Ethics in cause-related marketing


*cross-posted from my other blog, adappealing.tumblr.com

You’ve seen this, haven’t you?

That’s Abortion, the website for Life Always, says it uses “advertising, research and confrontational truth to gain awareness, inform and educate individuals to choose life, always!”

Confrontational, indeed. The public discourse surrounding this ad has been as well.

Some activists group, including Life Always, do allege that abortion is a genocidal practice perpetuated against African-Americans. This ad reflects that sensibility.

At Sociological Images, Lisa Wade, Ph.D points out that abortion is often framed as feminist, gendered issue, rather than one influenced by class and race.

Pointing out that the head of Life Always is “black, so it isn’t racist” is a reductio ad absurdum akin to “Some of my best friends are Jewish” as an excuse to legitimize anti-Semitic remarks a la Gentlemen’s Agreement.

Pointing out that the leadership of Life Always are clergymen is telling. How appropriate is it for clergy to make racially inflammatory statements intended to sow discord? This is far from Dr. King’s civil rights activism, which united concerned Americans for the cause.

It is disingenuous for religious leaders to present this complex issue as a purely sociological one in their advertising. The website does explain the religious connection and the bait-and-switch is not on the level of “crisis pregnancy centers,” but does merit concern.

The Life Always website does not make many concessions to socioeconomic factors, saying the Planned Parenthood centers are usually in minority neighborhoods and framing this as antagonistic. Is it also a function of zoning, real estate, and serving communities with less access to other medical services?

How influenced are these Guttmacher Institute statistics by socioeconomic factors, including access to contraceptives, family planning counseling, insurance, and ability to to care for and support a child?

A complex issue needs more context than a headline.

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