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Puffery in Advertising

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Puffery in Advertising Advertising is a dynamic public forum in which business interests, creativity, consumer needs, and government regulations meet. Advertising's visible social role makes it a target for criticism. As a result, today's consumers believe that a great deal of advertising is unethical because it adds to the price of products, is untruthful, tricks people, or targets vulnerable people (Wells, Burnett, & Moriarty, 2000, p30). In the real society, the advertisement is the most powerful tool to aid companies promote their products to customers, even the largest companies in the world such as Coca Cola, Nike, KFC, and Nokia. It is the most effective way to keep attracting customers, and it is also the best way to attracting new customers. However, Richards (2000) point out that advertising is constantly bombarded by criticism (Richards, 2000, Texas advertising research, http://advertising.utexas.edu/research/law/index.asp [Accessed on 2 October, 2005]). Customers have all seen and heard that the product is the "best," the "most" this or the "most" that and similar phrases. A current ethical and legal issue in advertising is the use of puffery (Available at http://virtual.parkland.edu/kwalker121/Secure/disc2.htm [Accessed on 4 October, 2005]). O'Guinn, Allen, & Semenik (2000, p109) states that the use of absolute superlatives such "Number One" or "Best in the World" is sometimes called puffery and is considered completely legal. Puffery is defined as advertising or other sales representations, which praise the item to be sold with subjective opinions, superlatives, or exaggerations, vaguely and generally, stating no specific facts (Wells, Burnett, & Moriarty, 2000, p34). Arens (1999, p50) states that puffery refers to exaggerated, subjective claims that can't be proven ture or false, such as "the best," "premier," or "the only way to fly." According to Aaker, Batra and Myers (1992, p536), puffery takes two general forms. The first is a subjective statement of opinion about a product's quality, using such terms as "best or greatest." The second form of puffery is an exaggeration extended to the point of outright spoof that is obviously not true. ...read more.


http://www.stayfreemagazine.org/archives/14/ivanpreston.html [Accessed on 10 October, 2005]). Therefore, based on the above analysis, puffery is unethical. According to Appendix 4, the advertisers intend the effect of the advertisement to make a social scare during the SARS period. Therefore, it is does not support principle 1 and principle 2. In addition, the advertisement not only wants to warn people the dangers of SARS, these advertisers also want to persuade the customers to purchase their products. Furthermore, it attempts to create an irrational and possibly injurious desire to maximize companies' profit. Therefore, it is does not support principle 3 and principle 4. Finally, those products cannot defend and avoid SARS efficiently, thus, they have a tendency to mislead customers. According to Heinz Niedermaier, chief executive of Biosafety USA confirmed that the company had not tested the product in relation to SARS and acknowledged that its claim might be exaggerated (Charatan, F., 2003, Explosion of internet advertisements for protection against SARS, http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/326/7395/900/c [Accessed on 6 October, 2005]).As a result, puffery does not support all the 6 principles, thus, puffery is unethical. Similar with Appendix 4, Appendix 5 also creates a social scare in the USA. Lifeline Security looks like it is concerned about social security. However, it provides the image that if customers use the products they will safe their life in the disasters. After September 11th terrorist attack the USA, all Americans are living in the scare, the main purpose of the advertisement is to create the irrational purchase and intent to mislead customers. As a result, puffery does not support all the 6 principles. Therefore, based on the above analysis, puffery is unethical. Velasquez (2002, p76) states the traditional-utilitarianism theory states that an action is right from an ethical point of view if and only if the sum total of utilities produced by that act is greater than the sum total of utilities produced by any other act the agent could have performed in its place. ...read more.


That is why Lifeline Security offer the Exitair breathing hood respirator which is the only low cost breathing mask on the market to help you escape such catastrophes. Since 9-11, Lifeline Security has had many inquires about its other products to address the threat of terrorism and a terrorist attack. Lifeline Security's product lines include Rad-Block which is a Potassium Iodide tablet to protect those exposed to a nuclear radiation attack, dirty bomb attack or a nuclear radiation mishap. (Data Source: http://www.lifelinesecurity.com [Accessed on 6 October, 2005]) Reference List Textbook: 1. Wells, W., Burnett, J. & Moriarty, S. 2000, Advertising: Principles and Practice. 5th Edition, Prentice-Hall, Inc. 2. O'Guinn, T. C., Allen, C. T. & Semenik R. J. 2000, Advertising. 2nd Edition, South-Western College Publishing. 3. Velasquez M.G. 1998, Business Ethics: Concepts and Cases. 4th Edition, Prentice Hall. 4. Arens, W. F., 1999, Contemporary Advertising, 7th Edition, McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 5. Aaker, D. A., Batra, R. & Myers,J. G. 1992, Advertising Management, 4th Edition, Prentice-Hall, Inc. 6. Velasquez M.G. 2002, Business Ethics: Concepts and Cases. 5th Edition, Prentice Hall. 7. De George, R. T., 2005, Business Ethics. 6th Edition, Prentice-Hall, Inc. List of Website: 1. Feldman, J. P., Puffery in Advertising, [Accessed on 2 October, 2005] 2. Andre,H. A., 2003,Report of death greatly exaggerated, http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BEK/is_4_11/ai_100572294%20[08%20Mar%202005 [Accessed on 2 October, 2005] 3. Preston, I., How to make a claim about truth in advertising when ads aren't saying anything? http://www.stayfreemagazine.org/archives/14/ivanpreston.html [Accessed on 10 October, 2005] 4. Hooker, J., 2003, Why Business Ethics, [Accessed on 10 October, 2005] 5. Boudreaux, D. J., 1995, "Puffery" in Advertising, http://www.mises.org/freemarket_detail.asp?control=228&sortorder=articledate [Accessed on 2 October, 2005] 6. Haan, P., 2004, What Would Jesus Say about Puffery? [Accessed on 10 October, 2005] 7. Stanford, R. A., Ethics in Business, http://facweb.furman.edu/~dstanford/relecon/ethics.htm [Accessed on 15 October, 2005] 8. Fieser, J., 2005, Ethics, http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/ethics.htm#SSH2c.i [Accessed on 15 October, 2005] 9. Richards, J. I., 2000, Texas advertising research, http://advertising.utexas.edu/research/law/index.asp [[Accessed on 2 October, 2005] 10. http://virtual.parkland.edu/kwalker121/Secure/disc2.htm [Accessed on 4 October, 2005] 11. Alinde, A. H., 2003, Report of death greatly exaggerated, http://www.findarticles. ...read more.

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