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Business Ethics MMM-2009-12

Advertising in India
The importance of advertising has grown in modern society. Just as the media of social communication themselves have enormous influence everywhere, so advertising, using media as its vehicle, is a pervasive, powerful force shaping attitudes and behavior in today's world. The field of advertising is extremely broad and diverse. In general terms, of course, an advertisement is simply a public notice meant to convey information and invite patronage or some other response. As that suggests, advertising has two basic purposes: to inform and to persuade, and while these purposes are distinguishable both very often are simultaneously present.

Advertising creates a consumer culture in which the foundation of societys values and goals is based upon purchasing new products regardless of their need or usefulness. overall society. But, when people fail to practice "a rigorous respect for the moral, cultural and spiritual requirements, based on the dignity of the person and on the proper identity of each community, beginning with the family and religious societies," then even material abundance and the conveniences that technology makes available "will prove unsatisfying and in the end contemptible." In this way advertising has adverse effects on the

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The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory voluntary organisation of the advertising industry, also has a code in place that asks advertisers "To ensure that advertisements are not offensive to generally accepted standards of public decency. Advertisements should contain nothing indecent, vulgar or repulsive which is likely, in the light of generally prevailing standards of decency and propriety, to cause grave or widespread offence.

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Regulation on Advertising
Advertisers should ensure that their ads are not offensive or violating the laws of the land. Ads should not violate the basic standards of decency, morality and religious beliefs of viewers. In India, certain ethics must be followed while creating ads. Legal actions can be taken against advertisements that Ridicule caste, race, nationality, color and creed. Goes against any provision of the Indian Constitution. Incite people towards criminal activity, provocative, cause disorder and/or violence in the country.

Breach laws and/or glorify obscenity or violence in any form. Glorify terrorism, communal massacres, and criminality and so on. Ridicule the father of the nation, the national emblem, part of Constitution or the image of a national leader or a state dignitary. Depict women in a deprecating manner. Females should not be portrayed in a manner that is obscene, exploitative or vulgar. Display distasteful visual content that goes beyond the established norms of good taste and decency.

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Exploit and encourage social evils like child marriage, bride burning and dowry system.

What is the difference between unethical and ethical advertising? UNETHICAL ADVERTISING is falsehood to deceive the public. Today, too,

some advertisers consciously seek to shock and titillate by exploiting content of a morbid, perverse, pornographic nature. Advertising sometimes is used to promote products and inculcate attitudes and forms of behavior contrary to moral norms. ETHICAL ADVERTISING uses truthful facts to deceive the public. Ethics are standards or moral values which dictate what is right and what is wrong, or good or bad, which are: culturally-based and formed based upon societys expectations, vary by situation and by person (everyone develops their own code of ethics) In a sense ethics really boils down to respect. Ethical people, ethical companies and ethical activities show respect for the world around them and are aware of the consequences of their actions upon others. 1. Permission will not be granted where objects are completely or largely religious or political in nature. Advertisements cannot be directed towards any religious or political end, or to gain mileage of any form. 2. Any goods or services that are advertised should not have any defect or deficiencies of any form declared in the Consumer Protection Act 1986. 3. Products should not be portrayed in a way that misleads the public to infer that the item has some special, miraculous or a super natural quality, which is anyways difficult to prove. 4. Picture and the audible matter of the advertisement video should not be excessively 'loud'.

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5. Advertisement should not endanger the safety of children or produce any sort of perversion or interest that prompts them to adopt or imitate unhealthy practices. 6. Any type of offensive, indecent, suggestive, vulgar, repulsive themes and/or treatment must be avoided under all circumstances. Good creative advertisement will always attract peoples attention, but they should have meaningful visual content. One shouldnt have an attitude to play with peoples sentiments and emotions.

According to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986: Advertisements which do not comply with these rules or which offend morality, decency and religious susceptibilities of subscribers will not be allowed. Religion, race, caste, color, creed, nationality, women and children are all protected. Social evils such as dowry or child marriage must not be exploited. Care must be taken not to incite people to crime, cause disorder or violence, breach the law or glorify violence or obscenity in any way. Criminality must not be presented as desirable. The national emblem, any part of the Constitution, or the person or personality of a national leader or a State dignitary must not be exploited. Advertisements wholly or mainly of a religious or political nature are explicitly disallowed. Any advertisement which endangers the safety of children or creates in them any interest in unhealthy practices or shows them begging or in an

