McCann Erickson, one of the leading ad agencies in the world asserts that advertising is 'Truth Well Told'; i.e. the art of presenting genuine & authentic claims about a product in an attractive & interesting way. Truth really be told, advertisers are faced with a lot of internal conflict everyday; confronted with a continuous process of moral reasoning, and making choices - between cost versus ethics, strategy versus ethics, effectiveness versus ethics, ROIs versus ethics. There are so many choices to make and so much to avoid! Racial, ethnic & gender stereotypes, distorted self-perceptions, unrealistic body image, misleading claims, manipulation, false comparisons, unqualified endorsers, misleading product demonstrations, controversial products... what a moral dilemma it is... and it is human to err; it is human to want to survive; it is human to be self-serving.
So what if you continue to exploit women's insecurities through advertisements that necessitate fairness for success? Just look at it as a message of hope for all the dark girls out there and not a message of despair!
So what if a brand manager endorses his 'own' brand pretending to be a qualified nutritionist? What they don't know won't hurt them anyway!
So what if we reinforce the negative perceptions kids hold about regular milk to promote our brand of flavored milk? At least we are giving mothers an alternative to cheaper bad-tasting foul-smelling regular white milk!
So what? I mean, profits almost always come with some degree of exploitation right? Who decides what's right and what's wrong? Just look at it this way: almost everything is grey; there is no black & white to choose from so you always have room to defend your choice (*phew*)! Moreover, in today's world, it would be suicidal to be as direct & blatantly honest as Ernest Shakleton, an Englishman who published the following ad in a newspaper during the 1900s:
"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success. Ernest Shackleton."