The question of whether or not marketing is completely unethical is thequestion most critics of marketing seem to be focusing their attention on.Ethics provide the basis for deciding whether a particular action is morallygood or morally bad (Britt 553). But, each individual develops differentopinions, moral standards, and values. So, marketers will deal with similarissues differently because there is no “correct” way to handle any given issue.Marketers face various types of ethical issues in their everyday marketingactivities.
Such marketing activities that require marketing managers toutilize 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 verydifficult to pinpoint, because times have changed and continue to change on aday to day basis. What one person may consider unfair or deceptive may not beunfair or deceptive to another person. There are no clear cut guidelines formarketing manager’s to go by, so they must utilize their own judgement based ontheir own moral standards. But, in the United States their is an administrativeagency that has the power to control unfair or deceptive business practices.The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was created in 1914 to prevent “unfairmethods of competition in commerce (commercial trade) and unfair or deceptiveacts or practices in commerce (Miller 590)”. The FTC issues guidelines thatdefine unfair practices and in some instances the FTC will investigatewidespread complaints to seek settlement of the complaint.
The FTC has also setforth specific rules to govern certain advertising practices such as bait-and-switch advertising. Bait-and-switch advertising occurs when a selleradvertises a product at a very low price to lure in consumers, but whencustomers come in to purchase the product; the seller either doesn’t have theproduct available or the product is of very low quality and the seller thenencourages the customer to purchase a more expensive substitute. The FederalTrade Commission also enforces laws that govern packaging and labeling.In the past, there had been much criticism concerning packaging andlabeling, so much that in 1966 the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act waspassed.
The Act requires that labels must be accurate and easily understood byconsumers. The Act also governs packaging descriptions and savings informationthat is disclosed on labels (Miller 529). Marketers face some morally difficultsituation in which they must make ethical decisions. Such a situation could be:The marketer’s Research and Development department hasmodernized one of the companies products. The product isn’t really “new andimproved”, but the marketer knows that putting that slogan on thepackage and advertising it would increase sale.
What should the marketerdo? This is one type of situation that many marketers may face in their careers.If the marketer should decide in favor of such a decision his or her behaviorwould be considered immoral. But, if he or she doesn’t decide in favor of theact then he she may be considered an inefficient manager.Marketing managers also face ethical dilemmas about whether theirproducts help or hurt consumers in less developed nations. The marketer mustevaluate the benefit and the risks of serving such nations, then he or she mustweigh those benefits against the risks by using his or her on judgement based onwhat they feel is morally right or wrong. The marketer must also take inconsideration the literacy level in such less-developed nations.
Marketing ethics are moral standards that guide marketing decisions and actions(McCarthy, 26). Today’s companies must form clear policies to guide marketersin their marketing decisions so they can be socially responsible individuals.The decisions that the marketer makes has a big influence on how others see thecompany. The employees must choose between what is in the best interest ofthemselves, the company, or that of society as a whole