business ethics

business ethics

1. Identify a particular advertising campaign, either in magazines, on tv, or on the internet. Make sure it is a propaganda advertising campaign, per the definition given in the propaganda advertising notes posted on Moodle. Please do not use any campaign featuring a celebrity, sports figure, or "personality"; and make sure the campaign you choose is a commercial campaign, and not a political or a non-profit campaign for some cause. Finally, please do not use any of the advertising campaigns we have discussed in class. Select one particular ad from the campaign you’ve identified, and provide an analysis of that ad. This analysis should identify each of the three key elements on a propaganda ad, as given in the Moodle notes. For the first two elements (symbol and meaning), your analysis should be detailed and in-depth, like the analyses we conducted in class of Clairol and Marlboro ads.

2. Based on your own ideas, experience, or research, describe two real-life cases from the world of business. These should be cases in which you think it is very difficult to decide what the right thing to do is for some individual person. Now put yourself in that person’s position, and describe the details of each case in no more than two paragraphs. STEP 1: Then, for each case, itemize the ethical pro’s and con’s, and explain each one. Then explain which of these ethical considerations should take priority, in your judgment, and why. STEP 2: Then, for each case, taking your own self-interest into consideration, would you choose to do the ethical thing, as you have defined it in this case? Why or why not? Be sure to include an explanation of your approach to the idea of integrity as part of your answer here.

3. What philosophy of social justice is in your judgment the most reasonable one? Keeping in mind the definition of a “philosophy of social justice”, give an explanation of exactly what sorts of rules your chosen philosophy would support. Explain what makes this philosophy the most appropriate one, in your judgment.

Propaganda advertising is just what the name implies: essentially it is a form of propaganda. It tries to draw on symbolic details (usually visual) that are already entrenched in the culture, and that have some important meaning to us (=needs, wants, values, fantasies, or prejudices). It then tries to attach some product to those powerful symbolic details, so that the meaning of these symbols (=the associated needs, wants, values, fantasies, or prejudices) are now connected to that product.

1. There are several key moments in the development of propaganda advertising:
A. the Nazi’s development of propaganda, most notably Leni Riefenstahl’s notorious film about the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremburg, “Triumph of the Will”
B. Marlboro Man campaign
C. the development of the Clairol ad campaigns by Shirley Polykoff, beginning in 1956 (as documented in Malcolm Gladwell’s piece, “True Colors”)

2. Propaganda advertising seeks to influence consumers by
A. presenting symbolic details that evoke a strong emotional response because they
(i) have deep cultural meaning. (To fully understand any symbolic detail, always ask what underlying meaning it symbolizes. E.g. welcoming, available female sexuality is what is symbolized by the various features of the original St. Pauli girl advertisements. The symbolic details are those features that are used to represent this underlying idea.)
(ii) i.e., they have strong desires, emotions, values, fantasies attached to them

B.  and then attempting to tie the product to these emotionally-significant symbols. (the banner across the bottom of the ad, the familiarity that comes from persistent use of the same or similar “girls” over time)
C. notice how resistant the power of this approach may be to critical reflection: effective propaganda advertising is not like a magic trick (its glamour is not dispelled by a critical understanding of the trick—this is why deception or misinformation is not necessarily an essential component of propaganda advertising. This is also what distinguishes propaganda advertising from subliminal advertising.)
?Axe commercials—an illustration: It’s not a belief that the Axe commercials connect with, but a value, or, perhaps a deeply-seated desire, or a combination of these two things. At least in the dominant culture here (and perhaps in many cultures), the “ego-ideal” that many men have is that they are or should be irresistibly-attractive to women. This isn’t simply a matter of sexual desire, is it? It’s a matter of wanting to be “powerful”, and defining power in terms of sexual irresistibility. The Axe commercials play out a fantasy for men who have this ego-ideal, namely, that they could, almost magically, make themselves irresistible simply by (this is the key for the ad) using a certain product. Just because the men in question know this is a fantasy doesn’t make it any the less powerful. In fact, seeing the fantasy played out can be a very powerful way of tying the product to the ego-ideal in question. What are the symbolic details in the Axe commercials that convey this ego-ideal of sexual irresistibility?

?two questions to test your understanding of what propaganda advertising:
(a) is any advertisement that appeals to emotion therefore a form of propaganda advertising? (HINT: think about the “save the children” advertisements)
(b) does all propaganda advertising necessarily emphasize “materialistic” values over “spiritual” ones?

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