The largest money-making industry in the United States today is advertising. During events such as the Super Bowl, companies pay large sums of money in return for thirty seconds of air time. Advertising is the act of promoting a product by informing the public of the products worth. Whether it be television, radio, or newspapers, companies must find a distinct name and phrase that one can associate with their product; nonetheless, people often take offense to these names and phrases. People claim that often times these product names promote racial stereotypes and racial disunity.
While some people may take offense to the name of the product as well as the way companies go about selling their product, the First Amendment undermines these offenses by allowing all Americans to have the right to freedom of expression. Companies do not, however, have the right to choose any name or phrase for their product. Various government agencies set strict limits on what can and what cann! ot be done by the advertising industries. By realizing that advertising is the practice of ones First Amendment right, as well as knowing the rules for advertising, one can conclude that advertising does not promote racial disunity or racism.
The purpose of the First Amendment is to allow Americans the freedom to express how they feel; therefore, advertising is simply a practice of this right. If groups do not like the product, then it is their right to not purchase it; however, they do not have the right to ban these products to the rest of the world. In the article Crazy Horse Beer Brews a Legal Storm, by Michael Gartner, one reads of Indians who take offense to Crazy Horse beer. These groups of Indians advocate the removal of the beer due to it exploiting the name of their famous Indian leader Crazy Horse.
Robert Sack, a lawyer for the First Amendment, states it best by saying, Nothing could be more dangerous in a democracy than banning things simply because people find them offensive or unlikeable. 1 The First Amendment does not state that everyone must be satisfied in order to have this freedom of expression. The First Amendments purpose, as Sack points out, is to give everyone the right to an opinion! no matter what others think. If an advertisement does not maliciously attack a race or group in society, then that advertisement is simply practicing its First Amendment right.
Therefore, one cannot assume that advertisements promote racism. While advertising is a practice of the First Amendment, government has set various rules that limit both what and how one can advertise; as a result, malicious acts of racism and racial disunity cease to exist. Government agencies have developed copyrights and patents to ensure the protection of peoples rights and ideals. If one does not wish to have the name of something or someone very dear to him exploited, than that individual has the right to have their product or name copyrighted or patented.
A copyright is the right to exclusive publication or sale of a work. A patent is a grant made by the government to give the inventors of a product the sole right to make, use, and sell their invention. Some states have also developed rules stating that one cannot exploit the dead. Georgia Supreme Court, for example, has ruled that one cannot exploit the name Martin Luther King, Jr. on a product. Tennessee has ruled that one cannot draw cash on the name Elvis Presley. 2 These ar! just a few of the rules set out by government agencies that advertising agencies must follow. These governmental agencies go on to set various strict rules to ensure that products and advertisements do not promote racism or racial disunity as well. Agencies ban racist words such as those associated with blacks and Chinese; hence, racial tensions through advertisements become extinct. By agencies keeping a close watch over advertisement, while not interfering with ones First Amendment rights, racism in advertisement remains low.
As America progresses, the need for advertisement progresses as well. Companies must compete with one another in order to gain success. In recent advertisements, companies have begun to make negative remarks about its rival company. Whether it be Coke and Pepsi or Ford and Chevrolet, these rivalries cause the commercials and other forms of advertisements to be more entertaining to the audience. Companies can make these remarks due to the First Amendment guaranteeing everyone the freedom of expression.
While these rights to freedom of expression play a major role in advertising, advertisements will never reach the point by which racial tensions start to flare. When racial tensions arise, one is abusing his First Amendments rights. Government agencies realize this; thus, these agencies have set guidelines that companies must follow. By following these guideline set out by the agencies, one can see that advertising does not promote racism nor does it promote racial disunity, yet it promotes the practice of Americas First Amendment rights.