Canadian Code of Advertising

  • The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, which has been developed to promote the professional practice of advertising, was first published in 1963
  • The code sets the criteria for acceptable advertising and forms the basis upon which advertising is evaluated in response to consumer, trade, or special
  • Advertising: any message expressed in any language and communication in any medium to Canadians with the intent to influence their choice, opinion or behavior
  • Advocacy advertising: is defined as advertising which presents information or a point-of-view bearing on a publicly recognized controversial issue
  • Government advertising: is defined as advertising by any part of local, provincial or federal governments, or concerning policies, practices or programs of such governments, as distinct from political advertising and election advertising
  • Political advertising: is defined as advertising appearing at any time regarding a political figure, a political party, a political or government policy or issue, or an electoral candidate
  • Election advertising: includes advertising about any matter before the electorate for a referendum, government advertising, and political advertising any of which advertising is communicated to the public within a time-frame that starts the day after a vote is called and ends the day after the vote is held
  • Special interest group: is defined as an identifiable group, representing more then one individual and/or organization, expressing a unified viewpoint that is critical of the content of an advertisement, and/or the production method or technique and/or the medium, used to carry the advertisement and convey its perceived message
  • The code applies to advertising by: advertisers promoting the use of goods and services and corporations, organizations or institutions seeking to improve their image or advance a point of view, and the governments, government departments and crown corporations
  • Excluded from the definition of “medium” and the application of the code:  foreign media unless the advertiser is a Canadian person or entity, and packaging, wrappers and labels
  • Advertisements must not contain inaccurate or deceptive claims, statements, illustrations or representation, either direct or implied, wit regard to a product or service
  • Advertisements must not omit relevant information in a manner that, in the result, is deceptive
  • All pertinent details of an advertised offer must be clearly stated
  • Disclaimers and asterisked or footnoted information must not contradict more prominent aspects of the message and should be located and presented in such a manner as to be clearly visible or audible
  • Both in principle and practice all advertising claims and representations must be supportable
  • The entity that is the advertiser in an advocacy advertisement must be clearly identified as the advertiser in either or both the audio o video portion of the advocacy advertisement
  • No advertisement shall include deceptive price claims or discounts, unrealistic price comparisons or exaggerated claims as to worth or value
  • Where price discounts are offered, qualifying statements such as “up to” “XXX” must be in easily readable type, in close proximity to the prices quoted, and were practical, legitimate regular prices must be included
  • Prices quoted in advertisements in Canadian media, other than in Canadian funds, must be so identified
  • Advertisements must not misrepresent the consumer’s opportunity to purchase the goods and services at the terms presented
  • No advertisement shall offer a guarantee or warranty, unless the guarantee or warranty is fully explained as to conditions and limits and the name of the guarantor or warrantor is provided, or it is indicated where such information may be obtained
  • Testimonials endorsements or representations of opinion or preference, must reflect the genuine, reasonably current opinion of the individual, group or organization making such representations, and must be based upon adequate information about or experience wth the product or service being advertised
  • Advertisements must not distort the true meaning of statements made by professionals or scientific authorities
  • No advertiser should imitate the copy of mother advertisers in such a manner as to mislead the consumer
  • Advertisement must not without reason, justifiable on educational or social grounds, display a disregard for safety by depicting situations that might reasonably be interpreted as encouraging unsafe or dangerous practices
  • Advertisements must not exploit superstitions

Historical Factors in Advertising

  • Advertising is a key element in economic history as well as our social, technological, artistic and cultural histories perhaps one of the keys to the understanding of the evolution of our complex urban society
  • The effect of economy:  where there is little division of labor, all people are self-sufficient, making for themselves whatever they need
  • The effect of social organization: as the size of social units increases, as societies become more complex and geographically dispersed, some means of informing potential markets is clearly necessary for the growth of business
  • The effect of media technology: the media technology required for advertising is the same as that required for communication in general. The first technology of all is oral, the human voice; it has the longest history as an advertising medium
  • The role of literacy: until technology made possible the extension of literacy during the late Middle Ages, literacy played a small role in the development of advertising
  • The development of brands was a predictable consequences of the increase in productive capacity of manufactures, or of what historian
  • The effect of the brand name was to transform the relationship between manufacturer and retailer and to create a new structure of marketing
  • The birth of the advertising agency: the promotion of brands was facilitated by the creation of a new advertising institution, the advertising agency, which was to specialize in the creation of demand for brand names
  • John B Watson = scientific advertising

Subliminal Persuasion is a Threat

  • Wilson bryan key= author of several books on subliminal persuasion= the theory that human behavior can be controlled by messages that bypass conscious perception and operate directly on the unconscious mind
  • Casual examination of ads reveals an imaginative assortment of deliberate genital symbols
  • Birth, reproduction, and finally death provide strong, underlying archetypal themes for numerous ads
  • Many people believe in the power of subliminal persuasion= Anthony R. Pratkanis argues that while evidence exists that proves messages can reach mind subliminally—that is, other than through conscious perception
  • Wilson Key= 1) argued that subliminal techniques were not just limited to television and movies 2) was successful in linking the concept of subliminal persuasion to the issues of his day

