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Ethical Marketing

Hi all,


I am very interested in the ethics of marketing and would love to hear what you find ethical or unethical and how you deal with client requests that might be in the grey zone. 

Ethical activities in the field of marketing 

In marketing, especially in these days of digital marketing trends, here are some of the most obvious activities, which indicate that a marketing strategy is ethical:

  • Doing thorough research and attaching reliable sources of data to any design that will be published for the consumption of prospects.
  • Presenting advertising content that will be very beneficial to consumers due to the inclusion of attractive functionalities.
  • Using customer-friendly platforms that encourage transparency through reviews and comments.
  • Being open about what you expect to gain from your target market.
  • Offering discounts that you actually give when people earn them.
  • Building genuine relationships that can help your prospects with real life struggles.

What is unethical marketing?

In contrast to how ethical marketing uses morality and respect for prospects as the yardstick before carrying out any marketing activity, unethical marketing simply focuses on gaining more subscribers and attracting buyers, even at the expense of morality.

When a marketing activity is unethical, the target audience will receive an incorrect message from the business or organisation behind it. This incorrect message will by no means be accidental, as it was the original aim of the marketers to use different unsuspecting methods to deceive prospects into becoming buyers or subscribers. 

For unethical marketing to be successful, the company marketers behind it have to throw respect, integrity, and further standards out the window. This is why despite temporary gains, nobody really wins with unethical marketing.

Unethical activities in the field of marketing 

These acts are not always obvious. In fact, it will be hard for a regular prospect to know that they are being tricked into making decisions. As a business owner, it is your duty and marketing responsibility to make sure that you do not carry out any of these activities.

  • Bad-mouthing a rival company in your industry so that your prospects will dislike them and choose your products and services instead.
  • Exploiting public outrage over a tragic event.
  • Using misleading statements that will make your prospects think you sell products and offer services that are not as good as you make them appear. 
  • Lying about your prices on social media just to get traffic to your website or online store.
  • Comparing what you offer with what your competitors are offering the same target market.
  • Using unverified or false data to promote your business.
  • Using women as sex symbols or encouraging sexual content to attract people to your page.

And on and on it goes. There are so many ways in which unethical marketing is used to play on people’s intelligence. 

How do you apply ethical marketing to your business or to your job? 

Looking forward to hearing from you all.



Community Member

Hi Sonja,

Great post!

Unfortunately, I have declined several offers of work due to ethical concerns. However, I decided very early in my career not to be an instrument for that type of communication and business activity. 

It is not always an easy path to walk, but one that is worthwhile for your conscience and the quality and transparency of content available to consumers.


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