7 Sep 2022


Analysis of Ethical Issues in Marketing

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Academic level: College

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Ethics by definition are the moral principles that govern human behavior. They allow individuals to identify what actions are right and which ones are wrong. In an organization, these principles are important because they help in ensuring that all actions and decisions made are right choices which seek to protect the environment, animal, and human life ( Tadajewski, 2016) . That, therefore, requires that leaders in an organization take necessary steps that can promote equality and involvement of all employees during decision making so that any decision made affecting the productivity of an organization is well analyzed, to ensure that no wrong decision is made that can harm human life. Organizations have several distinct departments like the human resource and the marketing department, which are critical for the development and growth of the company. Leaders of such departments must, therefore, have the capability to apply leadership skills adequately and ensure that all the workers under their administration respect and obey the set rules, which distinguish between right and wrong. Marketing, for instance, is an essential department in a corporation because it determines the growth and development of the company. The marketing team of a company can either promote an increase in the number of clients or cause its decline that can lead to a collapse of the business (Schlegelmilch, 2016). The team has a responsibility of ensuring that all potential customers across the world get to understand the benefits of using their products and not from their competitors. Due to the competition, the marketing team in some circumstance may find itself using unethical practices in the name of attracting and retaining their clients. For example, a company can cheat its customers that their products are scientifically proven while indeed they are not scientifically proven. With that regard, human behavior can be determined by three ethical theories (Deontology, Consequentialism, and Virtue) ( Chakrabarty & Bass, 2015) . In the discussion, we shall analyze the three ideas and understand how they can be linked to unethical and ethical marketing. First, we shall have to discuss some unethical marketing cases put across. 

Calvin Klein’s sexting ads that were intended to advertise its products is unethical. According to what critiques talked about the ad, it is notable that it does target the young generation with its sexual appeal. Marketing strategy employed by the company was to increase the stalled selling of its products. However, the use of such “exposing” images as a way to market their products could not be the best method to improve its sales. Most of the customers could not be convinced either by the ad to buy any of the products being sold ( Leon & Ken, 2016)

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Another case is that Coke Company, which uses the label “diet” on their products, is very unethical since people fall for it thinking it has useful nutrients in it. Therefore, people believe in the claim that the company sells products that are free of aspartames, cyclamates, and saccharin, all believed to be inducers of cancer ( Leon & Ken, 2016) . The marketing department convinces people that coke diet is a healthy product, making many people, and most especially, women to buy it. That dishonesty is, therefore, unethical, and it results in human suffering, as many people risk chances of developing cancer conditions due to the artificial sweeteners used, which they are not aware. 

Additionally, the Volkswagen Company lied to its customers that the vehicles were suitable and conformed to the environmental standards, which actually was a lie ( Boodoo, 2016) . The company marketing team went ahead to give false information regarding their products, and this was so as to make more sales as opposed to their competitors. The company through their unethical marketing, they managed to sell and lease more than 600,000 diesel cars ( Boodoo, 2016) . That was wrong and immoral given that the organization was acutely aware of the severe consequences that will when poisonous gasses are released into the environment. They cheated their clients that their products were environmentally friendly while indeed they were not environmental friendly. They, in fact, violated the Clean Air Act that seeks the provision of environmental protection ( Boodoo, 2016)

MacDonald’s marketing deceptive toys faced challenges after its deceptive happy meal toys that targeted children. MacDonald’s was sued for the unethical marketing of children’s toys. A boy posing with a happy meal display is a deceptive advert that MacDonald has used. Children looking at the display get so convinced that the meal seen on the advert is the best. Therefore, they tend to fall for it and use all means to get it. 

In another case of Pakistani pharmaceutical companies, it was noted that they have been performing under unethical practices while marketing their products. Although the company is regulated by, legal measures to produce certain products inflation and the highly rising population force it to seek more money at the expense of ethical standards. Due to the trend of most firms in the country, adopting unethical advertising ways the pharmaceuticals industry has been forced to join in and market their products in the same way so that they could earn more money. The strategy adopted is, therefore, unethical since it is against the standards required for the provision of pharmaceutical products. 

Nestle one of the largest food companies in the world used unethical marketing when it used child labor in their promotion. The company displayed the nature of the young children in their adverts something that could not please people. Unfortunately, the advertisement turned away people based on what they had seen on the company’s advertisement. The company took their advertisement to the limits when they marketed their baby formula products to the mother’s milk. The issue raised criticism and hatred from the people who could not take it lightly that the company meant that their baby products were equal to the mother’s milk ( Leon & Ken, 2016)

Nikes unethical marketing tactics fed on children so that they could believe Nikes products can make them strong and happy ( Chakrabarty & Bass, 2015) . In its advert which aimed at the young children by claiming that its products could fulfill their numerous desires such as comfort, strength, and even becoming faster! Most Children believed in Nike advertisement and bought their products in large numbers only to be disappointed later. They could not attain what the advert claimed the products did. Most surprising is that the marketing strategy by Nike could even “brainwash” children to believe that they could play like the most famous player such as Ronaldinho. It is such unethical that Nike's marketing tool targeted young children who could believe what is said about their products, which are even not proved. 


In conclusion, we have seen that marketing is an essential department in an organization, which holds the key to organizational growth and development. However, cases of dishonesty go against the ethical standards, which require that a customer receives correct and truthful information concerning a product so as to make personal and voluntary decisions to either buy it or not. All the three theories are all aimed at ensuring that human behaviors and decisions remain healthy so that the cases of environmental pollution, human and animal suffering reduces. Therefore, in an organization, ethical marketing should be the focus to ensure that customers buy goods that satisfy their needs by accessing truthful information concerning the products and services offered by that particular corporation. 


Boodoo, M. U. (2016). Volkswagen affair: global coordination is needed to enforce ethical corporate behaviour. LSE Business Review

Chakrabarty, S., & Bass, A. E. (2015). Comparing virtue, consequentialist, and deontological ethics-based corporate social responsibility: Mitigating microfinance risk in institutional voids. Journal of Business Ethics , 126 (3), 487-512. 

Leon, K. S., & Ken, I. (2016). Food Fraud and the Partnership for a ‘Healthier’America: A Case Study in State-Corporate Crime. Critical Criminology , 1-18. 

Schlegelmilch, B. B. (2016). Global Marketing Ethics and CSR. In Global Marketing Strategy (pp. 195-220). Springer International Publishing. 

Tadajewski, M. (2016). Relevance, responsibility, critical performativity, testimony and positive marketing: contributing to marketing theory, thought and practice. Journal of Marketing Management , 1-24. 

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