Advertisers Create Own Shows

Some ethical issues in business aren’t about specific instances of right- or wrong-doing, involving specific customers (or other stakeholders) on specific days. Some of the most interesting and complicated issues are about the large-scale social effects of various business practices, and whether companies have an obligation to moderate their behaviour in recognition of such effects.

One common issue of this type is the effect of commercial advertising. Advertising is becoming more pervasive, often more intrusive and (according to some) more manipulative.

In that vein, here’s an interesting story from the New York Times: Brands Produce Their Own Shows

Marketers have found a new way to try to keep viewers from tuning out: offer them TV shows, movies and online programming created by the marketers themselves, often with help from their advertising agencies.
These new offerings, the marketers hope, will be entertaining enough to endear viewers to the brands behind them.
Burger King, for example, is making a feature-length film that may star — no surprise here — the “King” character of its ad campaign. Office Max recently created a show on the ABC Family channel. Anheuser-Busch plans to start a seven-channel TV network online, called BudTV.

Interestingly, the NYT story avoided citing the obvious (perhaps too obvious? or too silly?) worries. The story managed to avoid quoting the usual media critics about how moves like this spell the end of civilization, etc. No mention of the idea that it’s bad to blur the distinction between entertainment & advertising (as if that distinction weren’t pretty much gone already.) Are we, collectively, just sort of over it? Is this a non-issue these days?

(Hopefully Andrew over at Rebel Sell will have something to say on this.)

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