Date of Award
Bachelor of Business Honours
Faculty of Business and Law
Dr Kate Mizerski
Advertising is a promotional tool that marketers use to build awareness of an organisations product or service, and the success of their communication efforts lie in being able to effectively and efficiently reach their target audience, therefore different appeals are used to persuade different audiences. This study was conducted to determine if there was a positive relationship between the use of fear appeals targeted to vulnerable people, and the advertisement being perceived as unethical, therefore providing a better understanding of the effects of advertising tactics that involve a disadvantaged target audience who may be prone to manipulation, and the detrimental effects they have on the recipient. To test the theory that the population perceive this as an unethical practice a sample population were given two different scenarios then shown the same advertisement using a fear appeal message targeted at seniors, the respondents then answered two identical sets of questions designed to measure the perceived ethicality of each ad. Findings revealed that advertisements with even a mild fear appeal are considered unethical when the audience are of a vulnerable nature, and that a relationship exists between the perceived ethicality of an ad and the level of discomfort the audience feels when viewing it. Marketers are always looking for the most effective ways to market their products and this study has provided empirical evidence that there is a negative reaction to the type of marketing message and choice of target market, when the audience are considered to be vulnerable. Therefore organisations that use this form of advertising may want to adjust their marketing campaigns accordingly.
Hutchinson, S. (2010). Ethical concerns over the use of fear appeals when targeting vulnerable populations. Retrieved from https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses_hons/1025