Ethics Research Paper on Ethical Issues and Global Leadership in Advertising and Marketing

Ethical Issues and Global Leadership in Advertising and Marketing

The industry of marketing is very broad because it is core in many business functions. Marketing assists companies operating globally to grow and sustain their sales. It covers the goals and needs of the business owners and customers. Nevertheless, marketing leaders have the responsibility of creating the feel and look of different brands, and come up with strategies of informing and engaging customers. Either way, successful marketers have to stick to particular fundamentals though that does not imply that all marketing is similar. Therefore, because there is a lot of competition in the market, it is imperative for leaders to make informative and quick decision because changes in the market are often frequent and quick. Various marketing strategies need different analysis and angles in a bid to understand future changes. This enables companies to evade and mitigate risk. The difference between failures and success of business therefore, depends on whether a leader is able to predict and analyze such facets. The pressure to be successful makes some of the leaders in marketing use unethical means to compete with others in the market.

For instance, in global marketing, the latter is very much experienced. This is because global marketing is among the distinctive areas of marketing. Though fundamentals are still applied, sale of a product in another country needs different perspective compared to selling a product in the home country. Unlike in foreign market, marketing domestically takes culture for granted. It is therefore, unethical and wrong for home countries to take the surrounding culture for granted. In the foreign market, culture is different. Thus, it is upon the marketing leaders to comprehend how the cultures are varied and how they affect the consumer behavior. Nevertheless, communication tends to bring much of the difference irrespective of whether companies are selling different products or not.


A good example of the cultures is the research done by most of the global marketing firms. In addition, the virtue of consumers eliciting displeasure about a company’s attempts to gain entry into the market without consideration of the cultural norms and religious practices of a country is not ethical.  Nonetheless, corporate culture is dominant. However, most companies going global have put into consideration not only the language barriers but also other ethical issues in the market. In fact, managers who train content have to consider various country laws, business environment, and cultural traditions. It would therefore, be wrong for companies to seek entry to other nations without considering the ethics therein.

Another ethical issue in the marketing industry is the increasing use of technology globally. In marketing, there is usually knowledge upkeep management, which in technology, entails establishing new chances of marketing and advertising. For instance, the internet used by many companies. Organizations and corporations have been using it for marketing and advertising their products without considering the ethics involved. It is therefore, crucial for marketers to understand the ethical issues associated with internet use. Otherwise, it would be wrong for them to engage in internet marketing when they do not understand the ethics involved.

The current consumers apparently referred as ‘New Millennial or digital millennial’ are perpetually connected and do their shopping online. The latter are productive and multitasking and use different media, filtering for control and immediacy. Therefore, these consumers process information much faster and differently. They are very much aware of the ads used by businesses to advertise and market their products. Some of them are assimilative yet self-expressive and would criticize any ads they come across. Others are self-entitled and optimistic and are of the idea that businesses should consult them for ideas. The act of criticizing every ad due to the current advancement in technology is unethical and consumer should avoid such behaviors.

The marketing department should therefore, be wary of various ethical issues and customs of different people and societies. By understanding and knowing their culture and preferences the leaders will be able to plan for the organization. This means that it is the customers who become the directors and determine the advertisement to be used in marketing because of the changes in the niche market. Nike’s ID shoe line is one example as it gives a chance to the consumer to control the appearance of 27 styles of foot wears and analyze their end creation before making a decision whether to buy or not. The idea of monogram, therefore, plays a big role in making the decision and can be unethical and wrong when not used in the right manner.

The aforementioned examples are just part of future implications concerning advertising and marketing industries. Other future developments and changes are expected. For instance, there could be increased commercial space travel, consumers increased selection of brand loyalty, not forgetting the fact that alpha norms could be strong, and well informed and multi-tasking in decision-making customers are also likely to crop up. This may pose challenges to marketing and adverting. As a result, unethical behaviors may crop up.

Strategies such as media generated by consumers, organ replacement and nanotechnology are also bound to come into the issues of marketing and advertising.

As these innovations help drive adverting and marketing, the problem that arises is the question of corporate responsibility and need for ethics in the marketing industry. This is the analysis of businesses for the negative impacts that might face marketing if it becomes more socially irresponsible to its stakeholders. An arising matter of concern is whether marketing firms should consider the profits made by a product or the effects it has to the consumers. It is wrong for management to concentrate only on making profits rather than catering for impacts a product has to the society. According to Boatright (102), this is the gap between marketing and innovation. He adds that in other instances companies lack new ideas and produce repackaged products just for the sake of selling them without considering the ethical issues associated with them and the implication they have to the public. For instance, many managers create structures and roles for innovation of products, which is wrong. R&D is supposed to innovate and work with marketing. The moment innovation is compartmentalized; no individual would want to think profoundly, deeply and creatively on the ethical issues correlated with such businesses. The marketers, therefore, do what they do on a daily basis because no individual is concerned about what they intend to do next.

