Journal of Advertising Research
Volume 51, No. 3 - September, 2011

Advertising Ethics

Journal of Advertising Research

A Crisis of Marketing Conscience

Geoffrey Precourt

In his editorial Geoffrey Precourt highlights the reason behind our Advertising Ethics issue: "The marketing rules of engagement have changed. Consumers—not marketers—control the message. And, in such a volatile marketplace, the context has changed from 'what if' to 'when' when compromises in advertising ethics come under consideration."

The Rock in the Pond: How Online Buzz and Offline WOM Can Make a Strong Message Even Metrics More Powerful

Mind Over Metrics by Pat LaPointe

Pat LaPointe looks at the relationship between social media, traditional media and offline word of mouth. The impact of social media can be over-estimated: "The simple fact is that if there was no stimulus from the traditional media (or if the impact was beneath some observable threshold), there might be no material reverberation in the social-media space," while offline word of mouth can be a surprisingly strong indicator of increased sales.

Book Review: Marketing Survival Guide: The "Know It or Blow It" Handbook

Review by Heather James

Excellence at the Intersection of Marketing Art and Science: The Best-in-show Winners of the 2011 David Ogilvy Award Winners

Featuring the three case studies from the campaigns that won the three top ARF David Ogilvy Awards:

  • Grand Ogilvy Award Winner: "Pizza Turnaround" Domino's Pizza
  • Research Achievement Winner: "2010 United States Census" The United States Census Bureau
  • Research Innovation Winner: "Break The Cycle" U By Kotex

Guest Edited by Professor Richard F. Beltramini

From Platitudes to Principles: An Advertising Ethics Call to Action

Richard F. Beltramini

In his guest editorial, Richard Beltramini presents a call to action for everyone involved in the advertising industry to pay some much-needed attention to advertising ethics: "It is about time academics and practitioners in the business of advertising sincerely begin working together to advance this decades-long undercurrent of nascent interest in advertising ethics. We can no longer be satisfied with role-playing vignettes or corporate hallways decorated with laminated codes displaying public-relations pabulum… I hope this initiative will encourage others to work toward a national summit on advertising ethics, the identification of advertising ethics fellows interacting globally on significant research topics, a national directory of industry speakers on advertising ethics, and perhaps, in time, even a Journal of Advertising Ethics."

Commentary Making the Case for Enhanced Advertising Ethics: How a New Way of Thinking About Advertising Ethics May Build Consumer Trust

Wally Snyder

This article presents the case to advertising professionals for the need to enhance advertising ethics in order to build consumer trust in the company and its brands. It cites research showing that consumers do not trust advertising much of the time. Key ethical concerns are discussed, including children's advertising, the blurring of advertising with news and entertainment, and behavioral advertising. In the end, it is the responsibility of the ad professionals to resolve ethical concerns proactively, and they must be encouraged to do so from the top down, and given clear permission to express their concerns.

Stop Playing with Your Food: A Comparison of For-Profit and Non-Profit Food-Related Advergames

Vincent Cicchirillo and Jhih-Syuan Lin

In response to the rising rate in childhood obesity and the increasing number of child-targeted interactive games employed by food marketers and health advocates, this study examined food-related advergaming content for for-profit and non-profit organizations' Web sites. The authors conducted a content analysis of 80 interactive games (40 for-profit and 40 non-profit). The results showed differences in the interactive-gaming genre types employed by non-profit and for-profit organizations. This research adds considerably to the literature about the ways in which children learn healthy food habits/behaviors. Managerial and practical implications are provided to address the need to advance socially responsible methods for organizations.

The Ethics of Celebrity–Athlete Endorsement: What Happens When a Star Steps Out of Bounds?

