In an earlier post, I went after sexual stuff in advertising. It's time to move on to food. The following argument is valid:
- It is wrong to intentionally make someone feel inappropriate hunger. (Premise)
- Some food advertising intentionally makes people feel inappropriate hunger. (Premise)
- Some food advertising is wrong. (By (1) and (2))
I suppose few people dispute (3). The likely health consequences of some food advertising are sufficient to establish (3). But what's interesting is that this argument provides another reason, a non-consequentialistic one, to object to the advertising.
There are analogies to other kinds of induction of desire in advertising. But not all induction of desire is problematic. Induction of an appropriate desire is in itself unproblematic. Thus charity advertising that induces a desire to help the needy is not problematic (assuming there isn't something else wrong there), since a desire to help the needy is appropriate.
Let me end with a question: Suppose that advertisers limited themselves to morally licit advertising: no induction of inappropriate emotions, no false statements (and that includes not making statements about your product being better than the competitor unless you believe it on good grounds), etc. How well would advertising work then?