Advertising is a potent tool for stimulating sales, and companies usually pay a considerable attention to how their products are displayed in the media. Manufacturers frequently refer to deceptive advertising practices to make their goods look extraordinary and unique. The Federal Trade Commission considers deceptive advertising illegal and unethical. Consumers frequently sue companies if promoted products do not possess mentioned qualities and especially if their usage has brought any damage to the consumer’s health. Therefore, deceptive advertising is illegal and prohibited under the US law. Nevertheless, there is unethical advertising that can be neither deceptive nor illegal. If any ethical issues are violated, consumers find it difficult to held companies accountable for any manifestation that cannot be punished by law.
Unethical advertising is usually a subject of self-regulation. Consumers expect ads to comply at least with the universal morality code and, of course, with more specific ethical norms inherent to their community. While consumers may express their discontent with unethical advertising, few things can be done to eradicate it. If companies benefit from messages that seem offensive to some groups, businesses are unlikely to change their tactics. The law, on the other hand, cannot fully address ethical issues because they can be specific and legislative statements may sound vague and overgeneralized.
Advertising of drugs and other potentially harmful goods can be unethical. Promotion of medicine, tobacco, and alcohol is certainly regulated, but some social groups still find it dangerous and inappropriate. Besides, advertising tactics favored by companies are manipulative but legal. Unethical advertising shall be targeted by the Federal Trade Commission, but it is still unclear how to address all ethical issues in a legal document.