In terse, important social drawback like negative impacts on values that are culturally affected, conformity advancement rather than individuality and class discrimination, ecological problems, cultural and imperialism caused by  consumption,   distribution and production come in place when ethical issues of marketing come into to light. Right from the sales executives of drugs targeting physicians to enhance the sale of drugs over the longevity of patient’s viability to marketing to small kids who have to solicit cash from their parents, marketing has the duty to enhance and make sure organizations attain the bottom line outcome. In such a case, it would be wrong for marketers to unwisely target kids in a bid to influence their parents in buying a product.

Nevertheless, the current market is pervasive and more complicated unlike the yesteryears market. It is not the products or services that have changed but the ethical issues that crop up as markets diversify and cultures integrate. Some companies would go an extra mile to manipulate small kids to change the way their parents think about some products. The question that arises is whether that is ethical or unethical (Boddewyn 47).

Another issue that is critical to companies is the care they have towards the environment. Consumers are apparently very cautious with the environment and it is upon the management of companies to ensure that they take care of it. Most consumers are informed and do research to know where companies get their resources. Companies that pollute the environment are likely to lose customers because they are doing the wrong thing. This is because consumers really want to know what other companies are doing for the environment and how they are putting the ecology of commerce into action.

Therefore, organization should be aware that the business world is changing considerably and people all over the globe share varied pop culture. The internet and the television, for instance, allow people to share many ideas, not mentioning the power they have for integrating people together. Increased international travels that have become a common thing have also enhanced the way people interact. The travels have brought together different ethnical backgrounds. Competition has also become more global with trade barriers slackening.

In other words, culture and countries are bleeding together. Due to this, the needs of customers are converging all over and it would be imperative for leaders to learn how to integrate different ethnicities. This is because in the future there is a likelihood of heavy challenges emanating from culture, technology, ethics, communication and ecology. A leader with the capability of tackling the aforementioned issue will be privy to succeed in not only the current markets, but also in the future market.

Either way, it would be important for companies to realize that ethical marketing efforts and decisions are bound to suit and meet the requirement of supplies, customers and other business partners. Therefore, unethical deeds like selective advertising, price wars and deceptive advertising are only there to tarnish the name of an organization. In fact, such factors negatively influence the relationship of an organization to its stakeholders. According to Boatright (67), many stakeholders prefer dealing with companies that are ethical compared to the unethical ones.

Nonetheless, leaders in a company should be privy to various ethical issues. These ethical drawbacks come because of disagreement and conflicts. Each party in a marketing transaction has different expectations based on how the relationship of the business should be established and how the two parties should conduct their businesses. Nevertheless, each marketing factor has dangers as seen in the following discussion.

Market research

Ethical issues that arise due to market research include stereotyping and invasion to privacy. Stereotyping or invading the privacy of people or companies while doing research is wrong and unethical. This is because for researchers to inevitably attain their goals and objectives of their research, they have to analyze population by putting them into groups. If the researchers do the research unethically, then there is likelihood that the wrong results will be achieved.

Market audience

Researchers do selective marketing to discourage demand from market sectors that are not desirable. In addition, companies can consider issues that correlate to vulnerable audiences in the marketing that are merging especially in the developing countries. This is because the markets there may be already aware of various skilled marketing ploys (Boddewyn 89).

Ethics in promotion and advertising

In the past different harmful products used to be advertised as though they contributed greatly to the health of individuals. For instance, in 1940s, tobacco was promoted in different nations as though it promotes health. This was unethical and wrong because smoking has adverse effects to human body. Apparently, however, it is admonished that any advertiser who wants to advertise should say the truth otherwise; he or she offends against morality and the law. Sexual content and innuendo is also used often to advertise content and products. In fact, most people interpret it to imply sexual harassment and it is wrong to do so. Violence advertisement is another issue that should be put into consideration notably for children.

Advertising of some products may also be disgusting to some individuals while being of interest to others especially when being advertised on social sites such as the internet, television among others. Such advertising could include products that are more of feminine hygiene and constipation or even hemorrhoids medication. Others such as condoms have been accepted due to the need for preventing HIV/AIDS, though are at times seen by many as promoting promiscuity. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with advertising the latter because of its significance to the society. In other advertisements, the advertisers use negative advertising techniques such as highlighting the weaknesses and disadvantages of their competitors. Such techniques are common in politics and it’s a wrong way of advertising and marketing (Boddewyn 75).

Delivery channels

Direct marketing is at times tricky and a controversial channel of advertisement especially when dealing with unsolicited approaches. A good example is the direct mails and TV commercial, which are a common mode of advertisement. In fact, telemarketing and electronic spam tend to push the boundaries of legality and ethics very much.