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undignified or indecent manner shall not be carried in the cable service. Advertising to children should portray accurately the products in a way that is in keeping with their ability to understand. Ads for food should not show or encourage over-consumption. Parental guidance required for these ads. In ensuring proper food choices for children should not be undermined. Visual representation of foods and beverages should be true to fact. Care needs to be taken in the advertising of food and beverages to children under 13 especially ones containing relatively high levels of fat, sugar and salt. Ads should not encourage pester power nor imply duty or obligation. Ethical Principle in Advertising All advertising should be legal, decent, honest and truthful. Every advertisement should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility and should conform to the principles of fair competition, as generally accepted in business. No advertisement should be such as to impair public confidence in advertising. Effect of subsequent redress for contravention: While an advertiser's subsequent correction and appropriate redress for a contravention of the Code are desirable, they cannot excuse the original contravention of the Code. An advertiser should not engage in speculation or provide information intended to cause alarm and force action. Such actions include overstating the legal implications of a non- defined action.

Morality in Advertising
Morality is learned based on what we have been punished/ rewarded for. It measures honesty and knowledge of moral rules. Morality is conformity to ideals of right human conduct. The tag line of the ASCI say Regulate

yourself, or someone else will. So many ads with explicit scenes and double meaning words make it an embarrassment for families to sit and watch the

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TV together. Advertising agencies tend to go overboard, when it comes to selling a product. Double meaning words, sexuality, violence, misleading, false and offensive advertising videos are now a part of our life. For parents and teachers, the greatest worry pertains to how children will perceive and incorporate the meaning of these ads in their young minds. Judging an Ad as being suggestive, irrelevant in terms of the product its trying to sell or simply controversial is purely relative one may think. What may seem like a vulgar ad to the ASCI may seem innovative or appealing to the marketers, advertising agency and to consumer also. Most companies, that have made controversial ads that have either been banned from transmission or made to be released in highly censored forms, have recorded highest turnovers and improved market shares post the release of the so called inconsumable ads. Over the years, if Indian advertising companies have realised one thing its nothing but the fact that Sex sells and appeals more to the masses than maybe a good humorous creative commercial. Sex may indeed sell to the public and the masses of India but the Indian Advertising council and other associated legal authorities are not willing to buy the concept that easily. The Indian Advertising industry has seen many a controversial ad in the past 2 decades and most of them creating controversy on the basis of being vulgar, obscene and unfit for public consumption.

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Accounting for controversial ads, vulgar and obscene may not be the only reasons for raising an eyebrow or shaking up the authorities. What companies have also tried and experimented with often is brand

infringement. Explicitly referring to another companys product in an ad, either by boldly referring to the product or by using parts of its tagline, or any other means through which an attempt is made to hurt the companys brand value, is considered strictly out of the rule books of fair advertising. Advertisements which offend morality, decency and religious susceptibilities of viewers must not be allowed. Religion, race, caste, colour, creed, nationality, women and children are all protected. Social evils such as dowry or child marriage must not be exploited. Care must be taken not to incite people to crime, cause disorder or violence, breach the law or glorify violence or obscenity in any way. Criminality must not be presented as desirable. Advertisements have a significant influence on peoples behavior. As such, advertisers are encouraged to depict advertisements in a manner which promotes safe practices Indecent, vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive themes or treatment must be avoided in all advertisements. In addition, the picture and the audible matter of the advertisement must not be excessively loud. Women as Home makers Most of the standard commercials of FMCG brands will project women as mothers, home makers and caretakers of the

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family. She is the multi-dimensional person maneuvering all house hold work from cleaning dishes to getting the children ready for school, serving food to in laws and taking care of the husband. Rarely do we find women as corporate bigwigs or industry professional. They may risk her to be a teacher or a doctor at the maximum but seldom do we see her working in the office and drinking Horlicks. They just love to restrict women to the homely work with the paraphernalia that she needs to keep the home functional. Association of Women with colours We often find women in peach , white, pink and the lighter hues to symbolize virginity & purity. To an extent that the environment (read sets and location) are in lighter and passionate colours.The cosmetic brands tap on these colours as they match with their product colour plalate and also help them create a perception in the mind of the viewers that the virgin beauty is attainable. The pearl white glow and the strawberry kissed lips are realistic and can be achieved by the products. Symbols Personal Care and cosmetic brands have their range of products adapted in phallic shapes. We often find the perfume bottles, the containers in phallic shapes to enhance the effect of the product. Their advertisements reinforces

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the indirect usage of phallic symbols by taking suggestive pan shots of the containers, indirectly addressing sexuality

The current decade has had its share of some of the most controversial ads in the history of Indian Advertising from naked models to steamy showers we have seen it all! There may have been many that created a little ignorable noise, but were some that stood out and got noticed.


