BUAD 307





05--Model for ethical evaluation of decisions

PowerPoint Narration

Evaluating the Ethics of Marketing Programs and Ideas.  We discussed one model for examining marketing decisions in class:

The flow chart raises a number of issues with issues being raised in sequence:

  • Deception and Manipulation.  For something to be misleading or deceptive, it does not have to involve outright lies.  Statements can be true and still misleading.  For example, the Kraft cheese advertisement which mentioned the importance of calcium for bone growth and then showed the Kraft cheese slices to include a large amount of milk while the competing brand did not include any did not actually state that the competing brand had less calcium.  That would not be true, but most people would tend to infer this given the information provided.  However, in this case, the inference would be incorrect since the competing brand had calcium added separately.  Note that, in some cases, there may be a “redeeming” purpose of acts or programs that may be manipulative if these efforts are intended for a good purpose (e.g., a non-profit program trying to get individuals to stop smoking by getting them angry at tobacco executives).
  • Preying on personal insecurities.  Advertisements may cause consumers to focus on bodily imperfections and other perceived personal limitations, causing the consumer to buy products that he or she may not otherwise have bought. 
  • Product dangers. Products that can potentially cause consumers harm tend to be problematic.  In some cases, there may be some danger in using a product that is unavoidable.  For example, it is not possible to design a car that can guarantee no risk of injury.  In such cases, the benefits may outweigh the potential danger, but products that may cause serious injury or harm without sufficient redeeming benefit are more likely to be suspect.


Ultimately, ethical decisions come down to personal convictions and the way that the individual decision maker sees the product or campaign is seen as a whole.  The model presented will not flag all possible ethical violations; this is why the end points indicate “more likely” and “less likely” rather than a more definitive conclusion.


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