False and misleading advertisements have become a daily component of any individuals life. Telling people false information in order to gain a competitive advantage is considered to be unethical. However, deception can come in many forms and happens in individuals lives a lot more than one would think. There are times when deception may be seen as ethical, such as a parent hiding their child’s medicine in ice cream. While it may be wrong to lie to a child about what they’re eating, this scenario is seen as normal. On the other hand, if a cereal company advertised their product to children as a healthy cereal, and later found that the amount of sugar in the cereal is double the number of competitors, it’s seen as unethical. In order to understand deception, one must consider unethical marketing practices.
In today’s world, it is considered normal to see misleading advertisements. Not only are these misleading ads unethical, but they are also illegal. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces laws against deceptive advertising and product labeling. They also enforce advertising campaigns to back up their claims with scientific evidence (DeMere 2). A recent example of a company that was sued by the FTC is Nutella. Nutella, which is a hazelnut spread, was portrayed as a “nutritious breakfast for children” (DeMere 2). When finding that this was not true the company was forced to reimburse up to twenty dollars to anyone who brought the product because they believed the false campaign (DeMere 2). In this case, deception was considered to be illegal, which obviously makes the companies advertising methods unethical. However, there are cases when companies can advertise ethically while misleading the consumer.
When a company emphasizes the difference between their product and their competitor’s product, it is not considered to be unethical (LaMarco 2). For example, if T-Mobile decided to create a commercial where they say their phone service is fifty percent faster than Cricket, this would be seen as ethical advertising. The only way this would be unethical is is T-Mobile was lying about their claim to be faster. Another example of ethical advertising is when the company at hand promotes a positive attitude, rather than basing their advertising off human emotions, such as lust (LaMarco 1). An example of this could be the new Gillette, a company that produces shavers, commercial that talks about toxic masculinity and covers topics such as sexist behavior towards women by men. While this commercial has turned many heads, it is considered to be an ethical form of advertising.
Overall, companies can advertise their product in both ethical and unethical ways. Unethical, or deceptive, advertising can cause consumers to purchase a product or service because of the misleading marketing tactics that the item produced. It is important to provide consumers with the correct information in regards to the product or service that is being provided. Deception is involved more in a person’s everyday life than they’re aware of. This being the case, consumers must make sure they are aware of the different types of advertising. They must also consider the reason why they are buying a product and whether or not the company is being truthful to them.
DeMers, Jayson. “5 Common Unethical Marketing Practices: Are You Guilty?” Forbes, 17 May 2017, <https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2017/05/17/5-common-unethical-marketing-practices-are-you-guilty/#2e8ae42e2f27 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.>.
Gillette. “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be.” YouTube, 13 Jan. 2019,<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koPmuEyP3a0 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
LaMarco, Nicole. “What Is The Difference Between Unethical & Ethical Advertising?” Small Business, Chron, 8 Nov. 2018, <https://smallbusiness.chron.com/difference-between-unethical-ethical-advertising-19262.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.>.