Advertising in the United States should be more positive and more truthful. Companies have an ethical obligation to follow these two recommendations. After all, the alternative can lead to deleterious effects. In particular, “the young are circumspect to the guile of ad tactics” (Trehan 1). Thus, when companies engage in deceitful advertising it can spread misinformation, especially among the youth. There are many ways in which “companies advertise deceptively” (Levy 303). But no matter how companies do so, spreading misinformation is likely to yield negative effects. To provide a common example, it is worth considering the role of political advertising.
One of the main purposes of political advertising is “to inform voters” (Just and Crigler 279). Of course, misinformation in this context can thus be especially damning to American democracy, leading to votes being cast for the wrong reasons. This can lead to the wrong leaders in power, having undue control over the lives of others—and all for the wrong reasons. Similarly, positivity in advertising is important. To stick with the example of political advertising, casting votes based on negative attitudes towards one candidate does not inherently speak to the positive traits (i.e. qualifications) of the other.
Again, misinformation can arise, leading to harmful consequences. As stated, the youth are especially susceptible to misleading advertising, and thus there is an ethical imperative to ensure that future generations are well-informed. Advertising can still be effective if it is not negative or misleading. Companies in the United States need to take a leading role in ensuring that they advertise responsibly, in a more truthful and positive manner.
Just, Marion R., and Ann Crigler. "Political Advertising in the United States." Routledge Handbook of Political Advertising (2017): 279.
Levy, Robert M. "Truth in Advertising in Neuromodulation in the Era of “alternative Facts”." Neuromodulation: Technology at the Neural Interface 20.4 (2017): 303-306.
Trehan, Kulveen. "Advertising literacy to empower the young media consumers in India: a critical exploration of the advertised mind." Media Asia (2018): 1-12.