Responsibility in Advertising: Do we have a duty of care?

This week I am going to look at the issue of advertising and discuss whether certain adverts should be publicised or if we have a certain duty of care to protect people from these. The ASA (advertising standards authority) was established in 1962 and monitors and regulates the content of advertising within the media. It follows a set of codes to ensure certain advertising standards are kept. . These codes have to be followed by all advertising and have to pass these certain standards in order for them to be broadcasted. However I am going to discuss whether certain advertising that is currently shown be banned in order to protect certain groups of people from these companies.


Cigarette or tobacco advertising used to be one of the most highly advertised products until the European Union or World health organization (WHO) stated that this type of advertising would no longer be allowed. In 1965 TV advertisement for cigarettes was banned due to the increase in health problems associated with smoking. However it wasn’t until 1991 that TV advertising for cigars and tobacco were eventually banned too. The reason it was banned was because of the health effects that were associated with smoking. It was felt that by regulating advertising we would find a decrease in smoking therefore increased health effects for people.


Prior to 1964 where the Cigarette Advertising Code was introduced many companies created false claims regarded their cigarettes. With increasing negative health effects becoming more well known companies tried to combat this by presented claims such as ‘ More Doctors Smoke Camels than any other cigarette’. These claims were created to try and combat the increased negative health effects of smoking (Richards, Tye & Fischer, 1996). Until the cigartte advertising code was introduced companies tried to target the youth by including their brand within certain kids TV programmes (Pollay, 1994). Other techniques such as using celebrity’s to endorse their products were found to be successful in encouraging smoking (Pollay, Lee, Whitney, 1992). Restrictions do seem to have had an effect too, as by 2004 almost half of all Americans who had smoked had quit (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2005).

In terms of sponsorship for sports cigarette advertising was huge. In particular Formula 1 driving every team had cigarette sponsorship until 2000 when Williams became the first major team to run without the cigarette advertising (Gray, 2003). After this most of the other teams began to gradually reduce the advertisement from increase pressure because of health implications. The last company to have cigarette advertsing was Ferrari who were sponsored by Marlboro until they stopped due to increased pressure from people regarding cigarette sponsorship (Cooper, 2011).


This then leads on my topic and addresses the issue of whether certain other advertising should be allowed. I have just spoke about cigarette advertising which was eventually banned due to the negative health effects regarding smoking. However other companies are still able to advertise even though there is surely a negative impact on people consuming it. For example alcohol advertisement, even though the health effects might not be regarded as as bad as cigarettes it is still damaging to your health. High levels of alcohol abuse can result in liver failure as well as cancer (Ronksley et al, 2002; Tolstrup et al, 2006). Therefore could it be argued that alcohol advertisement should also be banned. Even if it does include the drink-aware logo does this really have an effect and promote safe drinking. Should we be protected against alcohol advertising for the same reason as we are protected against cigarette advertising? The advert’s may not be promoting irresponsible drinking habits however this should not matter, it is still promoting something which causes serious negative health effects. Then again maybe I am being pedantic and everyone has a right to witness advertisement, i mean there are health problems with a lot of products if used in certain ways. Cars can be dangerous and cause deaths on our roads everyday and increase global warming yet these advertisements are not questioned.


Having said this their are certain companies I feel should not be allowed to advertise due the negative impacts these have on our welfare. They may not have the negative health impacts of smoking but they lead to addiction and financial problems which in turn causes health problems related to stress (Jenkins, 2009). Watching TV I have noticed the huge surge in betting companies adverts or online bingo/poker. With the increase in technology it has become increasingly easy to access the internet and majority of people now own a laptop, phone, tablet. Companies are profiting due to the fact that it has become so easy to access their products. We no longer have to go down the bookies if we want to make a bet, all we have to do now is turn on your device and its as easy as that. During every advert break now it is common to feature on of these companies.


Companies are deals continually to attract new customers. If they offer £30 free to new customers they may be initially losing out however they are relying on the customer continually coming back. The behaviour becomes habitual with the customer using the site every weekend for the football, therefore once this occurs it becomes increasingly hard for the consumer to stop the behaviour (Schneiger & Shoenberg, 2010). Therefore that original £30 that they give to you gets made back over time as you start to use your own money.


Other companies use celebrity endorsements to increase the reputation of the product. It has been found that we are more likely to consume and purchase products when celebrity’s advertise for them (Kamins, Brand, Hoeke & Moe 1989). We automatically assume that the product is more trusting and therefore are more likely to use it. This can be what starts people off with opening an account and then leads to them spending more and more of their money every week. In turn this can become a huge problem. Therefore I think gambling and betting advertisement needs to be monitored and certainly reduced. There is far too much temptation at the moment and I think the government needs to step in.

Wonga launches online pay service

Even though the amount of betting advertisement is something that annoys and something i think needs to be changed this is nothing to what I feel needs to be done to the pay day lending companies. Companies such as Wonga who are almost modern day loan sharks are getting away with murder and how they are still allowed to advertise is beyond belief. People are getting into huge financial trouble due to companies offering them a temporary way out of money problems. Anyone who is borrowing money from a company is clearly going to struggle to pay this money plus more at 4000% APR. This is shocking as needs to be put a stop too. The fact they are advertising on TV showing how easy it is for customers to borrow money is even more appalling. As i spoke about before with the increase in technology some of the companies advertise how the money can be within your bank within hours, this is far too appealing and needs to be stopped. A normal loan would probably cost around 8% however somehow Wonga and other companies are being allowed to charge over 2000% for any size loan. People with quick money problems are turning to the sites without fully realising the problems that this can cause. This then leads to huge problems in the long run by being in more and more debt.

I feel advertisement like this is just as immoral and if not worse than cigarette or alcohol advertisement and the goverment or the ASA needs to step in as we have a duty of care to people to protect them from companies like this. This doesn’t just stop at TV advertising but any sort. I have noticed Wonga are sponsoring Newcastle United Football club, by doing this it is giving the impression of them being a reputable trusting brand, which is something that needs to be changed. Again like using celebrity endorsements we feel we can trust the company (Kamins, Brand, Hoeke & Moe 1989).



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