A Philosopher's Blog

Affairs, Ads and Ethics

Posted in Ethics by Michael LaBossiere on January 16, 2009

While the quintessential Superbowl ad is about beer, the folks in charge of approving the advertising have started taking what might appear to be a moral stand. To be specific, they are refusing to accept advertising from  from Ashley Madison.

Ashley Madison is an online dating service for married people. As such, it is a service intended to facilitate adultery. On the face of it, this seems to be an immoral service. After all, it seems reasonable to regard adultery as an immoral activity and to knowingly aid another commit an immoral act is, intuitively, also an immoral action. Thus, it would seem that it is right for this service to be denied advertising time during the Superbowl. After all, selling advertising time to this service would be aiding in an immoral activity. Of course, the immorality of selling advertising to a company that helps people engage in immoral behavior would no doubt be a somewhat “small” immorality.

While it might be tempting to praise the advertising people for refusing such advertising, it seems unlikely they are primarily motivated by moral purity. If they were, the advertising they did accept would have a considerably different character.

One possible reason is that they are trying to avoid offending the growing number of female football fans. While women obviously do have affairs or are involved in affairs, women seem to be more inclined to condemn such activity. Hence, it makes sense to refuse to accept the Ashley Madison advertising so as to avoid offending an important and growing demographic.