Critical Analysis of Ethical Issues in Broadcast Media Advertisements. Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) in Focus

Master's Thesis, 2017

103 Pages, Grade: very good


Table of Contents

1.1. Background of the Study
1.2. Statement of the Problem
1.3. Objectives of the Study
1.3.1 General Objective
1.3.2 Specific Objectives
1.4. Research Questions
1.5. Significance of the Study
1.6. Scope of the Study
1.7. Limitation of the Study
1.8. Organization of the Study

2.1. The Importance of Advertising
2.1.1 Advertising and Information
2.2. Ethics and Ethical Issues in Advertising
2.2.1 Concrete Sets of Criteria for Ethical Advertising in Ethiopia
2.3 Universal Principles as Ethical Theory in Advertising
2.3.1 Truth
2.3.2 Human Dignity
2.3.3 Advertisement and cultural Values
2.4. Women and Advertising
2.4.1 The Sex Appeal
2.4.2 Idealized Image/Representation of Women in Advertisement
2.5. Theoretical Framework
2.5.1 Social Responsibility Theory
2.6. Role of Advertising in Representing Diversified needs
2.7. Harms Caused by Advertising
2.7.1 Materialism and Financial Stress
2.7.2 Harms on Children
2.8. The persuasive techniques in Advertising
2.9. The Regulation of Advertisement
2.9.1 Status of Advertising Regulatory Efforts in Ethiopia (the Proclamation of Advertisement)
2.9.2 Regulation of Advertisement Practices in Ethiopia Broadcasting Corporation
2.9.3 American Association of Advertising Policy
2.9.4 Advertising Regulation - Indian Perspective

3.2. Research Procedure and Sampling
3.2.1 Sample Selection, Size and Recruitment of Groups
3.2.2 Focus Group Discussion
3.2.3 In depth Interviews
3.2.4 Research Procedure

4.1. Critical Qualitative Content Analysis of Persuasive Techniques in Advertising
4.2. Rhetorical Analysis of the Selected Advertisements
4.2.1 The Ethos, pathos and Logos (With Regard to Ethical Issues)
4.3. Data Analysis and Presentation (findings from in depth interviews and focus group discussions)
4.4. Importance of Advertisement
4.5. Women Represented in the Advertising
4.6. Advertisements Targeting Children
4.7. Causes of unethical Advertisement
4.8. Impacts of unethical Advertisements
4.9. Treating Diversified Needs in Advertisements
4.10. Cultural Perspectives of the Advertisements
4.11. Persuasive Techniques of the Advertisements
4.12. Professionalism in the Ethiopian Advertisement Sector
4.13. Regulation of the Ethiopian Advertisement Sector



This research project has explored and critically examined the practice of advertisement and its ethical considerations in Ethiopia particularly the practice in Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation. A qualitative inquiry approach was employed for answering the investigation queries and to attain objectives of the study. The sample advertisement clips of this study were rhetorically analyzed. Moreover, four focus group discussions and twelve individual in-depth interviews have been used to further tighten the data obtained from the qualitative content analysis segment of the study and to explore the audiences ’ perception towards advertisements. 30 commercials broadcasted in three years period were purposefully selected. The selected commercials were analyzed and interpreted thematically to find out their apparent content. Furthermore, relevant literatures were also reviewed. The professional practice and the cooperative leadership among stakeholders in the sector were seen critically. The cultural and ethical aspects of the advertisements got analyzed in this study. The extensive literature review on media and advertisement, with universal ethics theory, facilitated the structuring of the research questions, which addressed the ethical issues in the advertising sector. The moral standard ruling the advertising industry; the ethical guidelines and the proclamation of advertisement with the universal principles of truth, human dignity and social responsibility are clearly stated in this study. In this qualitative inquiry, data were gathered through in depth interviews and focus group discussions. In addition to this, qualitative content analysis was employed. This was done by viewing and reviewing advertisement clips through the eyes of rhetorical criticism. The interview process lasted two months. The analysis of this study has been grouped in to two. These are; the findings of critical analysis by the researcher (done through viewing the advertisement clips) and findings from the focus group discussions and in depth interviews. Findings implied that most of the advertisements analyzed in this study might not favor the social values and norms. Most of the advertisement clips analyzed under this study seem limiting the role and the capacity of women and children. In some advertisements, women are represented as sex objects. While children are seen witnessing about products/services. Alcoholic drinks are perceived as important to health and a means to success.


First and foremost, I thank my GOD for everything he did for me; for always lifting me up from failure, direct me on my way and protect me from any evil situation.

I would like to thank my advisor, Professor Teunis Veen for the priceless advice he has given me from the inception of the research paper until the end. I thank him for his constructive encouragements and fatherhood advices he has given me during the work of this research.

