts suspect that it may be difcult to identify abstract social consequences and mechanisms in everyday advertising because the work they do with advertisers is very practically-minded and business-oriented. The assessment of the social impacts of advertising depends largely on the client company. In some industries the companys social relations are a matter of routine assessment, in others the social consequences of business are hardly considered at all. In many of these companies the analysis of broader social responsibilities is ignored and sidelined because instead of long-term future scenarios, management is preoccupied with running the everyday business. There is a strong sense among advertising experts that rather than steering society and culture, advertising simply reects what is happening in society and culture. Even though it is acknowledged that advertising does inuence consumption behaviour, for instance, that has little bearing on peoples fundamental values. As far as advertising experts are concerned, advertising does not create values, but takes advantage of existing values. For purposes of marketing it is important to try and detect new trends and phenomena and to make good use of them. In the words of one expert,

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advertising is not about consciously trying to shape and steer values in society, but about trying to gain commercial benet from prevailing values. Advertisements are just a thin slice of modern media, and this applies to their impact on citizens values as well. Many advertising experts are adamant that the media more generally, such as tabloids and magazines reporting on the mishaps of celebrities, have a much greater impact on peoples values and attitudes than advertisements. Yet advertising is at the receiving end of much and harsh criticism. One reason why advertising gures so prominently in public debate on social values is that advertisements encapsulate these social ills and problems in such an easily debatable form. Indeed, it is important for the responsible advertiser to look ahead and anticipate how different stakeholders will respond to advertising campaigns and what kind of debate these campaigns will stir up. Advertisements do not and cannot regulate what people think or say, but they do have an inuence on what people talk about and what concepts and angles they use. It is for this reason that advertising agency experts feel they shape and inuence cultural development through their involvement in advertising campaigns that are aimed at promoting social issues. Many advertising agencies offer their expertise to what they consider important and socially valuable organizations free of charge. Advertising professionals also feel that social advertising gives them the opportunity to put their professionalism to good use in the promotion of the common good. Advertising professionals feel that they are rst and foremost responsible to their clients, to the advertiser. It is typical of the advertising community that industry actions are marketed and justied to clients, but other stakeholders are largely ignored. The emphasis is rmly on business targets and business responsibilities, whereas questions of social responsibility seem remote and alien. The advertising industry often takes a rather indifferent attitude to wider social issues. Advertising, it seems, is internationally a rather self-centred professional culture. Based on their interviews with advertising professionals working in different jobs in American agencies, Minette Drumwright and Patrick Murphy conclude that advertising experts have great difculty identifying the moral and social impacts of their work; and on the other hand that when do recognize these impacts, advertising professionals rarely raise public debate about them. (Drumwright and Murphy, 2004.) Advertising professionals are interested in social themes and concerns if they are central to their client companies strategies. Agencies have not yet adopted the principles of responsible business as part of their everyday operation and strategic decision-making.

Conclusion: diverging responsibilities in the advertising business


Questions of responsible business conduct usually surface if and when there is a threat of cultural and social interests being overshadowed by business prot motives. A responsible business is expected to show foresight in its decision-making, to think how its decisions will impact the company, its stakeholders and the future of society at large. In other words, one of the key issues in responsible business is what the organization should do if it has diverging, irreconcilable responsibilities that pull it in different directions (e.g. Fisher and Lovell, 2006). How can a company decide whose interests are to be given precedence in a situation where the expectations of different stakeholder groups cannot be reconciled? In the advertising industry, this is a particularly intriguing question, and one that has much current interest. The immediate goal for advertising professionals is to promote the advertisers business, and at the same time to contribute to the success of the advertising agency and to promote the careers of advertising designers and other experts. This is a typical source of conicting pressures and interests in the advertising industry. Can the diverging responsibilities and interests be reconciled? Whose interests are the advertising agency and advertising expert

