Business Ethics in Advertising Essay

June 26, 2022 by Essay Writer


The demand for a product is influenced by the information released on the product. Advertisement sends a message of demand through the consumer’s mind (Beauchamp, 2010). Manufacturers utilize adverts to manage information about their products. Consumers differentiate products and their substitutes through advertisements. Manufacturers make aggressive adverts to influence or mislead consumers.

Ethical advertising closes the gap between informative and misleading adverts. Marketers devise subtle ways of increasing the demand for their products (Carson, 2011). Sparingly, manufacturers commit ethical crime on every advert published on its products. For example, doctors had exclusive information regarding the efficacy of drugs. Pharmaceutical companies promote their products through adverts. They provide information about each product.

The information released on the product poses ethical issues. The advertisement is legal, but the message is morally wrong. Some manufacturers give false information about their products, protecting the side effects on the consumers. Advertising has improved the quality of information about a different product, and the influence of adverts on consumer’s decisions creates concern. Consumer protection will enforce moral and legal guidelines in the advertisements (Beauchamp, 2010).

Ethics in advertising

Adverts must be regulated to provide a balance for the consumer. The decisions taken by the consumer may be influenced by a misleading advert, and it signifies danger to society (Gardner, 2010). We must examine the context of advertising and the limits for advertisers. The adverts sponsored by tobacco companies mislead the consumer on the benefits of their brand. The lethal properties of cigarette are ignored and never advertised.

Another example is the sale of condoms. The advert is offensive, but it stimulates demand. The advert reveals the benefits of condom in the family. The advert stimulates ones thought to the end user. The target groups for condoms are not married couples, but youths (Gardner, 2010).

We know the percentage of married couples who uses condoms. Thus, youths are the vulnerable targets in the adverts. Let us look at the sale of many beverage drinks; Smirnoff Ice produced an advert misleading consumers on the content of the drink. You cannot find ice in the drink, and it is a subliminal advert.

Another example is the adverts used by automobiles. Volvo produced a deceptive advert of its product. It showed the beam strength of its products when slammed against steel. The advert was misleading because the product used in the advert was reinforced with steel beams.

Thus, the information gathered from advert can cause damage to consumer market behavior. Advertisers must be forced to apply legal and moral rules in each advert. It is legal to advertise tobacco, but what is the moral rule on the advert. The manufacturer must inform the consumer about the effects of the product. I believe the consumer should have a balanced knowledge of each product.

Deceptive adverts and consumer’s autonomy

We have established the importance of adverts to the consumer. We can improve on the content of the adverts to benefit consumer’s choices. Deceptive adverts disrupt consumer’s autonomy. The hidden message of a product ruins consumer’s demand for the product. The mission of every production firm is to sell quality products. Thus, a deceptive advert reduces its market strength and affects the consumer’s decision. Consumer protection is a difficult task. Who protects the consumers?

Adverts can change consumer behavior towards a product (Hill, 2009). Thus, deceptive adverts will manipulate consumer product demand. It is difficult to ascertain the intent of the producer, but the effects of the advert on the consumer can be determined. Consumer’s autonomy may be violated when the consumer decides on his or her choice of product. The consumer may not be physically restrained, but the effects of the deceptive advert may overturn his or her behavior (Hill, 2009).

The government can falsify product quality to suit selfish interests. Regulatory agencies can be compromised to certify substandard products. Consumer protection agencies can be paid to release false claims of consumer’s satisfaction with a product. The cycle of compromise cuts across the chain of supply; starting from the producer to the end-user (Wyckham, 2000). I will propose five assurance tests for adverts and consumer protection.

Consumer protection test

  1. Producers must reserve a consumer protection policy, which provides warranty after use. The customer is entitled to a payoff in the event of product failure. The policy should be enforced on all products.
  2. The message in the adverts must be clear. The advert must pass through legal and moral test procedures.
  3. Substandard products should be announced by substitute producers.
  4. Consumer protection agents must be monitored.
  5. Producers must complement their investment on quality brands.


Finally, misleading and deceptive adverts must be stopped. The facts of each product must be advertised. The message must correlate the legal and moral rules of advertising. Consumer protection improves consumer satisfaction. The expectation of the consumer must compliment the price and quality of the product. The hands-off method may be justified in a competitive market. I believe the right of the consumer supersedes the sale of the product. What we sell must improve consumer satisfaction.


Beauchamp, T (2010). Manipulating advertising and consumer’s protection. London, England: Academy Press.

Carson, T. (2011). An ethical analysis of deception in advertising. New York, USA: McGraw Hill.

Gardner, D. (2010). Deception in advertising: A conceptual approach. Sydney, Australia: Ibex Press.

Hill, T. (2009). Autonomy and benevolent lies: Autonomy and self-respect. New York, USA: Cambridge University Press.

Wyckham, R. (2000). The language of advertising: Who controls quality? Australia: Brave Publishers.

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