Global Business Research Congress (GBRC), İstanbul, Turkey, 26 - 27 May 2016, vol.2, pp.692-702 identifier

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume: 2
  • Doi Number: 10.17261/pressacademia.2016118691
  • City: İstanbul
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.692-702
  • Kocaeli University Affiliated: Yes


Advertising must be accurate, reliable, honest, and in line with the cultural and ethical norms of the society. Since consumers become more sensitive to ethical principles, organizations are urged to be more attentive to ethical issues in advertising. Sex appeals, deceptive advertising, advertising to children and discrimination in advertising are the major issues in the advertising ethics literature. This study examines the ethical perceptions about using sex appeals in advertising. Particularly, the study aims to determine whether using male and female bodies as sexual objects in advertisements is perceived to be ethical or not. Further, the study probes the effect of consumers' ethical philosophies (i.e. idealism, relativism) on their ethical judgments about the ads. A field study is conducted to test a number of hypotheses to resolve the research question. In the first phase of the field research, advertising experts are asked to evaluate 12 selected ads in terms of their ethical content. Based on their evaluations, 3 ethically questionable ads (one comprised of male body as a sexual object, one comprised of female body as a sexual object, and one comprised of both male and female bodies as sexual objects) are chosen to be used in the next stage. In the second stage, the ethically questionable ads are viewed by a convenient sample of consumers and their ethical judgments about the ads are measured. Data analyses revealed that, male and female respondents' ethical perceptions about the ads (where male bodies are used as a sexual object) significantly vary. Further, relativism is found to exert a significantly negative effect on ethical judgments, while idealism has no significant effect. Theoretical and managerial implications of the findings are discussed.