Identity in Marketing Communications: An Ethics of Visual Representation
MARKETING COMMUNICATION: NEW APPROACHES, TECHNOLOGIES, AND STYLES, Allan J. Kimmel, ed., pp. 256-277, Oxford University Press, 2005
44 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2007
In this chapter, we investigate marketing communication's role in the taken-for-granted political and ethical practices of envisioning others (Heywood & Sandywell, 1999, p. x). Ethically motivated criticisms of marketing communications are often simplistically understood as generalized critiques of capitalism and related excessive consumption (e.g., Crane & Matten, 2004; Thompson, 2004). Just as personnel policies have had to accommodate changing norms about hiring and promotion when it comes to women and minorities, marketing managers must be aware of representational practices that may cause harm. Our analysis concerns not only the ethical implications, or consequences, of representational conventions - customary ways of depicting products, people and identities - within marketing communications, but emphasizes the ethical context from which such representational conventions emerge. Whereas discussions of marketing communication ethics often focus on appropriate use of images, most lack a conceptual framework for recognizing and understanding ethical issues in visual representation. We introduce an ethics of visual representation that provides such criteria and sheds light on the appropriateness dimension of marketing communications. Evaluations of ad appropriateness must be informed by an awareness of the ethical relationship between marketing representations and identity. We conclude by discussing the implications arising from an ethics of visual representation as a vital issue for marketing communication practice and research.
Keywords: Advertising, Ethics, International Marketing, Identity, Visual Communication
JEL Classification: M31, M37, Z1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation