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HU Ethical & Problematic Issues With Advertisements Essay


Your assignment is to find a problematic ethical issue in advertising and analyze what you would consider to be the appropriate boundaries for advertising considering this issue. We have discussed and will continue to discuss broad ethical issues involved in advertising (advertising to children, data privacy, political advertising, etc.), and you should select some specific aspect or element of these issues for your paper and presentation. You can focus on a specific product or type of product (advertising marijuana in Michigan, advertising menstrual products, advertising low-calorie alcohol to women, etc.) or a specific context of advertising (influencer advertising on Instagram, political ads on Facebook, product placement on Netflix, advertising in children’s gaming apps, etc.). There is a broad range of issues to choose from, and you may also choose an issue that we haven’t discussed in class. All students should clear your topic with your GSI before you get started.

Paper (50 points total)

Your paper should have three broad sections: (1) justification of the issue selection, (2) analysis of the ethical considerations, and (3) an analysis of how advertising can address the issue in the future. So, your paper should include the following:

Issue Selection (15 points): First you should describe the issue you have chosen to discuss and why it might present unique problems or ethical considerations. In other words, why is this important?  Why is it possibly problematic to advertise this specific product or in this specific context? What kind of harms could potentially arise from persuading people to buy a product in this context? You should draw on scholarly research, news media, or other appropriate sources to help you explain in detail why this issue has important ethical considerations.

Ethical Analysis (20 points): Find two examples of this issue and analyze how how it is or is not an example of appropriate persuasion in advertising. For each example, briefly describe the ad and its basic message features (feel free to include images) and consider the concepts we have discussed related to ethics in advertising (deception, advocacy, omission, acquisitiveness, targeting, taste, values, etc.) and analyze whether this ad represents an appropriate use of persuasion. What elements might make it more or less appropriate? Would a “reasonable consumer” be unduly influenced or deceived by any elements of the ad? Consider who the ad might be targeting and whether there are any issues involved with the target market that might make them particularly susceptible to influence or deception. Why or why not? Be sure to discuss specific message features as you craft your argument.

Here, the kind of examples are up to you. You may select two examples of what you consider to be “inappropriate” or unethical persuasion, or you may select one example of inappropriate or unethical persuasion and one that is a positive or ethical example. You may also choose to look at two positive examples. If you have questions about selecting examples, please ask! Your examples may be videos, images, or other forms of advertising. Your examples may also be a personal experience or event that you witnessed. Please provide links to videos or images where appropriate. But also note that the person grading your exam should not have to necessarily watch a video or click a link to understand your paper. Your brief description of the contents of the video or link should provide enough information

Practical solutions (10 points): In this section, you should examine whether or not you think the problems you identified have a solution. Think about how, given what you know about the audience and the ethical issues involved, you might improve these particular ads or category of ads. Is there anything you could change to make ads like this more appropriate or ethical? For some issues, there may be an easy solution, like simply being more transparent about the product.  For others, there may need to be a more complex regulatory, industry, or technological response. Be creative here and think about the implications and consequences of your proposed solutions.

Overall clarity (5 points): Your paper should be approximately 5-7 pages double-spaced (1,300-2,300 words), in size-12, Times New Roman font, with 1-inch margins. You may include images or other media, but please stick to the general word count.


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