I am deeply grateful to Dr. Getachew Dinku (the head of School of Journalism and Communication) for his warm welcoming any time I went for support. His fruitful support contributed a lot for the completion of the study.

My next gratitude goes to my parents and my family at large for their measureless endurance since beginning until now. I thank my father, Ato Teklemariam Gebrekidan whom I learned courage and wisdom from. I thank my mother, w/o Abale Gebremedhin whom she always encourages me to be a successful person. I thank you! dad and mom, for the long lasting, selfless & restless efforts you did to educate me. Long live to my father and my mother!!!

I thank you and love you my brothers and sisters( keshi Gebrekidan Teklemariam, Birhan Teklemariam, Alem/Askual Teklemariam, Hiwot Teklemariam, Mehari Teklemariam, Tsige Teklemariam, Teklay Teklemariam, Tewelde Teklemariam, Eibu Gebrekidan) I love you all. Long live to my brothers and sisters!

I would also like to thank all my friends who spent good time with me at Jigjiga University during learning our first degree. I am thankful to all my friends who spent such a marvelous time together at Meskerem Secondary School here in Addis Ababa.

I would like to thank all my class mates for their encouragement during my study.

Further, I want to express my gratitude to all my friends working at Mass Media Agency of Addis Ababa for their encouragement and support.

Lastly but not least, I would like to thank employees and journalists in Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation especially those who are in the promotion and marketing department for their warm and friendly welcoming. It would have been difficult to get the advertising clips without their support.

List of Abbreviations/Acronyms

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten



Advertising as a term came from the Latin word ad vertere, which means “to turn the mind toward a product”. The intention here is to turn or direct a person’s mind toward a specific product, service, or idea. In this case, it includes the means (creative processes) or channels of letting a person know about that good or service and persuade the person to use such.

Cheung, L. (2007) defined advertising is a profession in which a body of experts involved in the conceptualization, planning, creating, packaging and placing of advertisements on the media. Advertising: is a form of communication intend to persuade if viewers, readers or listeners to take some action. It is an exciting, dynamic, and challenging enterprise (2007:56).

Advertisement is a powerful means of commercial communication links the supply and demand sides altogether. It plays a vital role in informing consumers about the products and services. Hence, if the advertisement does not fulfill the legal and ethical aspects (like loyalty, truth, and responsibility), it will have negative impact on its audiences.

Advertisement is a way of informing consumers about a given product and service. It is considered to be a bridge connects the audience with the product. Advertising has become a popular means of market communication in Ethiopia. It has been an established fact that advertisement is the main source of revenue for many media organizations. Whereas, great deals of things should be taken in to consideration in the advertisement sector.

According to George Lawrence (2010, p75), puffery is more likely to be common in advertisements that broadcast media play a negative impact using exaggerated images and statements; so the ethical issue has to be taken seriously when advertising. Wubshet Walelign (2010) stated in his research that advertising is often on the cutting edge of new ethical culture and trend in our society. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest over the issue of how advertising reflects, reinforces and affects societal values. Some say advertising is a wise teacher providing useful and relevant information; others think it is overly intrusive.

Chris Moore (2004, 98) agrees that advertisement can be effective when the value in the message directly correspond with the value of the target audiences.

These days, it is obvious to watch and listen to a significant number of advertisements both on print and broadcast media in our country. Broadcast media are more likely to have power in grabbing audiences’ attention because of their images, audio and video clips. Therefore, this study focused on selected advertisement clips aired on TV; specifically Ethiopian broadcasting corporation towards ethical considerations. The researcher chose this topic because of its recentness that people often complain regarding this issue. Besides, the researcher had observed some advertisement clips, which are likely to mislead consumers and affect purchase decisions. Therefore, the researcher wants to contribute something by investigating more on the advertising sector.

1.2. Statement of the Problem

Advertisements are the most common marketing method used in business having a greater potential to reach a large number of people especially in the digital age; so the public is bombarded by advertising on a daily basis: George Lawrence (2010, p 80). Unlike the earlier era so many years back to our history of communication where there was no broadcast media and effective advertisement, things these days seem easier to be found using advertisements. Consumers are more likely to have information about the products and services they need to get. Straub haar and Robert (2006, p 46) contemplate that although the goal of advertising has always been to inform and persuade, it is undergoing dramatic changes as a form of communication.

It is obvious that media are powerful tool both to inform and misinform people. So advertisement clips aired on broadcasting media particularly on television have their own roles to change people’s attitude positively or negatively.

Advertisement plays a great role in speeding up social, economical, cultural and political aspects of a country. On the other hand, advertisement affects these all when it fails to be acting as ethical and legal. Broadcast media advertisements are even powerful in grabbing audiences’ attention than the print media advertisements.

