Marketing Ethics and Social Responsibility

marketing ethics
moral principles that govern marketers’ behavior
societal marketing concept
advocates balancing society’s interests with the needs of consumers and marketers
consumer socialization
the processes by which young people acquire skills, knowledge, and attitudes relevant to their functioning as consumers in the marketplace

three stages of consumer socialization:
1) perceptual (3-7 years old) during which children begin to distinguish ads from programs, associate brand names with product categories, and understand the basic script of consumption
2) analytical (7-11 years old) during which children capture the persuasive intent of ads, begin to process functional cues regarding products, and develop purchase influence and negotiation strategies
3) reflective (11-16 years old) when children understand advertising tactics and appeals, become skeptical about ads, understand complex shopping scripts, and become capable at influencing purchases

covert marketing (masked or stealth marketing)
consists of marketing messages and promotional materials that appear to come from independent parties when, in fact, they are sent by marketers.

popular methods of covert marketing include:
1) actors posing as customers telling people the product benefits and giving them a chance to examine or try the product
2) paying bartenders for praising brands of alcoholic beverages and recommending them to customers
3) employees posing as customers online – in chat rooms, blogs, etc. – and spreading positive word-of-mouth about the product and even providing samples. they also encourage people to tell others about the samples they have received.
4) emails disguised as “urgent” messages or personal thank-you notes
5) inserting advertising messages into the content of programs and disguising advertising messages as entertainment

figure and ground
marketers increasingly use techniques that blur the distinctions between figure and ground and make it difficult for consumers to clearly distinguish advertising from entertainment content
product placements
for example, to combat fast-forwarding by consumers who wish to avoid TV commercials, marketers are increasingly turning to product placements, where the line between television shows and ads is virtually nonexistent
another potential misuse of figure and ground and occurs in print ads that closely resemble editorial matter
30-minute (or even longer) commercials that appear to the average viewer to be documentaries, and thus command more attentive viewing than obvious commercials would receive
truth-in-advertising laws
protect consumers from false advertisements
deceptive advertising
over time, the FTC has developed guidelines as to what constitutes deceptive advertising, and it holds marketers responsible for determining their ads’ potential to mislead consumers
corrective advertising
the FTC can also require companies that have misled consumers to run corrective advertising.
categories of violations
three major categories of violations:
1) unsubstantiated effectiveness claims: representing the drug as more effective than the evidence available suggests; representing the drug as useful in a broader scope than the research evidence indicates
2) omitted risk information: failure to reveal risks resulting from using the drug correctly; failure to present information on side effects; stating the risks in unclear language
3) unsubstantiated superiority claims: presenting the drug as more effective or safer than others in spite of the fact that there is no evidence supporting such a claim
the study of advertising’s effect on brain activity
cause-related marketing
some firms engage in cause-related marketing, where they contribute a portion of the revenues they receive from selling certain products to causes that are socially desirable and supported by the American public

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