Felicia M. Miller and Gene R. Laczniak

Celebrity athletes are a mainstay of popular culture and an increasingly important part of the marketing ecosystem. As product endorsers, they can influence brand attitudes and sales but also have broader societal implications for the firm. The recent string of bad behavior by celebrity athletes raises important ethical questions about firms that use the famous and infamous to endorse branded products. The conceptual framework presented in the current study provides a theoretical approach—based on virtue ethics—for evaluating the retention of tainted celebrity affiliates. The author applies this framework to three well known athletes to examine the ethical implications of what initially were good choices for firms, their brands, and their consumers. The overarching goal of the study is to stimulate managers to think more deeply about the interconnections between their core company values, the athlete endorsers they select, and the ultimate effect of those decisions on their brands in the marketplace if things go wrong.

Online Privacy Trustmarks: Enhancing the Perceived Ethics of Digital Advertising

Andrea J. S. Stanaland, May O. Lwin, and Anthony D. Miyazaki

Consumer views of advertiser ethics are of industry concern due to growing consumer angst regarding data privacy and behavioral advertising. Several privacy trustmarks have been created to address consumer concerns, potentially acting as seals of approval regarding privacy practices. The authors examine whether a privacy trustmark's ability to influence consumer perceptions of advertiser ethics and privacy concerns is moderated by consumer desire for privacy and attitude toward advertising in general. Using an online advertising context, the results show that a privacy trustmark can enhance the perceived ethics of an online advertiser for certain market segments but not for others.

Using Adolescent eHealth Literacy to Weigh Trust in Commercial Web Sites: The More Children Know, the Tougher They Are to Persuade

Thomas Hove, Hye-Jin Paek, and Tom Isaacson

As consumers improve their eHealth literacy skills, their trust in commercial Web sites that provide reliable information ironically might decrease. Informed by the persuasion knowledge model, this study examined how much adolescents trusted and relied on commercial and brand Web sites as a source of health information. Both before and after an eHealth literacy intervention among 182 middle-schoolers, students perceived commercial and brand Web sites to be the least reliable and trustworthy sources of health information. Practical and managerial implications are discussed regarding advertisers' efforts in the age of new media to uphold social responsibility and regain consumer trust.

Advertiser Pressure and the Personal Ethical Norms of Newspaper Editors and Ad Directors

Gergely Nyilasy and Leonard N. Reid

Newspaper journalists and advertising directors were surveyed to update and extend research on advertising pressure. Results reveal that:

  • advertiser pressure is widespread in newspapers; despite economic threats, however, advertisers succeed with their influence attempts relatively infrequently;
  • smaller newspapers do not differ much from larger ones with regard to any forms of advertiser pressure;
  • advertising directors are more permissive in their personal ethical norms for handling advertiser pressure than editors;
  • employees of small newspapers are not much more permissive in their ethical norms than those of large papers; and
  • amount of economic pressure received is positively related to ethical permissiveness but not the other components of advertiser pressure: influence attempts and acquiescence.

Previous Issues:
June 2011: New Models for a New Age of Research
March 2011: 50th Anniversary Special Edition
March 2011: The Future of Marketing Research
December 2010: Season of Plenty
September 2010: The Multi-Cultural Mandate
June 2010: The Power of Television in a Digital Age
March 2010: Is Anybody Listening?
December 2009: Getting Metrics Right
September 2009: The Innovation Issue
June 2009: Special Issue
March 2009: The Mobile Moment
December, 2008: The Challenge of China
September 2008: The Long Tail of Media

The mission of the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) is to act as the research and development vehicle for professionals in all areas of marketing including media, research, advertising and communications. The JAR provides a forum for sharing findings, applications, new technologies and methodologies, and avenues of solution. Its primary audience is the practitioner at all levels of practice.

The ARF began publishing the Journal of Advertising Research in 1960, and since its inception, it has become one of the seminal journals in the industry. The JAR encourages dialogue between practitioners and academics to expand the scientific body of knowledge about all facets of marketing and advertising research and to facilitate translation of that knowledge to support the ARF's mission of “effective business through research and insights.”

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