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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Advertising to Children


Advertising is an important source of marketing product to the society and the consumers. This is not only psychologically motivating the people of the society to buy the particular commodity but helps the business organizations to economically sound by conquering the market position. Advertising also uses as a medium of communication, helps to communicate with the consumer by creating cultural and social values. Sometimes it creates negative effect in the society as some of the ads are not suitable for all the cultures and ethnicities. Some of these ads create negative values in the society, although it makes the company economically stronger through increase the selling of the particular product (Schauster, 2018). The business organizations should have followed the ethical code of conducts before making or planning to advertise their products in the society.

The article called ‘Ethical Considerations on Advertising to Children' considered the children as the ‘vulnerable audience'. But the modern advertising and marketing firms target this vulnerable audience for marketing the upcoming or existing goods (GRAD, 2015). It is true that the recent evaluation shaper parenting empowers the children to play a vital role in the family's decision making (GRAD, 2015). That's why the advertising industry is now targeting the children to psychologically motivate them. And make their voices powerful to influence their parents to purchase the particular product/ service even if the quality is not up to the mark (GRAD, 2015). This type of advertising strategy is considered as an unethical advertising strategy.  

In this essay, the researcher provides some arguments based on the recent articles and current examples of advertising. The position of the research has also clarified based on the analysis.  

Ethics and Ethical Codes

Advertising Standards Board is the administrator of Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA). With the supervision of Advertising Standards Board, AANA has developed advertising codes of ethics. In section 2.2, it clearly determines that advertising or marketing communication can't be used as a medium of sexual appeal, also any types of images of minor that portrayes as exploitive or degrading the minor group shall not be used at the time of making the ads (AANA, 2018).  

This code of ethics clearly demonstrates that the advertising is not the tool of sexual appeal or not the tool of degrading any particular group, specially the children. Because any kind of exploitive advertising can be impacted negatively in minor's mind.

In section 2.3, it clearly elucidates that advertising or marketing communication can't portray any kind of violence unless its justifiable based on the product category (AANA, 2018).  And in 2.5, it clearly demonstrates strong or obscene language should be avoided in any sort of advertising (AANA, 2018).

Actually, the both sections provide clear guideline to make the ads ethical by avoiding the violence and strong words in the advertisement. At present, most of the ads are broadcasted through different mass medias such as TV, Radio, Online, Newspaper, etc. Thus, the children are also considered as the viewers of these ads. Any kind of negative or unethical ads can create negative impact on their minds (Alozie, 2014).

In 2.7 section, the code of ethics mentions that advertising or marketing communication should be differentiated based on the relevant audience (AANA, 2018). This means all the ads are not suitable for all the audiences. The business organization should keep in mind that children belongs to the vulnerable audience category and targeting them for all kinds of ads is considered as illegal offence based on the above code of conducts.

 Dr. S.Vidhya  considered  violence and sexual harassment in advertisement as an issue in her ‘Advertising Ethics' article. In this article, she clearly mentioned this kind of issue should be avoided in children advertisement or the ads that is more likely to be watched by the children (Vidhya, 2012).  The article also found 73.5% companies are following deceptive marketing practice. To misleading the consumer, 74.5% are masking their ads with humor and sarcasm type themes (Vidhya, 2012).

All of these analyses identify most of the companies don't want to follow the code of ethics while making the advertisement. Even they don't want to categorize the ads based on the age, gender, religion and ethnicity.

Creative Strategy

The advertising industry is also considered as a creative industry full of creative people and ideas. In the modern advertising, creative strategy plays a major role to get more views and attract the customer to buy the specific product.  ‘Advertising and Culture' article provides a brief discussion on how the creative ads looks like (Alozie, 2014. Creative advertisement mostly consists creative thinking, originality, problem solving and novelty (Alozie, 2014). But it should be meaningful and don't misleading the customer (Alozie, 2014). Actually, meaningful creative ads can't mislead the customer with the help of unethical humor in the advertisement. But a recent research shows 77% of the ads creative ads are based humor theme. At the same time, 84% of creative ads are developing based on the original ideas (Zeng, Huang and Dou, 2014). The implementation of original ideas in the ads development can shape the theme of the ads ethically.  

