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Marketing Ethics

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The question of whether or not marketing is completely unethical is the

question most critics of marketing seem to be focusing their attention on.

Ethics provide the basis for deciding whether a particular action is morally

good or morally bad (Britt 553). But, each individual develops different

opinions, moral standards, and values. So, marketers will deal with similar

issues differently because there is no "correct" way to handle any given issue.

Marketers face various types of ethical issues in their everyday marketing

activities. Such marketing activities that require marketing managers to

utilize 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 very

difficult to pinpoint, because times have changed and continue to change on a

day to day basis. What one person may consider unfair or deceptive may not be

unfair or deceptive to another person. There are no clear cut guidelines for

marketing manager's to go by, so they must utilize their own judgement based on

their own moral standards. But, in the United States their is an administrative

agency that has the power to control unfair or deceptive business practices.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was created in 1914 to prevent "unfair

methods of competition in commerce (commercial trade) and unfair or deceptive

acts or practices in commerce (Miller 590)". The FTC issues guidelines that

define unfair practices and in some instances the FTC will investigate

widespread complaints to seek settlement of the complaint. The FTC has also set

forth specific rules to govern certain advertising practices such as bait-and-

switch advertising. Bait-and-switch advertising occurs when a seller

advertises a product at a very low price to lure in consumers, but when

customers come in to purchase the product; the seller either doesn't have the

product available or the product is of very low quality and the seller then

encourages the customer to purchase a more expensive substitute. The Federal

Trade Commission also enforces laws that govern packaging and labeling.

In the past, there had been much criticism concerning packaging and

labeling, so much that in 1966 the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act was

passed. The Act requires that labels must be accurate and easily understood by

consumers. The Act also governs



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