Ethiopian broadcasting corporation has dominantly been advertising commercials for years since its foundation. Hence, many Ethiopians are heard raising questions on the case of ethical considerations of advertisements of EBC. The way varieties of audiences (women, children, people with disabilities, different religions and cultures) are represented, are always targets of the ethical considerations in which people raise questions. As ethics is the most critical one in advertisement, it has to be given due attention when aired to audiences.

The ethical and cultural values of the society have to be taken in to consideration when advertising. Nevertheless, it is common to observe advertisers in EBC undermining these societal values in their advertisement clips. Some people are heard complaining on the ethical practices of advertisements in relation to the unfair market competition for their degrading others product.

Taking all these in to account, this research project focuses on advertising practices in Ethiopian broadcasting corporation with attention to ethical issues and questions concerning misrepresentation of people and culture, deception of consumers, representations of women and children, as well as social responsibility of the advertisers and their agencies.

Thus, this study is important in finding out what is going on in the advertising sector and recommending possible solutions to the health, social and economical crisis.

1.3. Objectives of the Study

1.3.1 General Objectives

The general objective of this study is to analyze the advertising standards of Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation with regard to ethical considerations.

1.3.2 Specific Objectives

The specific objectives of the study are:

- To identify causes of unethical advertisements in the country.
- To investigate audiences’ perception towards advertisements.
- To analyze ethical considerations of advertisements aired on EBC.
- To generate recommendations enhancing ethical challenges face the advertisement sector in EBC and in the country as whole.
- To investigate the persuasive techniques of advertisements employed on EBC?

1. 4. Research Questions

A. To what extent advertisements aired on EBC respect ethical values of the society?
B. Why unethical manners happened in the advertisement sector and how they are interpreted in relation to the social context?
C. How audiences perceive ethical practices of advertisements aired on EBC?
D. To what extent is profession practiced in the Ethiopian advertisement sector?
E. How advertisers influence audiences’ attention during advertising?

1.5. Significance of the Study

Pointing out the challenges of the sector, this study is expected to give an opportunity for the concerned parties to apply possible recommendations found out by the researcher. The research aims to contribute something concrete in the advertising sector. The findings of the research also help to create a frame on discussions that focuses on issues of advertising in Ethiopia. This research can serve as a base for the next researchers who will make their research on issues of advertisement.

1.6. Scope of the Study

The scope of this study focuses on the ethical consideration of selected advertisement clips viewed on Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation for the last three years (2015-2017). This duration of time was chosen because of two reasons: first, it is hard to get advertisement clips of above three years from archive. Second, EBC is chosen for its access to advertisement and wide coverage as a national medium. It is about the ethical responsibility of advertisements aired on EBC; therefore, any other forms of advertising in other media organizations are not part of this study.

Furthermore, only twenty (20) commercials all advertisements except one, are selected due to the fact that it is quiet obscure to include all advertisements in the entire study. The commercials are chosen carefully up on their relevance to dictate the study under investigation and to show the existing reality, which bounds the controversy.

Though the research contains some sorts of ethical issues, it is predominately about advertising. The ethical concern is just to relate with the way advertising communicates.

1.7. Limitation of the Study

Time and financial constraints took their share in limiting the researcher to address advertisements in other media. Lack of related literature conducted on the area of advertisement particularly in our country was another limitation of this study.

1.8. Organization of the Study

The research is organized in five major chapters. Chapter one includes the background, statement of the problem, objectives of the research, significance of the research, scope of the research and limitation of the research. This chapter serves as a window to see the paper. Chapter two contains the literature review. The related works collected from various sources are compiled here. These literary collections will help to evaluate EBC’s advertisement standards with regard to Ethiopian proclamation of advertisement and the global principles of advertisements.

Chapter three explains the methods the researcher followed to conduct the research. The chapter reasons out why the implemented methodologies were applied.

Chapters four presents the data concerning advertisement in EBC and analyzes it. It shows detailed information about the ethical concerns of advertisement.

Chapter five is the final chapter. It contains two major parts. The first part is conclusion. It summarizes the findings of the study. The second part or recommendation gives alternative solutions to assure ethical and professional advertisement practices in the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation.


Advertising is a prominent genre in virtually all contemporary societies. It is closely connected with social economy, enterprise development, market exploitation, foreign trade and people’s daily life. It is ubiquitous and widely disseminated through newspapers, magazines, journals, television, radios, posters, etc ( K,bourn, J. 2006: 78).