Criticisms of Advertising

  • Because advertising increases the overall sales of a particular brand, it permits economies of scale that are reflected in lower prices for consumers
  • Advertising allows inefficient large manufacturers to dominate the scene because newer producers cannot allocate the large advertising budgets required to break into the market
  • Galbraith= neoliberal critique of corporate capatilism=thinks modern society’s emphasis on the production of goods and economic growth has harmfully affected such areas as resource use, the environment, and labor management relations
  • He believes that the satisfaction of consumer need that is the key to justifying the harmful effects of modern industrial production
  • He also believes that to be accepted, this theory must convince us that consumers wants and needs are independently determined—in other words, that wants and needs originate with the consumer
  • The Marxist account of the creation of demand through advertising is similar, except for in Marxist theory, advertising is such a vital and integral part of the system of capitalism that the one could not survive without the other
  • The tremendous growth in the scale of national advertising in the period from 1890-1920 is seen by Ewen as an indication of the way that capitalist domination and control would seek to affect the mass of the working population beyond the boundary of the factory gate
  • Neoliberal critique= market cannot be trusted to make good decisions about allocating resources, because advertising distorts the composition of needs and wants that producers are engaged in satisfying
  • Marxist critique= sees advertising as a response to the needs of advanced capitalism for a solution to the problem of realization
  • Packard’s dark vision of the manipulative and hidden impacts of advertising was reinforced by Wilson Bryan Key’s discussion of the alleged technique of subliminal perception in advertising
  • Consumer demand is manipulated not only by subtle technologies but also by the obvious content of commercial messages, which show people how to use commodities
  • Stuart Ewen calls attention to a transition period in the 1920s when advertising messages shifted from focusing on products to defining consumers as an integral part of the social meaning of goods
  • Raymond Williams= social and symbolic significance conferred upon goods by advertising show us that it is wrong to regard modern society as being too materialistic, as putting too much emphasis on the possession of goods
  • Williams then distinguishes between a rational use of goods, based on their utility alone and an irrational use of goods, based on what they symbolize—a distinction between use and symbol

Defenses of advertising

  • Michael Schudson= while advertising cannot create new needs, it can help to satisfy an old need in a new way and accelerate trends in consumption
  • Galbraith thinks that advertising  is an important element governing how much society consumes
  • Classical liberal economic theorists believe that the level of consumption is based on how much people have to spend that is on advertising
  • Producers advertise not because they know it will work, but because they do not know for sure that it will not
  • While advertising may not influence aggregate demand for a particular product group, it influences substantiality the market share commanded by any company at a given time
  • Driver and Foxall believe that detailed studies on consumer choices show that “ the depiction of consumers as rational, problem-solving beings is actually a highly limited description of buyer behavior

The Impact of Commercialism

  • Hyper-commercialized society and advertising in particular promotes materialism

Twenty Seven Problems with Advertising

1) Ads lie about the quality of products and services by touting benefits and hiding drawbacks 10) advertising projects unrealistic images of our society 19) commercial messages and corporate logos degrade the dignity of government agencies, museums and noncommercial radio
2) advertising contributes to environmental problems by encouraging wasteful consumption and over-packaging and by defacing the landscape with billboards 11) advertisers influence the content of many publications and broadcasts 20) advertising steals our time. The averge American will spend three full years of his or her waking life watching tv commericals
3) ads increase the prices of many products both because the cost of the ads and the higher-value image of products that the ads cultivate 12) corporate sponsorship may undermine the objectivity and influence the content of exhibits at science and art museums 21) advertising implies that there’s an easy solution to everything, from having friends to being healthy
4) advertising is subsidized by taxpayers 13) advertisers influence the content of movies and TV shows and even books and board games through product placement advertising 22) the incessant promotion of shopping and consumption distracts from other activities
5) advertising may encourage materialism, greed, and selfishness 14) advertisers’ sponsorship of civic, environmental and other non-profit groups discourages those groups from mounting activities that their benefactors don’t like 23) Direct marketers compile details electronic portraits of consumers
6) ads encourage a brand-name mentality 15) advertising promotes alcohol and tobacco addictions, which kill half a million Americans annually 24) advertising aimed at children intrudes on the parent-child relationship and undermines parental authority
7)image advertising can distort the public perception of a company’s activities and priorities 16) commercial advertising has paved the way for political advertising that offers more imagery than substance 25) advertising may erode values—such as sharing cooperation and frugality fostered by families, school
8 ) advertising may encourage people to care more about their own and others’ appearances than about their character, talents 17) ubiquitous advertising—on billboards, in the sky, and on the phone—means that we can hardly ever escape the annoyance of commercial messages 26) advertising perpetuates racial, gender, and class stereotypes
9) advertising fosters dissatisfaction, envy, and insecurity 18) advertising perverts our culture by turning every event into a sales event 27) advertising materials in school undermine objective education
  • The culture of waste fostered by advertising is fundamentally incompatible with basic tenants of environmentalism: recycling, conservation and reduced consumption
  • An averge person spends almost an hour a day reading, watching, or listening to television and radio commercials, theater advertising, ads at the beginnings of videotapes or talking to telemarketers
  • Just as the credit card industry is reshaping our perception of money into that of a limitless resource, so too is ubiquitous advertising affecting our attitudes about spending
  • When the distorted logic of commercial advertising becomes the currency of political, social, economic, and other forms of once- serious discussions, democratic government suffers

