Ethics of Product Placement: a Threat to Ethic or a Chance for Marketing?

Topics: Ethics, Marketing, Business ethics Pages: 9 (3039 words) Published: March 30, 2011
Ethics of product placement: A threat to ethic or a chance for marketing?

Marketing communication, which plays an important role in selling products, is undoubtedly shaping audience attitude within its numerous tools. Marketing communication is divided into separate elements: promotion sponsorship, public relations and advertising .All of these could be carriers of product placement. However, by using some of these elements to send message to audience, some ethic issues may occur. In this report, based on the definition of product placement , the theories of business ethic will be used to give the discussion of the ethic issues .There are four arguable points in the marketing communication--- the products’ nature, whether the advertisements are telling the truth , the audience of targeting and the way of expressing the message to audience. During the discussion of these four processes, recent examples will be used to illustrate the ethic issues.

The definition and the recent development of product placement As the result of increasing commercial needs, a diversity of methods are used in nowadays marketing communication. In the past, audience might clearly know that what has happened when they received the message. Directly promotion commercial could be seen in these traditional media: newspapers, magazines, on TV or radio (Shimp T A,2010) .Sometimes we also notice other new media such as website pop-up advertisements .Gradually a new type of “hidden” promotion is rising .In that type of promotion we accept the message without realizing it is a commercial. In the latest film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,when the three wizards “landed” on London city center, Samsung billboards and a Barclays' logo was suddenly appeared in audience’s field of vision for 2 to 3 seconds----that is so called “product placement” Product placement is a communication tool that put the commercial insertions into culture vehicles. (Lehu J M, 2007). Any instrument which could express the product benefit could be the vehicle of product placement. The early development of product development was appeared in radio and TV program with only sponsor. The introduction of the magazine concept of product placement in the 1950s (Galician M L,2004). During the recent decades, rising use of product placement are concerned by both business companies and the society ethic researchers.

Business Ethics theories
Through the business, results and profits are the most significant things. When when it comes to ethic there are two types of business ethics: consequentialist ethics and non-consequentialist ethics .The consequentialist ethics could be divided into two parts :egoism and utilitarianism. Non-consequentialist ethics, which focus on the activities during the business ,contain the duty-based theories ,deontological theories and theories of rights and justice. ( Crane, A and Matten, D. ,2007) . Based on these theories , several ethic issues of product placement are needed to be discussed

Ethical issues to be considered in product placement
From the definition of the business ethics ,it could be referred to the result of human value’s feature. To judge whether the business is ethical or not, the first step is predicting the result of the real business activity then suppose how it should be. After that Comparing with the practice in reality.( Donaldson T, Werhane P H, 2002). When it comes to the product placement in marketing communication, the evaluation needs to focus on four parts: what products are being selling? Whether the companies are telling the truth? Who are the message sending to and how these companies express the message to audience . Rising ethic issues are derived from these parts.

Products nature
In Consequential ethics, it is ethical to sell anything by product placement marketing. Because the utilitarianism of product maker is just pursue the maximum profits. In order to achieve this goal , any...

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