Is advertising ethics an oxymoron?

In this provocatively-entitled 1991 speech, 4A’s (the American Association of Advertising Agencies) President John O'Toole discussed the public's perception of the advertising industry.

Is advertising ethics an oxymoron?

John O'ToolePresident, 4A's

I know there are many who would answer the question posed in the title of this talk affirmatively. And enthusiastically so.

I know, too, that Margaret Meade said, in 1975, “Most advertising people don't believe in the products they advertise or the words they are writing about their clients' products.”

Furthermore, I am aware that the humorist Kin Hubbard once said, “It used to be that a fellow went on the police force when all else failed, but today he goes into the advertising game.” And that Fred Allen defined advertising...

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