The article called ‘Creative Strategy: A Management Perspective' demonstrates that the business organization needs to give little attention at the time of approving or taking any creative strategy to get more attention from the customer (Frazer, 2013). Giving little attention while selecting a particular creative strategy can make the ads more viable and rigorous. Because any type of misleading theme is prevented with this small initiative. Eventually, this technique can be helpful to make meaningful ads by avoiding any ethical issue, so that not only the adult but the minor can also enjoy the ads (Frazer, 2013).   

Sociocultural Considerations

Ads firms don't want to consider the social norms and values at the time of making the ads. This a negative practice as the people of the society and the community are considered as one of the major stakeholders for any kind business organization. In fact, the culture of the different society is not similar at all. Some socio-cultural environments don't accept all kind of ads especially the ads which contain strong language, obsessive scene etc.  The children of this society are bound to obey the order of their parents (Schauster, 2018). And their parents usually determine what type of things are right and wrong for them. They don't want their child to watch any obsessive ad or the ad which contain strong language, nudity and violence themes.

The article called ‘Social factors in user perceptions and responses to advertising in online social networking communities' suggest that the positive online and social media ads can be impacted positively in the society as all types of people are the audiences of these ads (Zeng, Huang and Dou, 2014). The article also elucidates the advertising industry should pay more attention in the socio-cultural environment of the particular society before broadcasting the ads. This strategy mitigates the negative psychological impact of the unethical ads on the children of particular society (Zeng, Huang and Dou, 2014).

A recent research on advertising shows most of the ads get more exposure when its broadcasted-on TV than other medias. Still the television is a popular source of entertainment than online, radio etc. media sources. All the ages people of the different societies are loving to watch ads on their TV (Schauster, 2018). The children are more vulnerable than other groups as the ads which contain strong language and violence theme can control their mind negatively and force them to play negative role in the society. Thus, the advertising industry should analyze the socio-cultural aspects of the particular society before making/ broadcasting the ads on TV.   

Externalities Related to Advertising

In this segment, the research discussed the Externalities related to advertising in the context of one of the four economic assumptions called ‘Costs and benefits.  According to some researches advertising is considered as a negative externality because most of the big or small organizations are spent most of their money is advertising rather than manufacturing a quality product (Ghosh and Mahdian, 2013). In fact, the cost of ads can make them more money by attracting the customer towered their product.

For this reason, the business organizations have large budget for advertising and marketing than manufacturing and supplying (Dowling and Krupnikov, 2016). These type of business organizations don't want to analyze wither their ads are ethical or not. Even they try to follow aggressive marketing strategy to attract more people to purchase their products. Some of those companies target the minor group as they have the ability to influence their parents in purchase decision making (Valei, 2017).

It is true that without strong advertising strategy a company can fail to sustain its market share even though it produces quality product. Because the people of the society never learn of this product without watching the ads on TV or online, newspaper etc. media. Some ads mislead the people of society by broadcasting misinformation and some those contain wrong/ negative message as well (Valei, 2017). These types of ads have not any ethical value as these don't follow the ethical code of conduct of advertising.   

An article called ‘Externalities in Online Advertising' provides vast information on the positive and negative externalities related to advertising. It demonstrates that the ads of dating service is creating negative externality in our society as some minors are also attracted with these ads (Ghosh and Mahdian, 2013). These kinds of ads added negative values in our society.  The article suggests this type of online dating ads provide un-restricted search feature for all types of user which is against the ethical value of advertising (Ghosh and Mahdian, 2013).  

Three 2018 Advertisements

In 2018, the audiences have seen lots of creative advertisement than ever before. Some of those are impacted positively and some impacted negatively by creating controversy in the society. With rapid development of social media and social networking, most of the ads are now watchable on the Facebook, YouTube and similar sorts of social networks. In summer 2018, a startup company called ‘Suitsupply' launched its "Find your perfect fit," ad campaign with a controversial advertisement. The ad of "Find your perfect fit" was so controversial that escalates the loss of 12,000 Instagram subscribers within a day (Green, 2018). The unsubscribed followers said this type of ad impacted negatively on their minds. They also suggested this kind of ads shouldn't be posted on the social media as most of the minors at present exists on this platform. Any type of unethical ad is harmful for this group of people (Green, 2018).

