An advertiser is required to produce advertisements to market and promote the product(s) of the firm he is employed by. The medium of advertisement can be print, electronic, or the most current medium, social media. However, it is not easy to advertise any product or service and there is a heavy responsibility of following number of guidelines and requirements that apply to the entire advertising industry.
It is the responsibility of every advertiser to ensure that the advertisement(s) that he produces are in line with marketing ethics and that the sentiments of the viewers are kept in mind during the brainstorming and production phases of the promotional video, print advertisement or social media campaign. Social sensitivities have to be given due consideration so as to avoid any backlash from the masses upon the launch of the campaign.
There are a number of social issues which tend to rouse strong feelings if portrayed in a wrong way. These include issues regarding social, cultural or racial discrimination, gender bias, as well as issues pertaining to mental and physical health. The scope of social sensitivities also covers explicit content and censorship issues. The responsibility of a marketer is to avoid attracting any negative feedback from the viewers of advertisements by respecting unsaid boundaries of all aforementioned social sensitivities.
Social, cultural or racial discrimination refers to highlighting differences between social classes, or different cultures and races, that too in an inappropriate manner. It is the responsibility of an advertiser to ensure that the work that he produces along with his team should promote equality and should not encourage differences which do exist in the society but are unhealthy. Making one social class, culture or race seem more preferred or important in comparison to others can hurt the sentiments of people and also worsens social situations as it may cause a lot of debate and could possibly result in widespread protests by the masses. Such a situation will naturally harm the reputation of the firm that came up with such an advertisement.
It is important for advertisers to be aware of their responsibility to minimize gender biases. If they are not able to contribute towards reducing the perceived precedence that boys/men have over girls/women in patriarchal societies than they should at least not indulge in making such notions appear as if they are acceptable norms that need not be changed, but further encouraged.
When it comes to issues regarding mental and physical health it is the responsibility of an advertiser to spread awareness of such problems, and to avoid portraying individuals with health concerns as being socially inept. They can highlight the challenges that disabled people face in a positive light and show scenarios which give confidence to such people, but advertisers are required to respect the sentiments of mentally or physically challenged people by refraining from displaying contempt or insensitivity towards their plight.
The most important responsibility of an advertiser is to ensure that the advertisements produced by him and his team are not immoral or indecent in any way. The clothing that the models wear as well as their behavior and choice of words should all respect the local norms with regards to decency. Any explicit content should be censored in an unobtrusive way so as the meaning of the advertisement is not vague.
If an advertiser is conscious of each of the above mentioned aspects, then he would be fulfilling his responsibility of being an ethical advertiser. Shouldering complete responsibility of respecting social sensitivities will ensure that the advertiser produces quality campaigns. This will in turn create a positive image of the advertising agency as well as their clients, which is the primary aim of an advertiser.