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working to promote? Whose interests are given priority in advertising design? The advertising companys, the advertising agencys, or the advertising designers? First of all, experts working in advertising agencies say that they are primarily answerable to their clients, to the advertising company. In the advertising business social responsibility is understood rst and foremost in terms of responsibility for the bottom line. Executives of Finnish advertising agencies consider it their prime responsibility to ensure the protability of their clients as well as their own business. Advertisers often invest considerable sums in individual advertisements and campaigns. It is the advertising agencys and advertising experts responsibility to spend these monies in such a way that they can produce as effective and high-quality advertising as possible. Traditionally, advertising agencies have been in the business of selling advertising design and production services. This has implied a professional subcontractor role for the advertising agency. Advertising experts consider it extremely important that the advertisements and other measures designed and produced by the advertising agency have been done professionally, since these measures and their quality are highly visible criteria for the evaluation of responsibility. Another characteristic of responsible advertising mentioned by advertising agency executives is the overall thoroughness and transparency of business operations. The advertising agency has a responsibility to make clear to the advertiser the motivations and rationale that lie behind all proposed actions. If high quality management procedures are in place, the advertising company will also be able to feel condent in trusting the agencys professionalism, timetables and the legality of all marketing materials. Many advertising experts consider it their most important responsibility to make sure that the advertisements they produce achieve the goals and targets set by the client company. The advertising agency is responsible for ensuring that the actions attain the advertising targets set: that they attract attention, provide information, engender impressions, create awareness and increase desirability. On the other hand, advertising agencies also bear responsibility for the business objectives that have been specied for marketing. Second, advertising professionals are also responsible to their employers, i.e. to the advertising agency. Advertising professionals must take account of the interests of the company they represent, its owners and management. Creatives are expected to produce high quality, distinctive and effective advertising that helps to make the agency a more attractive partner to the advertising company. The responsibilities to the client company and to ones own company are often convergent, i.e. if the client is happy with how the process has gone and with the end result, then as a rule the employer, the advertising agency will be happy as well. On the other hand, it is crucially important for the success of the advertising agency that its employees are satised. Companies that offer marketing and advertising services are typical examples of intangible economy organizations where business success depends on the skills and commitment of staff and management. Third, advertising experts feel it is important to promote their own careers as well. Some designers are thought to use the advertising companys campaigns chiey for purposes of building up their own brand, enhancing their own reputation. A typical instance would be where the designer persuades the advertiser to take on a more daring and radical campaign than was initially intended. In these cases, the failure of the campaign to reach the advertisers goals will be of no concern to the selsh advertising agency if it has attracted so much attention for its creativity that that enhances the agencys own reputation. For example, studies among advertising professionals in London agencies showed that their choices and decisions were often been motivated purely by interests of personal reputation. The creative designers interviewed in London said it was their primary goal to promote their own career rather than to develop the business of the advertising company or the advertising agency. (Nixon, 2003, pp. 88-91; Cronin, 2004, pp. 63-4.)

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Many experts working in advertising agencies regard themselves as independent entrepreneurs, and the best way for them to get ahead in their career is to win advertising awards. In fact, research has shown that as far as advertising designers are concerned, overly cautious and conservative advertisers inhibit creative and ambitious advertising design, making it much harder for them to produce innovative advertising that will convince colleagues and award committees. (Nixon, 2003, pp. 88-9.) Fourth, advertising professionals also inuence the reputation of the industry and its operating environment. Advertising experts consider it their economic responsibility to promote the business of the client company by means of marketing. They believe this will be reected in the success of their own company and in the growth of the whole industry. The biggest obstacle that stands in the way of advertising gaining a stronger social role is the professional culture of competition, which effectively precludes debate on the wider role and function of the professional community. Advertising businesses and individual designers are good at promoting their own interests, but they are less interested in advocating the community interests of the industry as a whole. Rather than pooling its resources to promote the industrys common cause, the advertising business is locked in internal competition. These internal conicts are draining the resources and energies of advertising professionals and undermining their economic potential as well as their cultural esteem. For advertising professionals, then, the question of how to prioritize stakeholders is a particularly challenging one. It is usually the company operator that is expected to show responsibility in its business practices, but in the marketing communications eld personal choices by individual experts are exceptionally important as well. In practice, advertising professionals are responsible for their actions to virtually everyone. The bigger picture, therefore, has to incorporate the interests of both the advertising company, the advertising agency and the individual designer. Fourth, advertising designers and the work they do impacts and shapes the operating environment of the whole industry. Fifth, the choices made by designers impact the everyday life of consumers and other citizens. And sixth, advertising professionals must also take account of the interests of consumer bodies and authorities charged with governing and regulating the ethics of advertising. Although the ethics and social consequences of advertising largely remain a matter of self-regulation by advertisers, advertising agencies and advertising designers, there are also various authorities and committees and other public agencies in organized society that are ofcially charged with regulating advertising.

Note
1. The interviewed advertising executives were: Taru From, Managing Director, Taivas; Ami Hasan, Chairman, hasan & partners; Arto Heimonen, Managing Director, SEK & GREY Oy; Petteri Kilpinen, ki, Planning Director, SEK & GREY Oy; Managing Director, TBWA\PHS Helsinki Oy; Niko Kokonma kinen, Strategy Director, SEK & Tommi Laiho, Strategy Director, TBWA\PHS Helsinki Oy; Marco Ma GREY Oy; Alex Nieminen, Managing Director, hasan & partners; Mikko Pekkala, Copywriter, Publicis Helsinki; Jukka Peltonen, Managing Director, Taivas; Timi Petersen, Creative Director, hasan & nkko , Creative partners; Jari-Pekka Rautamaa, Managing Director, Publicis Helsinki; Markku Ro Director, copywriter, TBWA\PHS Helsinki Oy; Anna Sorainen, Communications Director, Publicis Helsinki; Kari Tervonen, Strategy Director, Kuulas Research Agency.

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Corresponding author
Nando Malmelin can be contacted at: nando.malmelin@a-lehdet.

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VOL. 11 NO. 1 2010 BUSINESS STRATEGY SERIES PAGE 53