Advertising in the Age of Accelerated Meaning

  • Constructing this currency of commodity images requires that advertisements take the form of semiotic equations into which disconnected signifiers and signifieds are entered and then recombined to create new equivalencies
  • Judith Williamson= cracked open the operation of the advertising framework
  • Metastructure= where meaning is not just decoded within one structure, but transferred to create another
  • Product standardization makes imperative that products attach themselves to signs that carry an additional element of value
  • Contemporary ads operate on the premisenthat signifiers and signifieds that have been removed from context can be rejoined to other similarly abstracted signifiers and signifieds to build new signs of identity
  • In a mature sign economy, allusion to previous ad campaigns become rampant and imagery is fashioned out of bits and pieces of previous signs and media representations, including ads, TV shown, movies
  • Constructing a sign value retraces the path of meaning Roland Barthes describes as the transformation of language into myth
  • Producing marketable commodity signs depends on how effectively advertisers are able to colonize and appropriate referent systems
  • Signwork has evolved as a key practice of what Erving Goffman termed “facework” in an impersonal urban society
  • The name image bank is indicative of the fact that images have become a free-floating and interchangeable currency
  • Barthes understood that in the modern era this process of hinging and unhinging signifiers and signifieds could go on and on as the image of the bell gets lifted from its new context of generic tourism for use in yet another way

Ads as ideological:

  • as discourses that socially and culturally construct a world
  • as discourses that disguise and suppress inequalities, injustices, contradictions
  • as discourses hat promote a normative vision of our world and our relationship
  • as discourses that reflect the logic of capital

Toward a Critical Theory of Advertising

  • Schiller/ Ewen/ Bagdikian= present broader historical analyses which locate advertising and mass communications within the history of contemporary capitalism and examine their impact on the larger social and political economic structure
  • Sut Jhally= addresses the problem of linking media analysis to political economy and social and cultural theory in order to explain how advertising and mass communications exercise their power in contemporary capitalist society—fetishism and the political economy of meaning n the consumer society
  • Leiss and Kline= involves an historical examination of magazine advertising for the trends and uses of audience codes. The analyze magazine ads for their use of “person”, “product”, setting and text
  • Second important trend involves a shift of emphasis within ads away from communicating specific product information towards communicating the social and symbolic uses of products
  • Sut Jhally= analyzes the commodity in Marx’s Capital and applies the categories of exchange value, use value, surplus value, commodity fetishism
  • Wolfgang Fritz Haug’s= continues the German tradition pioneered by the Frankfurt School and Examines mass communication and advertising as key elements within capitalist dynamics and social structure
  • Haug= argues that what he calls “commodity aesthetics” shape the values, perceptions and consumer behavior of individuals in contemporary capitalist societies so as to integrate them into the lifestyles of consumer capitalism
  • A central part of Haug’s historical critique of capitalism and analysis of manipulation involves the “molding of sensuality” and how human need and instinct structures are altered under the impact of a continually changing prospect of satisfaction offered by commodities
  • The major strength of Haug’s critique of advertising is both the rigorous theoretical apparatus with which he conceptualizes advertising within the process of capitalist society and the wealth of concrete detail concerning how advertising, packaging, sales and the manufacture of fantasies and illusions actually take place
  • Baudrillard= theory of sign value provides important insights into social organization and how individuals place themselves into a social order through a differential system of commodities
  • A critical theory of advertising must analyze its economic functions as a manager of consumer demand and of market share, as well as its impact as an ideological force in social reproduction
  • Judith Williamson: inaugurated a study of advertising which combined semiological and ideological critique in close reading of individual ads
  • The costs of advertising are passed on to consumers in the form of higher product prices
  • Advertisers deduct advertising costs from their takes as business expenses
  • Barnouw= argues that the shift from live, dramatic anthology television to episodic series was influenced by advertisers desires for more up-beat, up-scale programming
  • Glolman and Montagne= examine advertising for drugs in medical journals and point to predominance of image over information and sloganeering over sound medical information which creates a dangerous situation whereby doctors may prescribe drugs for patients on the basis of suggestive imagery rather than sound medical knowledge
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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