The year 2018 is full of negative and controversial political ads as well. In the US mid-term election, some candidates tried to promote their election campaign through negative political ads. One of those are Republican candidate Michael Williams “Deportation bus” ad (VN, 2018). Through this ad he promoted his negative sense of humor by showing his hatred against the illegal migrants and refugees (VN, 2018). His message on the ad was full of hate and hostility that might divert his followers against that vulnerable group of people.

An article called ‘The Effects of Negative Advertising' analyzed that negative political ads are so influential that can rapidly spread hatred against the minorities of the society (Dowling and Krupnikov, 2016). The article also suggests negative ads can play a vital role in the behavioral change of the children as its hard from them to distinguish the right and wrong (Dowling and Krupnikov, 2016).

This year H&M Ad sparks ethical debate by featuring a black boy modeling a sweatshirt consists racist message on the middle part of the shirt (Behuniak, 2018). Most of the customers of the H&M were shocked after seeing this racist ad on social media and e-commerce site (Behuniak, 2018). This had been created ethical issue as the company featured a child with racist message on the sweatshirt. It helps to evaluate that not only start-up or small business organizations but the large and world-famous business organizations aren't maintained ethical code of conduct of advertising while making the ads for their products. They don't try to realize the negative impact of the ads in the society before posting/ broadcasting the ads on mass media.  

Within all of these, many of the positive ads conquered the heart of million of people as these contain the right information and don't misleading the anyone especially the minors. In fact, some advertising agencies are trying to develop positive and ethical ads with the creativeness and originality.

Ethical Consideration in Advertising

Advertising of the product should be done in ethical way so that it won't be harmful for any type of group of people. The ethical ads can be developed by following the advertising ethical code of conduct (Alozie, 2014). With the help of creative advertising strategy any type of ad can sustain its originality but the producer of the ad needs to analyze the ethical issue before broadcasting (Dowling and Krupnikov, 2016). Business organizations should stop targeting the children as their audience, this will solve the ethical issues rigorously. Television ads should not contain any unethical message that is harmful for the children. And the television operators should identify the ethical values of the ads before broadcasting it for all the audiences.


Negative advertising not only reduce the customer but also defame a company. For this reason, the companies need to pay little attention in the overall ad development process to avoid any ethical issue. The business organizations should keep in mind that advertising to children has to be done in ethical way. The ads which are broadcasted for all the ages people need to be followed the socio-cultural norms and values of the particular society. Because the growth of any business is always depended on the positive and ethical advertising strategies.  



AANA (2018). CODE OF ETHICS. Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), 1(1), pp.1-4.

Alozie, E. (2014). Advertising and Culture. Journal of Creative Communications, 5(1), pp.1-22.

Behuniak, T. (2018). H&M Ad Sparks Ethical Debate in the Industry. [online] Fstoppers. Available at: [Accessed 7 Dec. 2018].

Dowling, C. and Krupnikov, Y. (2016). The Effects of Negative Advertising. Political Communication, 1(1), pp.1-3.

Frazer, C. (2013). Creative Strategy: A Management Perspective. Journal of Advertising, 12(4), pp.30-41.

Ghosh, A. and Mahdian, M. (2013). Externalities in Online Advertising. Internet Monetization - Online Advertising, 2(2), pp.1-8.

GRAD, I. (2015). Ethical Considerations on Advertising to Children. Postmodern Openings, 6(2), pp.43-57.

Green, D. (2018). A suit startup's new ads features two men kissing — and some people are furious. [online] Business Insider. Available at: [Accessed 7 Dec. 2018].

Schauster, E. (2018). Ethics Versus Survival: The Relationship Between Advertising Ethics and New Business Challenges. Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, 12(1), pp.1-15.

Valei, A. (2017). Informative Advertising in a Monopoly with Network Externalities. SSRN Electronic Journal, 1(1).

Vidhya, D. (2012). Advertising Ethics. IOSR Journal of Business and Management (IOSR - JBM), 1(1), pp.20-22.

VN (2018). The Craziest Campaign Ads of the 2018 Midterms. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 7 Dec. 2018].

Zeng, F., Huang, L. and Dou, W. (2014). Social Factors in User Perceptions and Responses to Advertising in Online Social Networking Communities. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 10(1), pp.1-13.


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