According to John G Myers (2013, p 67), advertising also has an indirect but powerful impact on society through its influence on media. Many publications and broadcasting operations depend on advertising revenue for survival. This often is true of religious media as well as commercial media. For their part, advertisers naturally seek to reach audiences; and the media striving to deliver audiences to advertisers, must shape their content to attract audiences of the size and demographic composition sought. This economic dependency of media and the power it confers upon advertisers carries with its serious responsibilities for both.

The field of advertising is extremely broad and diverse. In general, terms of course, an advertisement is simply a public notice meant to convey information and invite patronage or some other response. As that suggests, advertising has two basic purposes: to inform and to persuade, and while these purposes are distinguishable, both very often are simultaneously present.

An overview of the Development of Advertising in Ethiopia Advertising existed in Ethiopia in the late 20th century during the regime of Emperor Hailesselassie. Following the emergence of Television in the country, the means of public announcement turned from using traditional microphones to modern broadcasting services. In the beginning stage, mostly public advertisements were commonly aired on the then ETV (Ethiopian Television). Some print media like Addis Zemen newspaper. However, modern advertisement became realized in the country through gradual process. Fortunately, the founding father of modern advertisement in Ethiopia, Mr. Wubshet Werkalemahu is one of the key informants of this study. With no documented law of advertisement, the sector was driving ahead the market communication through its informing and mediating role among the society until a proclamation of advertisement was set in 2012.

Since foundation, advertisement has been playing a vital role in the country’s socio economic move. Great deals of people have been employed in different advertisement agencies all over the country. Manufacturers and companies have sold their products and maximized their profit through the means of advertisement. This also is a good opportunity to customers to have awareness about products or services before they go and buy them. Besides, advertisement in Ethiopia has been contributing its share to view multi cultural colors of the country. As the demand for market was increasing from time to time, the nature of advertisement began emerged with various features. Some may satisfy customers; some may not.

Even though the modern advertisement in Ethiopia was introduced in the late 20th century, it is still in its infancy stage. Why? There are numbers of reasons that can be listed. The very big issue in the sector is, absence of professional practice. Many of the Ethiopian advertisement agents, administrative bodies and workers joined the sector with little/no-related educational backgrounds. Moreover, the second is poor administrative system in the sector. Having these and others, the sector is still encountered with challenges.

2.1. The Importance of Advertising

Goods and services are produced according to consumers growing and changing desires. They are competitive tools for companies among their rivals. Companies involved in the commercial production of goods and services need advertising for several important reasons. The first reason is that advertising helps to publicize and promote their products to the public thereby helping to improve sales (Dominick, 2013, p 83).

Through the various media, advertising messages can go beyond regional and national boundaries. Advertisements are exposed to a global market via the internet and social networks.

In order to compete with others, companies use creative and appealing advertisements to lure consumers to patronize their brands. Some companies will go as far as inundating the media with their advertisements in order to ensure that consumers’ attention is captured. However, Phillip and Raspberry argue that what counts is not what the company says about itself but rather what people say about it as experience shows that companies who trumpet heir virtues are barely average (Phillip and Raspberry, 2008, p 109).

Advertising for manufacturers has several advantages for people become aware of the existence products and services and lead them to making a purchase. This help increase the sale. Through advertising, companies communicate new products to consumers in an effective and cost effective way. Advertising simplifies the task of the salesperson and helps consumers reach out to new products (Chowdhury, 2011, p 112).

Advertising helps consumers to be more specific during shopping; consumers can make their choice before going shopping, they become aware of new businesses and new products and brands; through competition, which is enhanced by advertising.

2.1.1. Advertising and Information

Anne A. Christopher (2013, p 99) defined advertisements that provide truthful information about the price of a product and its attributes reduce the time and effort that consumers need to expend searching for the products that best satisfy their needs. Advertising can also provide for greater rivalry among firms because the greater flow of information brings more firms into competition with each other. The ability to advertise new products and services encourages innovative activity by firms.

Another important influence of advertising is its ability to spur innovative activity by providing firms with an effective way of informing consumers about the availability of new products, or new applications of existing products. Clearly, a firm will be more likely to invest in improving its product if it has the means of informing consumers about the existence of the improved product and of its advantages ( Barnali Chetia , 2015:48).

On the other hand, advertisements have impacts on the market of course, depends on the institutional setting. If producers/advertisers do not keep fair market competition and fail to respect the social and ethical concerns of market flow, it leads to disastrous end where unfair campaign of advertisings become the leading market.

People can be victim of such irresponsible ads by the time they simply buy products/services based on false or extremely exaggerated promotions. At the end of the day, customers will begin searching out alternative suppliers, and the original firm eventually will lose both its reputation and its profits. As long as consumers can judge the quality of products, as long as firms require repeat purchases and good reputations with consumers to remain in business, the forces of the market itself can punish poor quality and deception without any great need for government intervention.

