Is your marketing ethical?

Essentially the ethicality of your marketing boils down to one simple question – is your marketing moral or immoral?

The morality of your marketing will encompass a number of areas;

1)    The claims that you make – are they accurate and honest?

2)    The target audience – for example; are you targeting children in an appropriate way and with an appropriate product?

3)    The pricing – is the offer and the price fair and honest?

4)    The hidden elements – are you hiding something that the customer has a right to know? Are you blurring the edges? Are you offering something at a price that is not actually available (remember how the budget airlines used to advertise flights?)

Being 100% honest may not make for the catchiest marketing slogans – but being caught out doesn’t make for great PR either.

Be upfront with your customers – most people appreciate honesty and tend to respect a company for telling the truth.

This doesn’t mean you have to highlight all the downsides too – after all marketing is marketing and the aim is the sell the product or service. But to be ethical you do need to be fair. And in this instance fair can also be translated as moral.


Shout if your marketing is ethical.
Shout if your marketing is ethical.


But what does being “moral” or “ethical” actually mean?

An individual’s view of ethics and morality is influenced by a variety of things including their culture, experience, family, background, upbringing, community, peers, religion and country.

In order to embark on an ethical marketing campaign you need to go through the following steps…

1)    decide what ethical means to you

2)    decide what you are going to communicate to your customers about your ethics

3)    look to see if there are areas where you can improve the ethical behaviour of your company and its products

4)    check your claims – are they exaggerated? Are they accurate? Are they honest? Are they supported?

5)    are your sales techniques ethical? Or do you practice high pressure selling techniques or target vulnerable customers (e.g. pensioners)

6)    are you squeezing your suppliers to the extent that it damages their business or has an impact on the quality of the products sold to you?

7)    ask yourself honestly – would you be happy to buy from you?


Ethics is a grey area as it encompasses so many aspects of a business and everyone has a slightly different view about what it means. But it’s also becoming increasingly important. Just because it’s not clear cut is no excuse for behaving unethically.



Chantal Cooke

About the Author:

Chantal Cooke is an award winning journalist and broadcaster with a passion for the planet. In 2002 she co-founded the award winning radio station PASSION for the PLANET and in 2009 Chantal was awarded London Leader in Sustainability status. Chantal also runs a successful communications agency – Panpathic Communications.




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