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Analysis Of The Advertisements Concerced With Pro-Choice And Pro-Life

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For this paper, I want to specifically look at the two commercials “Pro-Life, ” by CatholicVote. org (2009) and “Bad Date, ” by AshleyMadison. com (2009). Both ads are mired in decades-long debates. Are people pro-choice or pro-life? Are people justified when cheating on their spouses? Was it fair of television networks to nix these commercials from the super bowl?

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The first advertisement I chose to focus on is “Pro-Life. ” This commercial starts out as an image of a fetus being viewed as an ultrasound. The commentary basically states that this child will grow up fatherless and its mother will struggle to raise it. Then it goes to a picture of Barak Obama, insinuating that the fetus was him. The last words said are “imagine the possibilities. ” The pro-life and pro-choice debate has been a long-standing sore spot from the extremely religious to the extremely atheist. Should the television network have cut this ad from the Superbowl commercial line-up? According to the rights theory of ethics, the television networks should have the right to cut this ad. Rights theory states that one must respect the rights of others.

In the United States it is a Right to have expression of free speech. The network has exercised that right by stating the ad cannot be on the Super Bowl line up for commercials. Since there are many people who advocate pro-choice they also have the right to speak against this ad. Analyzing this advertisement through utilitarianism creates a different story. Utilitarianists believe that there must be the greatest good for the greatest number of people. In 2015, a poll was distributed by Gallup News asked Americans whether they were pro-choice or pro-life. Pro-choice ranked at 50%, Pro-life at 44%, and the rest were undecided. According to this poll, the ad would not be creating the greatest good for the greatest number because most Americans are Pro-choice, not Pro-life. In accordance with the utilitarian view the television networks absolutely had the right to pull the ad. However, it is worth noting that in previous years the debate was almost half and half, which brings up the 49%, 51% issue that is often associated with Utilitarianism. In this case even though there may be many disappointed people on one side, whomever the poll favors in that specific year should have the honor of choosing whether the ad is pulled or not. Next is the ethical theory of justice. Justice theory states that each person receives what is due unto them. Basically, each action treats everyone in the same way. According to this theory I believe that the pro-life ad was rightfully cut from the Super Bowl. On the CBS networks advertising regulations and rules web page there are clear-cut rules in place for advertisements. These rules do not change based on who makes the ads or what the ad contains, the rules remain consistent. According to the website, CBS has the right to pull any advertisement that promotes political agendas and ads that contain religion and spirituality advice-related content.

The CBS site also states: “At any time and for any reason in its sole discretion, CBS Local reserves the right to (a) refuse any advertising/advertisers; (b) make exceptions to these guidelines on a case-by-case basis; (c) takedown ads it deems inappropriate; and (d) revise these guidelines by posting updates on this page. Final and ongoing approval of all creative material is at the sole discretion of CBS Local. ” This further solidifies my statement that it was okay to pull these ads based on the Ethical theory of Justice. The next advertisement I chose to focus on was “Bad Date. ” Bad date is an ad that starts out with a man and a woman dining at a restaurant. The man in this scenario is utterly terrible as he keeps ignoring his date for his phone and at one point even gives an all too obvious stare down towards an attractive waitress.

The ethical theory of justice pertaining to this advertisement holds the same as the first advertisement. The guidelines are posted on the CBS website and are enforced regardless of who is presenting the advertisement. This advertisement could have been denied because of several guideline infractions. The first of which is facilitating or promoting hate speech. Hate speech can be more than speech. It can be insinuated without words. In this instance, the hate was directed at women. The way the man treats both women in the advertisement is disturbing and can be construed as sexual harassment.

The next infraction came when the ad promoted (indirectly) adult content. AshleyMadison is a website dedicated to married adults seeking extramarital affairs. That in itself is what I would consider indirect adult content. The last infraction included sex advice and related content. As stated, AshelyMadison is a website dedicated to the unethical action of adultery. Its whole business concept is to get spouses to cheat on each other in an easier fashion. Looking thru the scope of utilitarianism, one could say that this ad does not make most people happy. In other words, it does not create the most good for the greatest number. In a poll, Americans were asked if they thought it was moral for spouses to cheat on each other. The results? 91% of Americans think cheating is morally wrong. This is an overwhelming majority of people who believe that the greatest good would be to not cheat on their spouse which is what AshelyMadison is exclusively promoting. Under the utilitarian view of ethics, the television networks had good authority to deny this ad from playing. Under the rights theory of ethics, if a situation negatively affects someone’s moral rights it is considered bad. Cheating generally doesn’t make people happy, therefore, cheating on a spouse affects the moral right of a person to be happy. Those who have been cheated on also have the authority to express their right to free speech. If people had spoken out against the ad then the ad did not respect the rights of those people. When a network makes its guidelines regarding advertisements not only do they have to think about the ethics involved, they have to think about all the stakeholders the advertisements could affect.

The main stakeholder that the advertisements I chose effect our children. Children are especially vulnerable to television advertisements. Children who watch the pro-life advertisement could grow up and think that pro-life is the only option they have because the advertisement gave them a contorted view of societal norms.

15 July 2020

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