2.2. Ethics and Ethical Issues in Advertising

Advertising, as an important component of media culture, passes through the screening process to determine the necessary mechanism to evaluate ethics in the field. Rotzoll et al. (2008:27) assert that there is a discomforting irony with advertising’s most prevalent ethical system which is often incompatible with the uncertainty of its principal product. In advertising practice, this ethical system is often expressed in terms of market forces, loosely based on classical liberal thinking and rationalized in the ethical sphere by the concept of utilitarianism, the greatest good for the greatest number based on some notion of cost-benefit analysis.

The advertising business will continue to be criticized in the ethical arena for either being unprincipled or for utilizing principles seen as inadequate for the task (Rotzoll et al. 2008, p 29).

Drumwright (2007:77) have argued that morality should be determined by the truthfulness of the message rather than by the worthiness of the product. Other academics have alluded to the interactions between media outlets and the ad world. For instance, Fink (1988:123) questions the role does advertising play in newspaper and television ethics. Are the consumer and society truly served by advertising or, as some argue, is advertising wasteful, unnecessary, and simply devoid of any redeeming social value?

The answers to these significant questions can emerge from any of the necessary two sides to the coin: in this case, the one of the defenders or that of the detractors. Those favoring advertising (including print and broadcast media executives) argue that it is a form of communication permits consumers to make intelligent choices about products and services. In their view of advertising stimulates consumption allowing the free enterprise system and mass production economies of scale that result in lower prices (Fink, 1988:124).

Advertising should be designed to conform to the laws of the country and should not offend against morality, decency and religious susceptibilities of the people. Such type of advertisements is termed as ethical advertisements that contribute to a good corporate reputation, heighten morale and, thus, increases the business for the advertised product.

Serious consequences can result from the failure to follow ethical and honest procedure when dealing with the public. The final blame must rest with the public relation or advertising arm of any organization. They are the final filter through which information and facts flow out to the public. They are alone responsible for the accurate and honest reporting of information.

2.2.1. Concrete Sets of Criteria for Ethical Advertising in Ethiopia

Ethics is a branch of philosophy that is concerned with human conduct, more specifically the behavior of individuals in society. Ethics examines the rational justification for our moral judgments; it studies what is morally right or wrong, just or unjust. Ethics are the set of principles, rules, standard and values that guide actions and create a sense of responsible behavior. The advertisers have to be especially careful to act ethically at all times, taking extra care when advertising to children, advertising potentially harmful products and using psychological tactics to stimulate demand.

Ethiopia endorsed proclamation to regulate its advertising sector in 2012. Under this proclamation, certain criteria of ethical and legal issues of advertising are mentioned. These are set to protect the social wellbeing of the consumers.

According to the proclamation no.759/2012, an advertising claimed to be unethical contains great deal of issues that can harm consumers: These include the dressing code of the person who promotes products especially in television. It is to mean that nudity is forbidden among Ethiopians; therefore, advertisers are expected to consider these norms.

Another criterion is the case of exaggeration; to win the competition, advertisers these days use multi exaggeration mechanisms to magnify products beyond their real image/content and service providing.

Advertising has a power to shape audiences perception towards specific products; so advertisers should take care of the way they present particularly to children. To regulate misleading, unfair competition, ill-treatment of diversified needs and other social values and norms of the society, advertising need to pass through these and other criteria.

2.3 Universal Principles as Ethical Theory in Advertising

Because it stands at the intersection of industry, communications, and group interactions, advertising can come under attack from anyone who is upset about any feature of these three domains (Rotzoll et al 2008, p 28). Certainly, the marketing practices throughout the historical development of the industry, the mass mediated communications used, and the possibility for stereotyping certain groups or communities represent rich fields for ethical issues.

Boddewyn, (1995:92) defined that governments did impose restrictions and rules in the marketing industry, but advertisers still find ways to use unethical advertising without tampering with legal issues. Firms need to decrease their ethical violations in advertising. Firms have to be more aware of ethical issues and put more effort in becoming more respectful to their consumers. Firms should monitor and police the extent of ethical violations deemed plausible for business, and they can let the market be aware of the manner in which they control their advertising ethics stature as a signal of their endeavor toward action and commitment of their corporate social responsibility perspective.

The code of ethics in advertising is to make the advertising the life of the consumer easier, more comfortable and pleasant. Thus, there are different principles emphasizing on ethics and honesty in advertising.

2.3.1. Truth

Truth is one of the highest values experienced in the communications realm. Subsequently truth telling is a natural act that must be observed as a duty by all humans. Truth is fundamental even in the Holy Bible, one can find statements related to the truth and freedom: “ And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free ” (John 8:32). Truthfulness is needed in almost every activity, field or professional action. In communication practice it appears everywhere in industry codes of ethics, and mission statements, and in classes and textbooks on media ethics (Christians and Cooper, 2010, p 71).

