Advertisements are the major component of a company’s marketing strategy, and are implemented in order to inform and persuade consumers regarding a certain product, service or institution.
The average consumer is surrounded by hundreds of advertisements each and every day. Advertisements are displayed through various means to a large audience, found through the Internet, billboards, or even when listening to the radio. Advertisers use a combination of marketing techniques to draw the attention of the consumer, however, some of the techniques used are either illegal, unethical, or both. When a company attempts to promote a dangerous product, that’s where restrictions are put in place. In recent years, the Government of Canada’s rules and regulations on tobacco advertisements have become exponentially stricter, while alcohol advertisements are still fully allowed amongst the many media platforms.
This directs us to question the difference in the two substances, and whether this political notion is actually hypocritical. Stakeholders examined in the paper are the viewers of the advertisements, plus the listeners of the advertisements, specifically the younger audience. Through a brief history of the tobacco advertising rules and regulations, this paper shall depict the ethical issues within advertising alcoholic beverages, and display evidence supporting that alcoholic beverages are no less of a danger than tobacco products, and ultimately should possess the same advertising restrictions. Evidence suggests that the majority of Canadians are actually in favor of restrictions on alcohol advertising. The hypocritical idea of allowing alcohol to be advertised, but removing all tobacco related marketing is further examined.
In 1997, the Tobacco Act was put in place to regulate the manufacturing, sale, labeling and promotion of tobacco products throughout Canada. Tobacco law is governed at the federal level by the Department of Justice, however provinces and even municipalities can enact their own respective bylaws at choice . When conflict arises between a provision of federal Act and a provision of a provincial bylaw that regulates, restricts or prohibits smoking, the more restrictive provision shall prevail. In most cases provincial statutes do not address general media advertising but rather defer from the corresponding Act. Within the Canadian Tobacco Advertising Guidelines, the word “promotion” is often referred to.
This means the representation of a product or service in a way that is likely to influence and shape the public’s attitudes and beliefs and buying behaviour. Aspects of tobacco promotion addressed in the Act include direct means such as advertisements, sponsorships and retail marketing; and also less direct means, such as the portrayal of tobacco in the movies, and in foreign media. Tobacco companies can only advertise their products in places where younger people (citizens under 18 years of age), are restricted by law, such as bars or nightclubs. The only way they can do this is by highlighting actual brand characteristics (called brand-preference advertising) or by providing factual information about the characteristics, like the availability or price of the product being advertised (which is called informational advertising). Tobacco companies are prohibited to use “lifestyle” advertisements that feature things like glamour, excitement, recreation, risks/dares, or any other connotations that may appeal to the younger population.
The advertisements cannot depict any tobacco product, or it’s packaging or brand. This also accounts for any images that could potentially evoke the product or brand. Youth-oriented activities or events are also off limits for tobacco companies. From this brief history of the Canadian Tobacco Advertising Guidelines, one can see the dominant stranglehold the government holds over the industries advertising policies, but ultimately this is for good reason, to protect our youth from harmful substances.