Marketing and advertising of commercial products and services is under intense scrutiny with wide-ranging calls for putting restrictions on both activities.
Marketing communications are an essential part of a modern society, whether they are for commercial organizations, religions, voluntary groups or public services. This is especially so for a democratic society. Marketing is the core activity for any business -- without it, or with excessive restrictions on it, the business would not generate consumer awareness, sales or support the jobs that societies need. Bans and prohibitions mean that someone else is taking on the right to decide for others what they should see, read or hear. Generally speaking, we wouldn’t tolerate that in the context of expression of political or philosophical points of view, of theatre and writing and the related arts. So why should that principle be broken when the subject is expression of a commercial marketing viewpoint? The UK philosopher John Gray argues: “Freedom of expression in the arts and freedom of expression in advertising are not two categorically different things, subject to different standards and having different justifications; they are the same freedom, exercised in different contexts, with the same justification” (source: J. Gray – “Advertising Bans: Administrative Decisions or Matters of Principle?” – The Social Affairs Unit: London, 1991, pg. 10).
It is vital that we as marketers and advertisers constantly present the case for our roles and that we show we do it with a strong sense of social responsibility.