In advertising and public relations, the term deception, the antonym of truth, is considered to be absolutely forbidden (Christians and Cooper, 2010, p 74). The acid test of truth must be applied when one needs to distinguish between advertising that is ethical or that which is unethical (Starr, 2000, p 19).

Perhaps because the practice of persuasive communication messaging started on the wrong foot, advertising, advertisers and advertisements’ truthfulness has been questioned for many decades. In the beginnings of the industry’s development, the most advertised products were the patent medicines, whose claims were out rigorously exaggerated, misleading and deceiving in advertising was a minor topic (Pope, 1983, p 56).

According to Starr (2000, p 22), the organized effort to better the standards of advertising started by The Associated Advertising Clubs of America under the slogan Truth in Advertising was a clear indication of the necessity to put their own house in order.

The ethics of advertising copy began to receive more intensive attentions from both buyers and sellers of advertising. Pope (1983, p 53) argues that at least some advertising agencies in the 1890s were scrutinizing their prospective clients’ ethics and even turned their business away. While curbing the scope of patent medicine ads was probably the most important development in advertising ethics in the first decade of the 20th century, advertising professionals also began to perceive the moral questions pertaining to other issues. Opposition to overt rivalry and price competition in advertising, for example, was elevated from practical advice to a moral injunction.

The truth crusade served the purpose to build advertising credibility and helped the industry in winning public acceptance. Therefore, the trends in advertising ethics in relation to truth-telling still need some questioning and adjustments.

2.3.2 Human Dignity

The principle of the dignity of the human person condemns advertisements that violate people’s right to make a responsible choice or exploit man’s lower inclinations. This theory is particularly relevant for vulnerable groups such as children, youth, elderly and poor people as well as the culturally disadvantaged (Foley, 1998, p 67).

In advertising, the concept of target audience refers to a specific segment of the general population at which the advertisers aim their messages. The notion of an audience has distinctive implications for the creation and delivery of advertisements. The human dignity norm has taken a central position in media ethics and subsequently in advertising.

Deception and misrepresentation are two of the most renowned wrongs advertising poses to its audiences. Both of these actions represent attacks to the sanctity of life and human dignity of every individual. In that respect, scholars, religious institutions and regulators have theorized about ethnic diversity, racism and sexism in advertising (Foley, 1998: 72).

Advertising contributes to the stereotyping of particular groups that places them at a disadvantage in relation to others. This is repeatedly true, for example in the way advertisements depict women.

How frequently is the role of woman limited to that of mother and wife, compared to that of men who may be represented in far more roles than that of father or husband? How every so often are females treated not as persons with an inviolable dignity but as objects whose purpose is to please/serve others? How regularly is the role of women in professional life represented as “intrusive” into a territory presumed to be for men only? Similar situations occur with individuals who may have limited physical attributes, such as sight-impaired, racial groups, minorities and others. Likewise, there are many voices claiming that citizens are portrayed with respect in advertisements and that different cultures and ethnic group are represented in advertising about the same as the majority of the population.

According to Griffin (1994:75), the violation was a fate worse than death. This was the logic of his categorical imperative a term that means duty without exception; something Kant stated as a universal law. Also under Kantian ethics, all human beings should be treated with respect and dignity. Respect for another person’s dignity is one ethical principle on which various cultures rest.

The imperative of human dignity grounded in the sacredness of life moves us beyond an individualistic morality of rights to a collectivistic social ethics of the common good (Christians and Cooper, 2009:185).

Media and advertising professionals have enormous opportunities for putting a person’s sacredness to work and enhancing the value of what it means to be a prime representative of the human species, regardless of race, gender, age, sexuality, physical abilities or other factors. To honor human dignity ethically, advertisers should embrace a moral cosmos of nonhierarchical collective relationship. In other words, they must allow audiences to enjoy the fundamental need of human recognition and feel self-reflected in the advertising mirror. Such accomplishment is a vital value.

2.3.3 Advertisement and Cultural Values

A central point here is to discuss the concept of culture in order to understand the role of Cultural values in conveying advertisement messages.

Lee. M, and Johnson, C. (1999:57) define culture as; “a body of tradition, habits, religion, art and language consisting of beliefs, morals and customs learned from others. Along similar line, Mooij (2005:174) also emphasize the importance of cultural values in advertisement while attempting to build relationship between consumer and producer. Advertisement must reflect our ideas, our values, our acts and our emotions, as we are individuals under the guidance of cultural patterns and historically created systems of meaning. Referring to consumer behavior and advertising, Mooij, (2005:170) argue that strong influence on consumer behavior comes from the culture in which people live.

