But is it Ethical?


Hello beautiful blog browsers!

Today we touch on a very important topic, ethics! As marketers, we often get a bad rap for unethical marketing practices. Therefore, it is up to us to prove to ourselves, our industry, society, and consumers, that we CAN market ethically!

My advice for maintaining industry standard ethics is to apply the American Marketing Association’s Code of Ethics in all that you do. The AMA’s Code of Ethics includes doing no harm, fostering trust in the marketing system, and embracing ethical values (AMA, n.d.).

Per the AMA, doing no harm means “consciously avoiding harmful actions or omissions by embodying high ethical standards and adhering to all applicable laws and regulations in the choices we make” (AMA, n.d., para 2). One can foster trust in the marketing system by avoiding deception, dealing in good faith, and working toward a fair and effective exchange system. Finally, the ethical values set forth by the AMA include honesty, responsibility, fairness, respect, transparency, and citizenship. Embracing these values can help build consumer relationships and encourage consumer confidence in the decency of the marketing industry (AMA, n.d.).

To embrace these ethical values, I recommend that you be honest in all your interactions with not only, consumers, but also fellow employees and company shareholders. Additionally, you should accept responsibility, and the associated consequences, for all your marketing decisions. I recommend you balance profit decisions with consumer interests. You should respect the dignity of all those you interact with including shareholders, management, fellow employees, consumers, and the community. Further, you should be transparent in all your marketing operations. Finally, you can embrace citizenship by implementing actions conducive to legal, social, humanitarian, and economic responsibility (AMA, n.d.).

These ethical best practices should be implemented into every marketing decision you make, especially when you are crafting an IMC campaign. Here are a few examples of how you can integrate these ethical best practices into a campaign.

First, make sure the product you are marketing does what the company is claiming, and you should be ready to stand behind the product if it fails to meet these claims. Next, you should avoid any coercion and make special commitments to any disadvantaged market segments that may be affected by the campaign. Environmental stewardship and customer satisfaction should also be considered in IMC campaigns. Campaigns should be void of any manipulation or deception including price gouging, false claims, or bait-and-switch tactics, and represent the product in a clear and honest way. You should show respect to all those you connect with during the campaign. This includes acknowledging efforts from fellow employees, avoiding customer stereotypes in advertising, listening to the needs of the consumer, and treating everyone how they would like to be treated. Additionally, throughout the campaign, you should strive for open and honest communication with fellow employees, shareholders, and customers. Finally, you should strive for the betterment of the environment, community, and the marketing industry as a whole in all campaign efforts (AMA, n.d.).

To ensure that ethics are maintained throughout the campaign, I recommend you implement an ethics program. This would include your organization’s own code of ethics, ethics training, and an ethics consulting system. This would ensure everyone is on the same page and stays on the same ethical path. Failure to maintain ethical practices can result in many negative consequences (Clow & Baack, 2017).

These consequences can include a loss of customers (and their loyalty), negative public perception, negative publicity, negatively impacting relationships (with consumers, the public, shareholders, and suppliers), and even litigation in the court of law. For example, the AMA states that marketers should stand behind the products they are marketing and the claims about those products. Failure to substantiate claims in advertisements could actually result in legal action, lawsuits, settlements, and civil penalties pursued by the FTC. In extreme cases, corrective advertising may be required if the court felt the deceptive advertising required counteraction (AMA, n.d. ; Clow & Baack, 2017).

The AMA stresses the importance of maintaining honest, respectful, and transparent communications with all stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, suppliers, and the public. Failure to do so could hinder or destroy the relationships built with these stakeholders. For example, if it got out that your company was implementing deceptive marketing tactics, the press would first spread negative publicity, leading to increased negative public perception and a decrease in sales. Your company would lose potential customers and many loyal customers. This would ultimately result in a loss of profits, hurting the company’s bottom line and the shareholders. This would also impact any suppliers the company was working with. As we can see, the consequences of integrating unethical practices can be immense (AMA, n.d.).

As marketers, it is our responsibility to maintain ethical values and standards in all we do in hopes of building relationships with customers and the community and boosting the public’s confidence in the industry. We should implement common sense in all our marketing efforts and treat others how we would like to be treated. Finally, we should seek to spread creativity and have fun!

What ethical value do you connect with most? Why?

Thanks for popping in browsers!

Have a magical day!




American Marketing Association. (n.d.). Statement of ethics. Retrieved from https://www.ama.org/AboutAMA/Pages/Statement-of-Ethics.aspx

Clow, K. E. & Baack, D. (2017). Integrated advertising, promotion, and marketing communications. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Image sourced from http://micheleandco.com/blog/returntoethics/

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