Ethics and deceptive advertising

Deceptive marketing is normally not particular to a targeted market and at times, the public do not notice it. Indeed, deceptive marketing can be applied in various ways (Boatright 64). Some deceptive are presented to the consumer through humor, which offers relief or escape from human constraint. Moreover, some advertisements take the advantage of the humor to deceptively advertise a product that has potential harm to the consumer.


Practices that are anticompetitive

Switch and bait are good examples of fraud. Consumers are deceived by advertising a service or a product at prices that are low and this is wrong. Conversely, the consumer realizes that the product being advertised is not there and are compelled or switched to products that are costlier. Planned obsolescence is another policy that has ethical issues and it is unethical to use such strategies. This is the act of designing a product with limited useful life. Therefore, the products become nonfunctional or unfashionable after a short while and leave the consumer with the burden of purchasing another one. In addition, there is the pyramid scheme. This is usually a business model that is not sustainable and keeps on promising those who participate, services or payment for enrolling other individuals in the scheme. In essence, they do not supply any physical or practical asset or real investment or sale of product to the public. Such advertisement is unethical and wrong for they rarely benefit those who invest in them.

Pricing ethics

A good example of pricing ethics is the bid rigging which is a type of fraud. The latter is unethical and wrong. In bid rigging, one party is promised a commercial contract then other parties appear for the sake of presenting a bid. Predatory type of marketing is also another ethical issue in marketing and is unethical. It is the act of selling services or products at low prices in a bid to drive away other competitors in the market. This can also be done to enhance barriers to entry for competitors who have the potential.




Use of ethics as a tactic of marketing

Big corporations fear damaging their images related with press revelation due to practices that are not ethical. On the other hand, marketers are usually very quick in perceiving the preference of the market for companies that are ethical, mostly moving quickly to take advantage pertaining specific tastes of the consumer. As a result, propagation of ethics is experienced as either a corporate image component or a selling point.

Irrespective of the services or products provided in the targeted market, marketing ethics sets the border and guidelines for any good marketing practices. Therefore, for marketing departments, it is imperative for them to understand that for them to be able to market effectively and ethically, there is need to make efforts and decision that suits the desires of business partners, suppliers and customers (Boatright 89). Many companies are only concerned with the environment and the population from where their businesses are situated but forget to handle the ethical issues involved. It is significant for them to ensure that they enhance social responsibility to place, peoples and things in their vicinity.

Nonetheless, ethical behaviors can be promoted through planning processes. Achieving the latter needs a customer centric mission, control measures that are not biased and a marketing mix that is thoughtful. A company can realize its process of marketing through market mix implementation. In fact, the degree of such firms is based on particular measures that show how future iterations can be controlled in the market plan. However, for ethics to be incorporated into the planning phase, the mission of the corporate has to be defined. The definition can be in terms of fulfilling customer’s need or serving the customers but not centric objective of the company like increasing its profits.

At the same time, as companies decide on placing the product, it should make sure that it is offered to every consumer who requires it. This is irrespective of the distance or geographical features. In addition, during the control phase, companies can look for unethical behaviors such as stereotyping large groups of people based on a research done on a couple of customers.

Finally, conducting post-implementation research ethically gives the company a chance to maintain control of marketing strategy and future executions. Therefore, the marketing ethics involves moral principles that are behind the regulation and operation of marketing. The managers of marketing thus have the social responsibility to increase the acceptability and awareness of social practices and ideas apart from developing marketing programs. Therefore, as leaders, they should take the responsibility of evading what is unethical in an organization. They should adhere to laws and regulations involving them, and faithfully and honestly represent their brand, their organization and themselves. The leaders should also make sure that their actions and choices are in the interest of all the stakeholders.

In the implementation phase, the leaders can put the strategies of marketing into action through use of marketing mix such as product, price, place and promotion. In fact, every organization can base it strategic plans on the requirement of its customers through such strategies. In pricing, practices that are not ethical could include predatory pricing and bid rigging. Normally, it is the responsibility of the company to sell its services and products at fair prices so that the customers acquire the best products possible.


Companies also have the mandate of making sure that they do not engage in negative advertising. In effect, they should promote honesty and truth about their services and products. A good example is the Direct TV and the Dish TV that use negative advertisement. They manage their advertisement by highlighting the disadvantages of each other on facets such as channel number rather that advertising their advantages.




Works Cited

Boatright, John R. Ethics and the Conduct of Business. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007. Print.

Boatright, John R. Ethics and the Conduct of Business. Princeton, N.J: Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, 2002. Print.

Boddewyn, J J. International Business Scholarship: Aib Fellows on the First 5 Years and Beyond. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2009. Print.

Boddewyn, J J. International Business Scholarship: Aib Fellows on the First 50 Years and Beyond. Bingley, UK: Emerald JAI, 2008. Print.

Boddewyn, Jean. International Business Scholarship. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2009. Print.