“ Culture represents the ideas, values, attitudes, artifacts and symbols governing the behavior of a member of the group; it determines many of the responses that individuals make in a given situations. Unless otherwise the cultural values of the society respected in advertisement practices the society rejects the media and its message may for a long periods of time ” (Wright et al., 1982: 228).

According to Perner (2008:31), Culture comprises the common meanings and socially constructed values accepted by the majority of members of a society or social group. It includes such things as shared values, beliefs, norms, and attitudes, as well as affective reactions, cognitive beliefs, and patterns of behavior.

McQuail (2005:113) emphasizes communications role in culture. He argues: Perhaps the most general and essential attribute of culture is communication, since cultures could not develop, survive, extend and generally succeed without communication.

Therefore, advertisers must understand cultural values of a given society to be able to select effective and appropriate advertising messages. Thus, cross-cultural studies are crucial in understanding different cultural values.

2.4. Women and Advertising

2.4.1. The Sex Appeal

Sex appeal can be defined as messages, whether as brand information in advertising contexts or as persuasive appeals in marketing contexts, which are integrated with sexual information, in particular, this appeal can be defined as the degree of nudity or sexual explicitness in an Advertisement, It can be found in the visual, audio, and verbal elements of advertisements (Liu&Li&Cheng 2006:112).

Such techniques are intentional and are sometimes meant to be controversial to grab more attention, increasing the viewer’s interest to follow the Advertisement to eventually create the desired brand awareness and enhance persuasion. In support of the different claims of advertisers, many scholars have studied sex appeal and nudity and its effect on advertising, almost all of them indeed proved that they do grab attention regardless of all the other different variables, such as age, gender or cultural background. (Walker1999,p 43)

Conna et al. stated that criticism have been repeatedly observed in many advertisers for the way they depict women in ads. Frequently cited issues are underrepresentation of women, their representation in stereotypical roles and the excessive focus on them as sex objects (2010, p 39).

Of all these issues particularly troublesome is the undue focus on women as sex objects performing only in limited household activities as if they cannot compete with men. This excessive sexuality in cases is a threat to accepted standards of decency and deeply wounds the integrity and dignity of women.

2.4.2. Idealized Images/Representations of Women in Advertisement

There are many definitions of “beauty”, which could be based on one’s ethnicity, personal values, and what is determined to be beautiful and ideal by society. Ashmore, (1994) focused on cultural determinants of real beauty, and claims that physical attractiveness is not a one- dimensional construct in the definition, meaning physical attractiveness has multiple factors to it, not only the one thing that meets the eye. Because society is incredibly tied up in the preconceived notion that beauty only equals physical appearance and attractiveness, while beauty can encompass every aspect of a human being, these other aspects are more often disregarded, however, because they are not visible to the human eye (p. 49).

Society does not consider others culture when they define beauty; rather, they focus on the traditional focus of beauty’s constituent elements, which is confusing and unfair to those of different cultures that could have their own definition of beauty.

In order to better understand cultural and ethnic factors in one’s perception of beauty and Self-esteem, Frisby’s (2004, p 123) study supports the hypothesis that culture and ethnicity can contribute to one’s perception of beauty, and a new thought that culture and ethnicity can also contribute to one’s reaction to the thin ideal and idealized images.

Moreover, Ashmore (1994:42) focuses on advertisers who have a specific type of beauty in mind for their advertising casting, wardrobe and props, make up, and so on to further sanction ideals of beauty. These ads teach young women how they should look in society if they want to comply with society’s expectations of women, which is not always a realistic or healthy expectation (p. 51).

This emphasis of beauty, being thin, and self-image is revealed to girls at a young age and continues well on after their teen years, and can inhibit eating disorders and compulsive exercising in the future.

A complicated aspect to this thin ideal is included in Dittmar’s (2009:64) study on the impact that thin medial models have on women’s body image. There is a widening gap of body sizes of media models and “ordinary women,” which can have an impact on perceptions of their own bodies in relation to models’ bodies that have much difference.

Due to the gap that expands more and more every year, women create an internalization of the ultra-thin ideal as a personal goal, and have been found to be a potent correlate of body dissatisfaction in Dittmar’s (2009:65) study. With this personal goal in mind, women are focused on their body image, influencing psychological functioning and unhealthy body-shaping behaviors to achieve the thin ideal body type.

The concept of beauty is a widespread term used to describe the specific body type that has been understood to be the ideal shape of a woman. Advertising and media as a whole clearly portrays a certain type of image known as thin body shape, facially attractive, woman with long hair and being tall etc.. Contribute to women’s low self-esteem on those who do not have these descriptions and then skewed perception of the ideal image to which they should compare themselves. The literature showed that advertising could have a negative effect on women’s self- image.

