Government regulation on the Advertising industry.

Although advertising delivers sufficient value to both consumers, marketers and ad firms, there are many chances of it being misused. Only self-awareness, from one’s own being, about the social responsibility of advertising will help to elude the abuse of advertising. Concepts of decency and morality maybe unique to each culture, still, there are a ‘universal code’ of such ethics, which is common to all.

That there should be government intervention, there is no doubt regarding that. But the awareness should come from the consumers’ side. The legislation should only be meant to complement such an awareness. It is the consumer who should realize his own right as a decisive force of the market and respond as such whenever his status is questioned. The consumer has to take an initiative to ensure that the ad agency’s creativity does not defy his own inner convictions.

No creativity is above the sacred value for human lives. A few days back (October 6th 2001), I happened to come across an advertisement of a new ‘air conditioner that purifies the air that you breathe’. The advertisement compared the the safety and protection of mother’s womb free from germs and bacteria to the Air conditioner’s capacity to keep the room clean with a constant supply of fresh air.

A Mother's womb is not for sale
Caption : once, you lived in a completely protected environment. Welcome back

A Mother’s womb, that is cherished and revered since the creation of man as the greatest guardian of life, is being compared here to just ‘a model’ of an air conditioner! A model that would fail to maintain its ‘uniqueness’ in the market for not more than a few months. The womb is the very symbol of human life on earth.

The embryo’s ‘lifestyle’ inside it cannot be enjoyed anywhere on earth- not even the most exotic holiday destinations. And the Most Merciful Creator made the right choice in entrusting this to the Women for only she can bear this responsibility. God chose HER as the candidate for safeguarding the life even before it emerges.

How lamentable to know that the ad appeared in Middle East- based daily where centuries ago the Holy Prophet, the greatest humanist of all times, had declared: ‘Paradise lies under the feet of your mothers’. And the irony is that the ad was targeted at the Asians, (as it appeared in the Asia page) who has a heritage of great reverence for Mother, since time immemorial.

This ad is an insult on the entire humanity! Not just for the status of mother and child! Not just for Asia!

And I am surprised that since the ad appeared, no single reader has bothered to register his complaint, at least in the form of an editorial letter, against this degrading advertisement. And hence I am forced to conclude the poor value system of today’s consumers. If the consumer is not bothered, then why should the client be? Why the ad agency should? And why the publisher should?

In many advertisements appearing in Asian countries, the characters are seen as imitating the western culture. One culture apes another culture only when it realizes that it is inferior to others’.

The main cause for such exploitation is due to the lack of awareness about one’s own self. The condition is such that we are laughing at own selves without we knowing it. We are cherishing a false reverence for the this ‘gospel of consumerism’.

The greatest wonders lie within us. It only takes some effort to realize it.

As the ‘Poet of East’ said,

Destroy not the worth of your ego by imitation
Protect your ego zealously, for this pearl is unique.

This essay is based on a speech given at Sharjah College on 9th Oct 2001 by the author himself on the need for government regulation in advertising industry.