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Case Studies
Amul Macho The recently released Amul Macho TVC Crafted for Fantasies is in for a reality check. The commercial, created by the Pushpinder Singhowned Saints & Warriors, first hit television screens in the first week of April (2007), and raised quite a few eyebrows since then. So much so that the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) received a complaint, which terms the ad indecent and obscene? The ad in question has a newlywed woman entering a dhobi ghat (a place where clothes are washed, generally near the banks of a water body), as other women eye her curiously.

Regardless of their stares, the woman opens up her bundle of clothes and pulls out the first garment Amul Macho underwear belonging to her husband. She then starts brushing it, and through her expressions, it is clear that she fancies that the man is still wearing it. The women surrounding her are also taken in by her fantasy, so much so that when she raises a bat-like object (used to thrash the dirt out of clothes), the women actually wince at the thought of the man being thrashed like that. The ad ends with the young woman stretching the underwear in her hands, while the super and voiceover conclude, Amul Macho. Crafted for Fantasies


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The temptation to be mediocre and obvious is always there in underwear advertising. Its very easy to show skimpily clad women or have shots of men wearing innerwear. The above route was chosen by the agency in order to break the clutter What Saints & Warriors attempted to do was to make the underwear a surrogate for male sexuality. Though the agency believes think the ad is naughty, not vulgar the ad clearly reflects the amount of importance given by the agency towards morality while attempting to break the clutter.


Business Ethics MMM-2009-12

Akshay Kumar-Twinkle Levis campaign controversy

During the Levis Live Unbuttoned campaign at the Lakme Fashion Week in March 2009, Akshay Kumar when walking the ramp went to wife Twinkle who unzipped his jeans. The act was a publicity stunt by the brand. The actor was originally supposed to go to a fellow female model to get it unzipped instead he chose to go to his wife who was among the front row spectators. The act was called obscene and vulgar. After a petition was filed against the couple


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by a social activist, Twinkle was arrested and released soon after furnishing a fine of Rs. 950

Malaika Arora and Arbaaz Khan MR coffee ad controversy

A sleazy MR coffee ad that had the couple cozying up to each other and accompanied by the catch line, "Real pleasure cant come in an instant" raised a lot of dirt and was subsequently banned.


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In a 2008 directive to the television channels, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had prohibited the "transmission or re-transmission" of the "vulgar" Lux Cozy advertisement. The "lucky" scantily clad man in the ad Lux Cozy has the tagline Apna Luck Pehen Ke Chalo - is ogled at and gets a peck on the cheek by a grateful female for "finding" her lost dog.

An ad for VIP Frenchie X underwear showing a girl entering a room to find a young man in his underwear was also deemed obscene.


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Besides underwear, the other product that on the crosshairs of regulators is condoms. For a copywriter, it is quite challenging to churn out subtle ads for male contraceptives, when the nature of the product itself is explicit. The Pyar Hua Iqurar Hua ad for Nirodh condoms is only an exception. The airing of DKT's XXX Flavoured Dotted Condoms ads during the ICC Champions Trophy in 2007 had ruffled the feathers of both the Advertising Standards Council of India and the Censor Board.

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In the ad a man takes a sip of his drink and looks at an attractive woman on the other side of the room, and her neckline gets lower and diminishes with every sip.


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As he sips for the kill, he finds his shirt open. The woman is also playing the same game. The tagline says, Kucch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai (Anything is possible). The TVC was subsequently taken off air.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory voluntary organisation of the advertising industry, also has a code in place that asks advertisers "To ensure that advertisements are not offensive to generally accepted standards of public decency. Advertisements should contain nothing indecent, vulgar or repulsive which is likely, in the light of generally prevailing standards of decency and propriety, to cause grave or widespread offence."


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Business Ethics MMM-2009-12

It can be seen that morality issues in marketing in the context of developing countries is highly sensitive to cultural, social and ethical issues. One hand we accepts the importance of advertising but on the other hand we cant avoid its bad impact on the society and culture. Due to the high competition today companies are accepting cheap and unethical equipments for advertising. These ads give wrong message to the society. If today new generation gains a wrong moral values and wrong method of living they will harm their health as well as mental analyzing power. And in future they will enable to give right message to their traits. We have to think about this unethical problem and this wrong presentation of business. So that we can give a good ethics to our youngsters.