Abdullah S Mannan

Advertising inculcates every method resorted to promote something, most commonly a product or a service. Misleading refers to its deceiving nature and how it may wrongly inform the target market, which views an advertisement.

The two major forms of advertisement are commercial and informative advertisements. And the broad avenues of advertising are the print media, the social media and the television. The way an advertisement campaign is carried out decides to a great extent of what the end result of the aforementioned campaign will be. The commercial advertisements which are used by industries to launch and promote their products are not the most reliable when it comes to the accuracy of the message and the facts but then again it would be unfair to pass a sweeping statement on advertisements just by looking at the commercial sector.

If we look at the progressive years of the advertising industry, we will see the various elements that are included to add to the outreach of a campaign. Such as using celebrities which are held as idols by the general public. When David Beckham is used as a model by an underwear brand it may be misleading to the extent that the ambassador this brand is using, he may not wear said underwear regularly but just because he had them on in an advertisement, which he was getting paid for, his whole fan following might start to purchase this brand. Another common element used in advertisements is the freak gain of super powers. Many an advertisement has been aired where a small boy, an underdog would be surrounded by a bunch of bullies. He would then eat a biscuit and suddenly become so powerful that he beats up the bullies. This is misleading in the sense because it is trying to attract little boys with a false promise of strength. The boy in the advertisement is more likely to overpower the bullies with a surge of adrenaline rather than by eating that biscuit.

But there is only to a certain extent that advertisements are given a free hand. In every country there are national regulatory bodies, which monitor advertisement campaigns and make sure that no malpractice is committed in these advertisements. And not only this, by definition advertisements are not restricted to the commercial industry.

There are hundreds of advertisements that are launched everyday and are purely informative in nature. Yes, informative advertisements can be misleading too but they can usually be attested by facts and figures. The daughter organs of the United Nations such as the UNICEF, WFP, and WHO etc. they advertise regularly shedding light on illiteracy in Africa or famine in underdeveloped nations. These advertisements quote specific facts and are used to draw attention to the plight of many a people in an attempt to call on other states and donors to help.

Over the past twenty years, we have seen advertisements warning the general public of the effects and threat of polio. And the need to have polio drops administered in young children. A parallel case can be seen with family planning, as advertisements have been the most effective way by which governments have gotten their message and agenda across. Also, in some cases, advertisements by commercial industries are to the point and not misleading.

Take the example of an advertisement for a face wash in which it is explained that how said product works, how it first dries your skin, opens your pores, washes them and the removes the oil from your skin.

Thus all aspects of advertisement need to be considered before passing a sweeping statement. Yes, commercial industries trying to sell their product, might resort to miss guidance but then again there is a whole another side to the concept of advertisement. It is a side, which has led us to be more aware of our surroundings and problems that plague the status quo. Therefore advertisement campaigns are not always misleading.