An Ethical Evaluation of Product Placement

Product placement is how brands are placed into non-advertising media like computer games, books, popular songs and stage plays for e. g. sponsored animations for the promotion of Cadbury's chocolate located in the UK TV soap 'Coronation Street' following the opening titles and after and prior to the commercial breaks; this is affecting the kids and luring these to choose the Cadbury chocolate because small kids cannot differentiate that can be an add. It is a growing phenomenon in market, which includes received relatively little attention from business ethicists. In marketing at the macro level, there are issues of sustainability and waste of resources through overconsumption by fostering greed and materialism. Marketing operates at the hub of wealth creation; it attracts most of the general criticism directed at capitalism regarding the erosion of natural resources and the destruction of the environment. At micro level, it attracts a lot of criticisms for specific cases of deceit or cheating, such as misleading/inappropriate food labels or differential price advertising. There may be widespread criticism of marketing practices promoting products that are bad for health, like high-fat and high-salt foods, cigarettes and alcohol.

UK has made Ofcom(Office of Communication) to make the laws regarding product placement in a way described above. The code includes a section on 'Commercial references and other matters'. In this section, three principles are specified (under Section 10): (1) broadcasters must maintain full editorial control over programmed content, (2)editorial and advertising must be evidently separated, and (3) product placement is prohibited (http://www. ofcom. org. uk/tv/ifi/codes/bcode/commercial/).

Product placement and conventional marketing ethics

Ethical evaluation of marketing practices has generally used three major strands of moral philosophy, utilitarianism, deontology and virtue ethics (Robin & Reidenbach 1987). We live discussing 2 of them.

A utilitarian evaluation of marketing is mainly to focus on its usefulness to society, the fact that at a micro level, it aids mutual exchanges between producers and consumers, while at a macro level, it enables the society to take pleasure from the benefits of the division of labor. The ethical concerns of consumers regarding product placement fit into this category - product keeping guns and cigarettes, for example, may be observed as unethical by some consumers.

A utilitarian evaluation may well come to the final outcome that product placement is indeed, an ethical practice. That is under the reasoning that the more sales are the signs of customer satisfaction as can be reasonably assumed at least for cases of explicit product placement. Alternatively, there is the chance that increased product placement might, undermine the grade of mediated entertainment and information, , thus reducing social, utility even though it increases economical utility.

Virtue ethics might provide the greatest critique of product placement since it targets the intentions and the type of the person initiating the action rather than the ethical status of the act itself. By evaluating the virtual ethics in product placement ome points which can be drawn are in marketing, legality must be the main criterion for judging the ethical status of the motive. A marketing campaign done for the consumers who are up to date and who know that is a kind of advertisement differs in ethical terms from advertising to children who cannot distinguish between TV programs, games, songs and advertising.

If many consumers are aware about the technique of product placement, then it has very less effect ethically. Many young consumers indeed know about the nature and extent of product placement as it occurs in movies, Television shows and other entertainment products.

But the extent to which even a smart audience is aware of a product placement communication while these are just enjoying the dramatic entertainment is very hard to establish. Many consumers will say they are not influenced by advertising, but this claim seems no more credible than the claim of knowing about product placement as a marketing technique, it generally does not immune someone to deception.

Hence, there is a dependence on an ethical analysis that deals with product placement, which again can apply a utilitarian, a deontological and a virtue ethics perspective; except this it must also consider situation-specific factors that arise from the type of the product, the degree of consumer knowledge, the implication of, market segmentation strategies, the intention, of the marketer and, the intrinsic honesty of, the method of persuasion used.

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