Advertising: a scapegoat for societal issues?

2:04 PM, 8 December 2016

 Is advertising to blame for all of society’s problems?

An easy target -- placing the blame on advertising

It's hard to think of a more high-profile business than advertising. Which in turn means our industry stands front and center for the world to scrutinise.

According to its harshest critics, advertising:

  • corrupts childhood,
  • fuels obesity,
  • targets the vulnerable,
  • misuses data,
  • and encourages alcohol abuse

Advertising is blamed for many vices and other societal instabilities ....

But is this a fair perspective on our industry?

The domino effect of ad restriction

A vocal minority plays the "blame" card, placing governments and regulators under increasing pressure to impose restrictions that are both unjustified and disproportionate. While their motives may be sincere, the means they propose are way off target.

Most of the anti-advertising lobbyists know little about how advertising works, and how it influences, or more often doesn't influence the outcomes that concern them. Nor do they understand the likely unintended consequences of their policies to restrict advertising freedoms. For instance, when lobbyists fight for advertising bans it often leads to price discounting, which encourages purchase.

They are often oblivious to the positive role advertising can play. All over the world, public service advertising has proven to be a useful policy, changing public attitudes on topics as diverse as: road safety, domestic violence, health issues, recycling or promoting water-safety.

Additionally, companies are increasingly using advertising to help address societal challenges. They are conscious that beyond simply selling brands and ideas, advertising can be used to show how products and services can make a difference in communities.

Protecting advertising freedom

ANZA works hard to sustain a robust self-regulatory framework, that protects the community, while maintaining advertising freedoms.

In the face of challenging and unwarranted restrictions, ANZA will maintain a spotlight on the fallacies of anti-advertising advocates. We believe the freedom to advertise, within a clear and responsible framework, is beneficial for the public, businesses and the economy.

Have you encountered negative attention during your advertising campaigns? Was the blame disproportionate to the message? If you need support please get in touch; ANZA is here to help. All feedback, queries, and opinions are welcomed to

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