November 6, 2012
Ethics are an important aspect of marketing and truth in advertising. Advertising that is not based on ethical decisions leaves the consumer at a disadvantage and gives the seller the upper hand with sellers often only paying attention to profits. The need for ethical controls and decisions in the world of marketing is growing as the desire to market products continues to grow. Ethical decisions are important for a various of reasons but the most important is to protect the rights of the consumer. Consumers need to be protected from false advertising other questionable marketing tactics. Advertisements are information provided by a seller or manufacturer. These advertisements can be in the form of ads on the television, radio, internet, newspapers, and magazines. It can also come in the form of information from a sales person as they attempt to sell a consumer a product. Advertisements generally are truthful in nature. However they can be false and misleading. It is these false or misleading ads that cause ethical questions to be raised in regards to marketing. False advertisement is untrue or misleading information that is presented by a seller in order to entice the consumer to buy their product. Each state has its own set of consumer protection laws that protect consumers against unfair competition and deceptive advertising practices. These laws apply to print, radio, or television ads that are seen in that state. Some common state laws include protection against various types of false advertising. One area that is not highly regulated in regards to truth in advertising is the Internet. Because the Internet spans all boundaries the local advertising laws are difficult to apply to ads that are posed or seen online. There are several types of false advertising practices that are commonly used. One of these is known as the bait and switch technique. The bait and switch occurs when a company advertises a product but has every intention of selling you a product that is different than the one advertised. The bait tactic is an enticing ad that makes the product seem appealing and lures the consumer into the store. Once the consumer is on site, the seller makes every attempt to upsell a different more expensive product by discrediting the quality or value of the original product. Another method of false advertisement involves the amount of product that is kept in stock by a store. Stores are required to have enough of an advertised item in stock to meet a reasonable customer demand unless the ad states that quantities are limited. This keeps stores from using a small quantity of a good to lure customers into the store. Store limits are another tactic that can be used by sellers to misrepresent advertisements. Store limits are only valid if the limit is clearly defined in the ad. It is unethical and unlawful to impose a non-advertised limit once the consumer is in the store. Pictures are a common addition to advertisements. Companies are often known to embellish pictures that are used in advertising. Consumer law states that an advertisement must provide a reasonable representation of the product if a picture is used in the advertisement. Advertisements must be truthful in other areas as well. If a company is selling an item that is refurbished it cannot be sold as a new item. Companies cannot arbitrarily advertise an item as being on sale. Any item that is listed as being on sale must have been sold at a higher price at some time during the previous three months. Another area that can be tempting to advertising departments is related to environmentally friendly products. Because of the environmental movement that is underway many products are marked as environmentally friendly, green, or biodegradable. Ethically and in some areas legally, companies are required to provide environmental information...