Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Demons of Advertising

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Human nature has been easy to figure out throughout the years. This fact could turn out to have more cons attached to it than ever imagined. In the beginning advertising had its place. Advertising pushed patent medicines, filled a few pages of the Sears catalog, sponsored radio detective programs, acted as magazine filler, and eventually made it to television. The thirty second TV spot became the model. Now some advertisements have crossed the ethics line. The line between advertisement and entertainment are becoming nonexistent. Guerilla, stealth marketing, and product placement are the two main unethical agents in advertising.

Stealth by far is the most sneaky and unethical technic in advertising. Stealth marketing is sending actors to interact with real people and casually talk up a product. These actors do not wear a name tag or a logo shirt, they appear as normal people. A great example that would best explain stealth marketing would be the Sony-Ericsson company. They invented a new cellular phone with a built in camera. They hired a group of actors to walk around Times Square in New York City posing as tourist acting as newlywed couples on a honeymoon. They would go up to strangers and ask them to take their picture. After a few minutes the unsuspecting person would ask how to take the picture. Then they receive a live demonstration on the new Sony phone. Of course the actors would explain where the got the phones and how great they are. Consequintly the sale of the phone tripled within one month of this advertising technique. The strangers leave thinking “what a nice couple and that was a cool phone.” Gary Ruskin, the executive director of Consumer Alert, said “its deceptive, its absolutely unethical to deceive people like this. In addition, its taking advantage of the kindness of strangers and thats pretty low.” One man that was told that the two people were actors said “I feel violated, I mean, I had a connection between the two people and then to find out that they are salesmen!”

Another great example of stealth marketing would be the company of Tuwaka. The company came out with a new version of a spiced rum. However the problem was that they were going up against a fierce market, so they turned to stealth marketing. In this scenario a semi-attractive male actor orders a Tuwaka drink in front of other male customers to another attractive female actor. Of course she comes over and they hit it off. He gets her phone number and then she leaves. Just about 0% of the time the other male customers ask “how did you that?“ His response usually includes how women love that drink and thats how he gets dates. How far are these companies going to take this marketing technique? In this instance stealth marketing is using basic human desire. Is that ethical?

The second unethical marketing system is guerilla marketing. Guerrilla is defined by Word Book Online Encyclopedia as “Guerilla warfare, pronounced guh RIHL uh, is warfare by roving bands of fighters who torment the enemy with ambushes, sudden raids, and other small scale attacks. Guerialls may be organized, but usually fight in small bands. They most often operate behind enemy lines and use hit and run tactics and sabotage to surprise and torment the enemy. They take advantage of natural features of the terrain-such as forests, hills, lakes, and rivers-to conceal and launch attacks.” Companies started to realize that conventional marketing was being spotted a mile away. Consumers were becoming numb to conventional advertising. The marketing director decided to put the advertisements behind enemy lines in a sense. They had to disguise their ads so no one would know that in fact they were being sold a product.


A good example of guerrilla marketing would be Jojos Subs. Jojo of course had a better product and a better value than its competitor Subway. However Jojo did not have the marketing budget of Subway. One technique he used was putting flyers displaying a much better deal than they just purchased up on cars in front of subway. The customer would feel violated in a sense that they just spent more of their hard earned money than they had to. Another technique he used was sending people to subways and making complaints in front of potential customers. In the complaint the person would say he is going to Jojo for a better sub as well as a better deal. In a sense Jojo put someone behind enemy lines.

That example was on a small scale. A large corporation such as Nike has almost an unlimited budget when it comes to marketing. They have hired behavioral scientist to really get behind enemy lines. Many studies were conducted of many different groups. Now the marketing department were armed with a powerful tool. They knew exactly what group wanted what. Of course the obvious occurred, celebrity endorsements. What kid would not want to slam a basketball like Michael Jordan or hit a baseball like Ken Griffey Jr. On the Nike commercials they have just shots of Jordan and Griffey just performing their sports, but they are wearing Nike shoes. Playing on these emotions of children enabled Nike to sell a shoe for over $100 which only cost on average $ to make. Playing with such a influential minds is not ethical.

Alltel as used a different form of guerrilla marketing in the sense of setting up mall blitzes. They would set up a booth for free massages or manicures on the walls would be the logo boomerang, but there would not be an actual advertisement. Boomerang was their new pre-paid service geared toward college students. Alltel also hired people to go into public chat rooms on the Internet and ask about the new Alltel product Boomerang. Basicly just using these techniques to infect everyones curiosity. All these techniques end up on a 85% spike on the number of hits the Boomerange web site. Once again the large corporation used human nature of curiosity to sell the product.

In conclusion, the consumer should very careful when they receive an urge to purchase a new product. A consumer may never know if the had been a victim of guerrilla or stealth marketing. But as long as there are consumers companies will always try to find a new way to sell their products verse their competitors. Many large corporations say that there are no lines being crossed. They obviously havent been a victim of either one of these techniques.


WORKS CITED

Elias, Marilyn. Selling to Kids Blurs Ethical Picture. USA Today.

Fairclough, Gordon. Are Cigarette Ads in Magazines Angling for Teens? Wall Street Journal.

Gaines, Judith. Mind Games Psychologists Debate Ethics of Helping Sell to Children. Boston Globe.

Hohler, Bob. Philip Morris Agrees to Halt Magazine Ads. Boston Globe.

Alter, Jonathan. The Medias Meaty Meal. Newsweek.

Baker, Russ. The Squeeze. Columbia Journalism Review.

Kurtz, Howard. The Shock Market It Puts Bad News on the Map. Washington Post.

Maitre, Joachim, H. The Tilt of the News Liberal Bias in the Media. Current.

McClellan, Steve. Shaw Wants Media to Defend Themselves. Broadcasting & Cable.

Miller, Mark. Free the Media. The Nation.

Nussbaum, Bruce. The Myth of the Liberal Media. Business Week.


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