Today the answer is more likely to be "make money." For Kanner, one explanation for that shift can be found in advertising."Advertising is a massive, multi-million dollar project that's having an enormous impact on child development," says Kanner, who is also an associate faculty member at a clinical psychology training program called the Wright Institute. "The sheer volume of advertising is growing rapidly and invading new areas of childhood, like our schools."
Linn believes that marketing anything to kids, even seemingly harmless toys like Silly Bandz, is unethical because kids haven’t developed a sophisticated filtering system. “They don’t have the same cognitive processes as adults,” she says of kids. “They are not teeny adults. They have notoriously faulty judgment.”
“If the ads are scrutinized for appropriateness and the revenue is specifically used to pay the bills, it might not be a bad idea,” said Susan Thomas, an employee at the Treasury Department. However, determining where to draw the line on appropriate advertising could prove to be a sticky issue.
Already today some comments on the Ten Facebook page were less than glowing, with several female posters expressing the sentiment that the campaign was sexist. Wrote one poster: “It’s wrong because it’s not only targeting males but is offensive to women. You can target males without insulting women …”
Another wrote: “Not for women?’ Most moronic slogan. Ever. Which advertising idiot are you going to have to fire when you start losing record sales?”
In 2004 Chris Moore, of the advertising giant Oglivy & Mather, explained that 80% of Americans said they felt better about companies that were aligned with social issues, and recent studies confirm that statistic.
Here are three charges leveled against advertisers:
They sell us dreams, entice us into confusing dreams with reality. They pander to our desires for things that are bad for us. They manipulate us into wanting things we don't really need.
In the absence of clearly defined regulations, there are legal, business and social implications of not taking into consideration ethical and social considerations. In many countries there are official organizations mandated to vet advertising to ensure it is not offensive, not deceitful, and not culturally distasteful. Guardians of cultural sensibilities, these organizations ensure that advertising satisfies standards of taste and propriety.
Current advertising primarily focuses, directly or subliminally, on sex, power, self-glorification, and greed. While we get appropriately angry about Janet Jackson's nudity on prime-time TV, we don't make much of sensuous women in suggestive attire hawking pizza, autos, and widgets. Similarly, why aren't we more upset about all the new car and truck advertising?