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Marketing Ethics Essay

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Popchips, a U.S. brand that markets itself as a healthier, low-calorie alternative to fried potato chips, released a series of marketing campaigns starring pop icon Katy Perry with edgy rhetoric that certainly grabs people’s attention. However, the ads also aroused controversies over the slogans and pictures which intended to convey the message of ‘healthy and ‘natural’ with humor. This essay mainly centers on two most disputed ads within this product promotion campaign. As depicted in Picture 1 (see Appendices), Katy Perry lifts up Popchips in workout gear as if she were weight-lifting meanwhile surrounded by tagline “Love. Without the handles.” (the belly fat collecting around the torso is commonly called ‘Love handles’) and “I curl Popchips straight to my lips. Good thing they don’t go straight to my hips.” It suggested that Popchips is a light snack that won’t give your body too much burden. Featured in Picture 2 (see Appendices) is Katy Perry intentionally juxtaposing two bags of Popchips in front of her breasts, with a slogan saying “Nothing fake about’em.” This ad implied that Popchips have no artificial ingredients and they are as natural as Katy Perry’s breasts.

The first advertisement might have violated the principal of fairness whose emphasis is on balancing justly the needs of the buyer with the interests of the seller. In this case, Popchips apparently took customer’s demand into consideration. From the perspective of product, it provided snacks that goes along with the trend of leading a healthy lifestyle, while from the promotion point of view, it featured Katy Perry, a pop star who enjoys high popularity and would be favored by most audience of this advertisement. It is certainly in line with the interests of Popchips as well, since finding a celebrity to spoke for its brand can bring in generous amount of sales. It seems like this ad is fairly ethical in the way of trying to balance the interests of buyers and sellers, but what has gone wrong is the matter of ‘justly’. Although Popchips positioned its products as lighter and healthier snacks than the competitors in the market, it still contains more fat than baked potato and the same amount of calories (Customer Reports, 2013). The message conveyed in the tagline created a false impression that eating this type of potato chips will not put extra weight on the customers. Therefore, this piece of ad failed to represent the products in a clear way, or to be more specific, it involves delivering false and misleading promotion.

While in the second advertisement, the controversy it raised is even more apparent, and the negative consequence it has brought to the brand is two-fold. Firstly, it compared the naturalness of the snacks to a body part of Katy Perry, which blatantly objectified, sexualized and dehumanized women, and violated one of the AMA Code of Ethics, Respect. It showed no respect to females, who consist a certain demographic group of the brand’s customers, and insulted the basic human



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