BEST PRACTICE: Fair game - How to market ethically
There are many examples of marketing campaigns that have led to accusations of crossing ethical lines, knowingly or unwittingly, or that have been 'ethically challenged' in some way. One of the highest profile examples is that of false claims in adverts. Other marketing practices, however, such as 'stealth marketing' (the use of surreptitious practices that fail to disclose or reveal the true relationship with the company that sponsors the marketing message) or competitive intelligence gathering, get less exposure.
Some ethical dilemmas that marketers can face are harder to resolve and tackle than the deliberate misleading of customers. These might include marketing across cultural boundaries and to vulnerable customers, dubious pricing and Internet strategies, and marketing products that are inherently controversial and that have big environmental impacts.
The resulting erosion of trust between a customer and vendor can undermine the objective of creating more sales, damage reputation and cause a loss of market share. Every marketer should be aware of such examples and understand why they happened to avoid becoming part of an unwanted headline.