2.5. Theoretical Framework

2.5.1. Social Responsibility Theory

Social responsibility theory has generally allowed formalism to dominate its paradigm in the same way the prescriptive model commandeered journalism ethics the preceding half century (Christians, 2010:98). The theory establishes that an organization or an individual has an obligation to act to benefit society.

Social responsibility is such a broad concept. However, only issues relevant to advertising will be considered in this discussion. Advocates of corporate ethics and corporate social responsibility have long argued that companies should be concerned with a “triple bottom line” (Drumwright, 2007, p 211), a concept which encourages business to act as a guardian of the environment, society and the economy, and that paves the way to Corporate Social Responsibility. The term “CSR report” is used instead of a triple bottom line report, but the two are interchangeable.

Corporate Social Responsibility thus involves assessing all the probable ways that a company's actions and operations may affect others. It means looking at the company’s stakeholders to consider how decisions affect a wide range of individuals, groups and organizations. CSR is the long-lasting commitment for ethical behavior in the business environment, contributing to economic development and improving the quality of life of the employees and their families in addition to enhancing the well-being of the local community and society in a broader context.

Foley (1998) argued that advertising and marketing practitioners should observe a rigorous respect for the moral, cultural and spiritual requirements, based on the dignity of the person. In his terms, advertisers, like people engaged in other forms of social communication, have a serious duty to express and foster an authentic vision of human development in its material, cultural and spiritual dimensions (p, 66).

Clearly, the challenge for advertisers is to act responsibly in order to be recognized as good moral citizens. Consequently, corporate ethics will continue, as the prerogative of management (Fink, 1988:82) and those ethical rules must be transcribed into a readable and actionable form commonly known as codes.

Christians and Cooper, (2010:231) put codes of ethics in the larger context of the social responsibility theory. Codes of ethics contribute to bringing society to the forefront, if these codes are re-oriented from media centered professionalism to social responsibility as a citizen- based paradigm.

If codes conducts are to set the standards of ethical practice in the business world, the opportunity for the advertising firms and practitioners is to respect the moral life as a whole, complying with the basic components of the sacredness of life: truth-telling, no harm to innocents and human dignity (Christians, 2008: 132).

The ecological issue is one. Advertising that fosters a lavish life style which wastes resources and despoils the environment offends against important ecological concerns. In his desire to have and to enjoy rather than to be and grow, man consumes the resources of the earth and his own life in an excessive and disordered way. Man thinks that he can make arbitrary use of the earth, subjecting it without restraint to his will, as though it did not have its own requisites and a prior God-given purpose, which man can indeed develop but must not betray (Jain Ashok, 2012:52).

As this suggested, something fundamental issue is authentic and integral human development. Advertising that reduces human progress to acquiring material goods and cultivating a lavish life style expresses a false, destructive vision of the human person harmful to individuals and society alike.

When people fail to practice a rigorous respect for the moral, cultural and spiritual requirements, based on the dignity of the person and on the proper identity of each community, beginning with the family and religious societies, then even material abundance and the conveniences that technology makes available will prove unsatisfying and in the end contemptible. Advertisers, like people engaged in other forms of social communication, have a serious duty to express and foster an authentic vision of human development in its material, cultural and spiritual dimensions.

2.6. Role of Advertising in Representing Diversified Needs

In multi lingual, multi cultural and multi religious countries like Ethiopia, the role of advertisement needs to be representative. When advertising clip often reflects similar and specific cultural dressing, religion, and sayings, it may not address the diversified needs of its audiences. It also creates images that lead to a misrepresentation in which people may feel as if the product does not belong to them. Perhaps the media, the creative directors and the account executives are responsible for shaping the perception of misrepresentation in the advertisement.

The idea of ruling class is in every age; the ruling idea that is the class, which is dominant material force in a society, is at the same time its dominant intellectual force. The class that has material production at its disposal has control at the same time over the means of mental production, So that in consequence the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are in general subject to it. The dominant are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships that grasped as ideas and thus of relationships which make one class the ruling one Marxist (1964, p78).

In the 21st century, ethical concerns regarding advertising practitioners and practices are flourishing. Therefore, it is necessary to question whether advertisers should be allowed to suggest that using the product they promote would change a person’s life. A prior one is compelled furiously refute such misrepresentations. It is the duty of this study to put forward the evidence and uncover causes and effects of unethical advertisements through broadcast media in our country.


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Critical Analysis of Ethical Issues in Broadcast Media Advertisements. Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) in Focus
Addis Ababa University
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Alula T. Gebrekidan (Author), 2017, Critical Analysis of Ethical Issues in Broadcast Media Advertisements. Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) in Focus, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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