Marketing Ethics

Essay by Anonymous UserA-, October 1995

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The question of whether or not marketing is completely unethical is the question most critics of marketing seem to be focusing their attention on. Ethics provide the basis for deciding whether a particular action is morally good or morally bad (Britt 553). But, each individual develops different opinions, moral standards, and values. So, marketers will deal with similar issues differently because there is no 'correct' way to handle any given issue. Marketers face various types of ethical issues in their everyday marketing activities. Such marketing activities that require marketing managers to utilize their moral values ethically are advertising, packaging and labeling, and global marketing.

'Advertising is the most criticized of all micro-marketing activities (McCarthy 643).' What is considered as unfair or deceptive advertising is very difficult to pinpoint, because times have changed and continue to change on a day to day basis. What one person may consider unfair or deceptive may not be unfair or deceptive to another person.

There are no clear cut guidelines for marketing manager's to go by, so they must utilize their own judgement based on their own moral standards. But, in the United States their is an administrative agency that has the power to control unfair or deceptive business practices. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was created in 1914 to prevent 'unfair methods of competition in commerce (commercial trade) and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce (Miller 590)'. The FTC issues guidelines that define unfair practices and in some instances the FTC will investigate widespread complaints to seek settlement of the complaint. The FTC has also set forth specific rules to govern certain advertising practices such as bait-and-switch advertising. Bait-and-switch advertising occurs when a seller advertises a product at a very low price to lure in consumers, but when customers come in...