Marketing Ethics

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Ethics are a set of beliefs which influence how individuals, groups and society behave. Ethics need to be taken into account when marketing a business. Businesses have a social responsibility. The impact of their product and activities on society must be ethical. Ethical responsibilities refer to the moral basis for business activity and whether what the business does is ‘right'.

Advertising and promotion are important marketing tools that, when implemented, must be ethical. For example, advertisements should not be offensive or discriminatory. They must also describe the product truthfully so the consumer is not misled as to what they purchase. Sometimes it is hard to decide whether or not a particular method in marketing is ethical or not. Is the marketing campaign for the ‘Yorkie' chocolate bar, which states "It's not for girls" ethical? Is it ethical for a life insurance company to show a family distraught by the death of a loved one on a television advert, in order to frighten people into buying life insurance from them? Things like this needs to be considered when marketing a firm's product of service.

If promotion is deemed unethical then it can sometimes be banned from use. For example, recently there was debate over whether or not unhealthy food should be allowed to be promoted on children's television. Labour MP Debra Shipley said "Advertisements which promote food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar should be banned from children's television". She says that the images of burgers, biscuits, crisps and fizzy drinks can only contribute to the onset of obesity in later life.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) thought that it was unethical to broadcast the recent cartoon craze, the ‘crazy frog' before nine o'clock at night. They say that children are unfairly persuaded by the "40,000 TV broadcasts in a one month period" to purchase the ringtone. The ASA's investigation discovered that "Eighty people complained that Jamster adverts did...
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