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The Ethics of Tobacco Advertising

Autor:   •  March 16, 2015  •  Research Paper  •  2,537 Words (11 Pages)  •  719 Views

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Djuhari, Sharlene

UGBA 107

Section Friday 1-2pm

Seth Engel

Tobacco Corporations’ Advertising Ethics in America:

Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and CSR

 Tobacco related diseases are responsible for causing for the deaths of five million people every year. Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs in the world and consumption is highly correlated with the onset of lung cancer and various other diseases. [1]Although the advertisement of Tobacco is one of the most controlled forms of promotions today, unregulated Tobacco marketing before the 1970s prevailed in the United States. Tobacco advertising in the 1950s and 1960s was designed to prey on unknowing consumers who were encouraged by the subliminal messages in corporate advertising that linked smoking cigarettes to sophistication and social acceptance. Large Tobacco companies utilized media outlets such as TV series and newspapers to encourage tobacco consumption and to dispute early claims that smoking lead to detrimental diseases. The principles behind Tobacco advertising that promoted the American lifestyle are in no way ethical due to the hazardous health effects of smoking and the misleading ads that suggested otherwise.  Analyzed under beliefs of utilitarianism and deontology, corporate advertisements of Tobacco before the 1970s served as unethical examples of advertising that focused solely on making money at the expense of their consumers’ health conditions. [2] Tobacco companies also failed to engage in CSR activities that upheld their legitimacy among consumers, oftentimes choosing tactics that failed to solve or compensate for the problems produced by smoking tobacco. [3]

In early ad campaigns, tobacco corporations engaged in the sponsorship of popular television shows in order to get their products displayed on air.  In I’ve Got a Secret, a game show that debuted in 1952, onscreen members were featured smoking cigarettes on air until the final episode. [4] Right from the start, their corporate sponsor, Winston, attempted to relay the idea that masculinity was linked to smoking cigarettes. Members of the game show were always wearing sharp suits on air while smoking.[5] On one of the episodes, a guest who did not smoke cigarettes was instead given a tobacco pipe. [6] Winston’s strategy of product placement and the requirement for members of the game show to smoke on air was an important marketing strategy in portraying smoking as a social activity condoned by celebrities. Winston furthered their campaigns by introducing the slogan, “Winston tastes good as a cigarette should,” which quickly gained popularity. [7] The company always used advertisements that displayed admirable people like athletes or celebrities to capture the attention of the common public, to infuse them with the notion that commendable individuals smoke cigarettes.


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