I do not believe that all forms of advertising should be banned. They should only be banned if they are offensive, derogatory, inappropriate, misleading, stereotypical, distasteful, controversial or discriminatory. The definition of an advertisement is “an announcement about something in a newspaper, poster or on radio and television”. If all forms of advertising were banned charities would not be able to increase support on such a large scale, as many people often find out about new charities they wish to support by reading about them or seeing advertisements on the television.
In this essay I am going to refer to several examples of advertising, which can be found at the end, to show what I think is an unacceptable standard of advertising.
One of the most controversial advertisements that has recently been shown is for the Land Rover Freelander. The image depicts a Himba woman from Namibia in traditional dress, which consists of a skirt made of various pieces of material wrapped around her waist and what looks like a leather bag or pouch with a shoulder strap and a naked upper body. This advertisement brought an outcry from Women’s Rights Groups, Human Rights Groups and the Advertising Standards Authority, as it is sexist, racist and tasteless. The computer manipulation of her body is very degrading and pokes fun at her culture, traditions and way of dress. The fact that her breasts seem involuntarily, sexually drawn towards the Land Rover Freelander is an example of exploitation of the way she dresses, as Land Rover would probably not have found another woman who naturally walks around half-naked.
As she is a tribes woman and most probably very poor all she can do is yearn for the car, for she will never be able to have it. This is shown in her expression as she looks longingly after the car. In her expression there is also a sense of non-understanding. This implies that women or racial minorities do not comprehend the power and greatness of cars or engines, it is stereotyping women and racial minorities. In a world where equality is sought by a large number of women and racial minorities, it is a subject that has always to be taken into consideration. In this advertisement the producers have not contemplated the reaction of the public. It was meant to be humorous but it provides a very cheap laugh at the expense of the Himba tribes woman.
The Centrepoint advertisement is shocking, but not overly. It is the information we are given by the text that horrifies the reader the most. As most people have been to London and seen the number of homeless people, it would be like three or four of the people they had seen that day committing suicide. Some readers may find the black and white image of a homeless person who has, presumably just killed themselves, lying on dirty ground disturbing. You can see that the person in the picture is obviously young and it is depressing that they should have to turn to suicide as a means of escape. The image radiates desperation and sadness due to its lack of colour. This was done deliberately to show that the homeless have a very plain, simple and poor quality of life. I can not think of any group of people that may be offended by this advertisement. If all advertising was banned hardly anybody would know about the plight of homeless people. I had not heard of this charity before I read this advertisement and neither had many people who I asked.
I do feel that the Bernardo’s advertisement is offensive, stereotypical, distasteful and unnecessarily shocking. The image of a 15 month old baby preparing to inject itself with heroin in a dark, filthy alleyway may make some readers feel repulsed by the image. The advertisement may be so odious that many readers may move on to the next page with out even noticing the charity it is advertising. This would be the complete opposite to what Bernardo’s want as they need to attract attention, not turn it away, to raise money and help more children. There again the advertisement may draw the eye of the reader, as it is so revolting. When the reader sees what charity is being advertised by such a disgusting image the reader may turn against Bernardo’s for voluntarily subjecting a child to such conditions if they did not know what precautions were taken when the photo was taken.
It is stereotyping people with a disturbed childhood into drugs addicts by there early twenties. Although the advert says “Battered as a child it was always possible that John would turn to drugs.” The human eye picks up on positive words such as ‘always’ and ‘would’. If the reader were just scanning the advertisement their brain would think it is saying that because John was battered as a child he would turn into a drug addict. This is not true as many people overcome their past troubles and start again. The message in this advertisement could be presented in a much less shocking way. Bernardo’s could have changed the picture to a child who’s eyes show despair and say that as John grew up he became more dependant on drugs as he had no-one to turn to at home but Bernardo’s could help him get through the ordeal. It could be said that the image is showing children how to use drugs, a child of approximately eleven or twelve years of age may think that the advertisement is encouraging drug use, as they probably will not read the caption with it.
The image for the RSPCA’s campaign to expose the suffering caused by long distance live animal transport shows a dead Dartmoor Pony impaled on a hook through its neck. This is completely irrelevant to the cause that the RSPCA are fighting for. The method of slaughter is totally unconnected to the length of the journey to get to the slaughterhouse. The image that they have shown is actually giving false information to the reader as the procedure used in the slaughter of ponies is very different. The RSPCA staged this scenario to provide a shocking image for the consumer. This is a very controversial image as some parties may argue that such a powerful picture is necessary as the public have been numbed by similar but not as powerful images. The other party may argue that this picture should not be shown because if the public have to keep being shocked the images shown will gradually become more and more offensive as the readers become unaffected by pictures which a couple of years ago would have astonished them.
Another form of advertising that must not be overlooked is that on the television and radio. The time of day when advertisements are shown has to be considered very carefully as it may inappropriate viewing for some young children. If this is so the advertisement must be shown after the watershed. The parents or guardians of the child will be aware of this so if their child is watching television after this set time it is their own fault if their child is in contact with unsuitable material. The advertisements also have to be acceptable for the viewing of the adult population. If any advertisements were completely intolerable there would be such an outcry they would have to be withdrawn almost immediately. It is because of this that not many advertisements are made that would be labeled unacceptable, as it would be a waste of money to produce unusable material. If there was no advertising allowed on television there would be no income for ITV or channel four as they rely on advertising for their income.
Advertisements on the radio would have to contain swearing, misleading or untrue information for them to be banned. On some radio station there is an advertisement that gives a telephone number you can ring if you find an advertisement inappropriate or discriminatory.
All forms of advertising would never be banned as too many people rely on advertising for a job and many large companies would become bankrupt such as ITV and Channel Four, which I have already mentioned.
I think all forms of advertising should not be banned as too many people would loose their jobs and only a small percentage of advertisements are considered unacceptable by the laws of the Advertising Code. If advertisements need to be monitored closer then a cross section of the society with all backgrounds, racial groups, classes, ages and views should be asked if they think the advertisement is acceptable or unacceptable. This would be very easy to organize in the modern day with so many households owning a computer and access to the Internet. They could be e-mailed a copy before general release and reply with their views and thoughts on the advertisements.