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The case study outlines that Nike was placing billboard advertisements in Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods to announce their newest athletic shoes endorsed by fellow African-American superstars. The athletic shoes run from $50.00 to $125.00 which is very expensive in general, but especially for the families in the neighborhoods the ads were displayed.
Children who lived in this area were affected by both gang violence and criminal activity; if they somehow managed to afford a pair of the sneakers, they were harmed by other children who would attack and kill them to steal their sneakers. Spike Lee, Michael Jordan, and Bo Jackson all made claims that wearing these sneakers would allow them to jump higher, run faster, and encourage people of all backgrounds to get along. Nike carefully picked who would represent them in these ads because they wanted them to be good role models and relatable to the consumers.
Although concise, the code of ethics is helpful in evaluating the ethical considerations of the study. It is written in the code, that “Advertising shall tell the truth and shall reveal significant facts, the omission of which would mislead the public.” However, Gordon, et al. questions the code specifically because the industry has void and unproven statements and uses terms such as “Award-Winning” when there is no direct competition, which is unethical. They define this as puffery- the technique advertisers use to try and manufacture significant distinctions in the mind of audience members between essentially identical products. The celebrities claim of being able to jump higher and run faster in the Nike brand sneakers may be true, but what are they comparing them too: other athletic sneaker brands, tennis shoes, or being barefoot? That may have weight on the ability to perform better athletically, but they didn’t state the comparison so technically, that is unethical to claim.
The code of ethics also says “Advertising containing testimonials shall be limited to those of competent witnesses who are reflecting a real and honest opinion or experience”. I doubt very highly that a pair of sneakers make you jump higher, run faster, and will bring people together not only because sneakers don’t fit into the laws of physics but because children with the sneakers were shot and robbed of them. Regardless of physics equating how high someone can jump or run, people proved that these sneakers did not bring people together in the slightest. Ergo, the claims made towards the sneakers were not true and therefore they were unethical.
The code of ethics is not helpful in evaluating the ethical considerations of the study because it clearly states that The American Advertising Federation has not updated their code of ethics since 1984, which makes it almost obsolete. With the new stages and phases of media (and society), they are totally disregarding modern-day harms by not attending to updating the code. A lot has changed since 1984 and it is almost unethical to have not kept the code relevant to the hanging times…lets ponder that for a second.
Communitarianism emphasizes the influence of society on individuals and argues that values are rooted in common history and tradition. Nike was trying to make their sneakers the standard of society by having them not only advertised, but having celebrity role models as their spokesmen. When peers began to buy the sneakers, others felt left out because they didn’t have the shoes for monetary or other various reasons, and that’s when the individuals were affected. Our values are rooted in tradition and history and those both show that people want to fit in and be equal. There is a lot of pressure on people to wear certain things at each stage or time in your life, and that stems from society as a whole. When people feel they don’t fit in, they are overwhelmed by the sense that they don’t belong and they feel inferior. it.
I don’t think anything is particularly helpful in making an ethical decision in this study- they are all helpful and it just depends on how each person applies the information. I was able to use both the code of ethics and the philosophical approaches to make ethical connections to the study, but some people may prefer one over the other. I think it has a lot to do with what information is available, how relevant the code of ethics is, and the study at hand. In this case, everything made sense and I was able to call upon it all.
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