Latest American Apparel`s sexually charged advert for their miniskirt.
US Company, American Apparel, have caused uproar numerous time with their advertising policy of running sexually charged adverts in order to promote sales.
Their latest advert of the mini skirt has seen protest groups take up arms against the Company. Consequently, a number of their adverts have been banned for being inappropriate in countries such as the UK.
The question that therefore comes is this; is it appropriate to run such controversial yet legal adverts to promote your business? After all, they say there is no such thing as bad publicity.
Should your own advertising model, therefore, ignore the social and ethical implications of the material that is contained in your commercials?
The focus of this article is therefore on the ethics of advertising. How people swing when it comes to ethics depends entirely on the individual.
That is why you find that some people will not have any qualms about entering into the adult industry while others are only comfortable with chasing their ambitions up to a certain point.
Therefore I just thought I would mention the point that at the end of the day it is entirely up to you and your personal values, how you advertise. As long as it is legal, it is up to you what you include in that advert.
A business ethics model basically focuses on a framework that examines ethical principles, and moral or ethical problems that arise in a business environment. These are issues that fall outside the legal framework and hence are left to the business owner to use his own discretion.
This, therefore, gives rise to the need to have an additional framework of responsibility that holds Business owners to account for any unethical actions they may take, such as inappropriate advertising.
Such a framework is called the ethical responsibility framework for business. This framework is drawn up by different industry bodies that police the behavior of businesses and hold them to account when they breach their social responsibilities within their respective industries.
Our society also has its own ethical framework. Although society`s ethical framework may not be explicitly written, it is based on a silent understanding between business and society that certain behavior is not acceptable.
Do not be naive to think that if it is not written then it is open season. The last thing you want is a protest group outside your offices early in the morning because of socially unacceptable advertising and behavior on your part.
Now coming back advertising, you as a business have a social responsibility to send the right message about your business to the world. When you run an advert, you are basically telling the world what your whole organization stands for.
Therefore while it is up to you to decide what material you are comfortable with running in your advert, society places a moral expectation and responsibility on you. Young people look up to you as an entrepreneur for inspiration.
What message would you like to project to them about yourself as well as your business? It is not about what you can get away with, but what legacy you want to leave for those that you inspire.
So what are the repercussions of not having a credible ethical framework?
It is possible, though not absolute, that your business will suffer. Your customers come from society, and so if you do things that upset society you are basically upsetting potential customers.
Consequently, your sales may be badly affected by unethical decisions that you may choose to make. American Apparel is a classic example which shows that sometimes crossing society`s ethical boundaries does not necessarily result in positive results.
In spite of running sexually charged commercials, the company has accumulated losses of over $270 million since 2010, according to Bloomberg. Their irrelevant advertising has not made a shred of difference to the company`s fortunes.
Therefore I have put together some of the issues you may wish to include in your own advertising framework.
Your advertising should not mislead the customers about your products and services. You should always be honest about what you do and what you are selling. Do not exaggerate what you can offer customers.
Secondly, you must understand and observe advertising regulations within your local area. Your commercials must not breach any existing laws and regulations.
We have already talked about it but I will mention it one last time. Your adverts must NOT be obscene, vulgar, or indecent. They must be socially acceptable.
You must also understand the cultural environment in which your business operates. While some adverts may be acceptable in some cultural settings, they may be offensive in others. You must therefore study and understand the society within which you operate your business.
Therefore, in conclusion, the way you advertise matters. Do not use sexually offensive methods of advertising for your products.
It doesn’t always work and the consequences of doing so may outweigh the intended results. Use humor-charged adverts instead.
Humour has equally high potential to leave lasting impressions on people and the good thing is that it will also win you a lot more friends.