In a recent article of The Ethicist in the NYTimes (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/magazine/laptop-prop.html?ref=theethicist&_r=0 ) a question was raised about the ethics of laptops being positioned in front of television newscasters if they are there to convey the impression of being up-to-the-minute (but not for actual use). It’s an interesting example of artifactual communication being used to influence credibility.
A second part of the question concerned the ethics of displaying the computer company logo. Is this advertising (product placement), the writer asked, ethical for a news show? In the answer to this question Chuck Klosterman, the ethicist, says that the display of a logo or the mention of a particular designer’s name does not constitute advertisement if there is no payment and if the person has no intention of advertising. This, it seems to me, is true from only one point of view, that of the sender. The sender—the wearer of the designer’s clothes or the laptop user—may not think advertising and so one can say from that point of view that there is no advertising. But, the receiver is being influenced; to the receiver, the network user’s computer logo is an advertisement and may well influence buying behavior. This, it also seems, is one of the reasons so many designers put their name in clear view. Isn't this a distinction worth making?