Rules, laws, and standards are used to determine the advertising approaches used in particular jurisdictions. The concept is referred to as advertising regulation. According to Choi (2014), some of the factors considered by authorities when enforcing such regulatory measures include the content of materials being advertised, timing as well as placement. For instance, health-related pieces of advertisements and those that tend to mislead consumers are keenly vetted by most governments across the world. A case study of the United States reveals that alcohol and tobacco advertisements are strictly controlled.
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Self-regulation is also practiced by several firms. They voluntarily take measures before advertising their products to safeguard their public and marketplace reputation (Majumdar, 2013). Both self and external regulations of advertisements aim to achieve the following objectives:
- Establishing ethical rules for the advertising industry
- Promoting a peaceful environment for doing business
- Establishing complaints/solution scheme as well as the settlement of disputes
- Enhancing prompt solution and objective handling of emerging disputes that arise from advertising.
The recommendations of the International Chambers of Commerce (ICC) and the guidelines of the International Code of Advertising Practice were originally published in 1937 and revised in 1949, 1955 and 1966, and finally in 1973 during the Congress held in Rio. The terms were adopted in Brazil by 250 organizations from over 40 countries. The guidelines of the International Advertising Association (IAA)) and the World Congresses highlight the importance of effective and regulated advertising and the need for organizations to undertake self-regulation (Rotfeld & Taylor, 2009).
Most governments have passed laws that govern advertising products. This paper seeks to discuss these regulations since they are similar and universally applicable across the board. For example, every advertisement should demonstrate dignity and adhere to the laws of a nation.
Advertising regulation also aims at protecting children in most cases.
The debate on the regulation of advertising targeting children is permeated by a fundamental concern. Are children prepared and able to critically interpret appeals that are constantly directed to them? Given the media’s influence on the rise of advertisements that target children and adolescents, there is increasing concern on the effects of these advertisements in many parts of the world. Many experts believe that children are still in the biophysical and psychic development stages and therefore, they lack the necessary skills to understand advertising languages that come in all forms (Choi, 2014). This explains why several established democracies have implemented restrictions in this field.
For example, Canada, the USA, England, Germany, Norway, Ireland, Belgium, Austria, and Greece among other countries have specific norms about advertising directed to children. Another important reference is the Swedish legislation which prohibits any advertising on television aimed at children below 12 years at certain times of the day and early evening hours.
Several authors warn of the fact that in modern society, children and adolescents have become the target of corporate advertising since they are guided by commercial interests (Schneider, 2015). Hence, children are seen as consumers. The difference between programs for children and commercialization of childhood advertisements is quite narrow and so even most parents and guardians find it cumbersome to guide young ones appropriately when programs are being aired. Advertisements directed at children contribute to the spread of consumerist values and increased social problems such as premature sexualization, family stress, and early alcoholism (Rotfeld & Taylor, 2009).
A Study such as the one conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics identifies various implications of excessive exposure to advertising. For example, some advertisements lead to unhealthy eating habits. The latter is becoming a public health problem in many parts of the world including the developed nations (Rotfeld & Taylor, 2009).
The confidence and trust required from consumers can be swiftly obtained through advertising (Majumdar, 2013). However, it is prudent to mention that any form of advertisement should be legitimate and decent enough before being aired to the general public. It is also vital to mention that advertisements that are not truthful or maybe misleading are highly likely to keep consumers away from purchasing the concerning products (Schneider, 2015). Hence, even in the absence of government regulation, business entities should still craft their self-regulation mechanisms to paint a positive image to the targeted market.
Advertisements that are supposed to be aired or broadcasted should be re-examined keenly before they are let out to the public. In other words, pre-clearing is necessary for all advertisements that are aired in either audio or visual media (González-Maestre & Martínez-Sánchez, 2015). Most governments have put in place broadcast advertising codes so that full compliance can be exercised by the advertising firms. In the case of non-broadcast advertising, it would be cumbersome for the regulatory authorities to clear each piece of an advertisement because they are produced in millions every year. Hence, self-regulation remains the best approach that advertisers can use.
In recap, advertising regulation is a major area of concern for various jurisdictions across the globe. While various industry players make sure that their pieces of advertisements meet the marketing objectives, both self and government regulations on advertisements are still necessary.
Choi, M. W. (2014). A Study on the Regulation Direction of Hybrid Message Form: The Regulation of Embedded Advertising. International Conference on Convergence Technology, 4 (1), 93-94.
González-Maestre, M., & Martínez-Sánchez, F. (2015). Quality choice and advertising regulation in broadcasting markets. Journal of Economics, 114(2), 107-126.
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Majumdar, S. K. (2013). Regulations and Strategy: Evidence on Advertising. Annals of Public & Cooperative Economics, 84(3), 323-341.
Rotfeld, H. J., & Taylor, C. R. (2009). The Advertising Regulation and Self-regulation issues Ripped from the Headlines with opportunities for disciplined multidisciplinary research. Journal of Advertising, 38(4), 5-14.
Schneider, G. P. (2015). Electronic Commerce (11th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.