The aim of this essay is to discuss The importance of the application of ethics in marketing. When first delving into the subject, it seems to be a topic filled with extreme complexity. In this writing I will try to unravel the intricacy of socially responsible marketing. First of all we need to focus on the true meaning of Ethics. Singer (1985) defines Ethics as “moral philosophy the discipline concerned with what is morally good and bad, right and wrong. The term is also applied to any system or theory of moral values or principles” (Singer, 1985). According to Adcock, Halborg and Ross (2001) it is influenced by the common values existing within an organisation and applies moral principles in its decision making process. As far as ethics in marketing is concerned, Lexicon Financial Times (Anon., 2012) describes it as a way companies can attract positive publicity by building strong customer relationships while adding value to the company and attracting stakeholders by taking environmental social responsibility in promoting and manufacturing its products. The principles of ethics are all encompassing throughout the marketing strategies of the organisations concerned with ethics.
In order to understand how important a role ethics plays in marketing decision making, we should analyse the factors determining the process. Ethical decisions should be influenced by three main aspects: individual factors, organisational relationships and opportunity. The individual factors are heavily influenced by social structure and culture (Dibb, et al., 2006). What some individuals from developing countries consider to be ethically taboo, can differ substantially from more developed countries where education is more widespread, also religion plays a large role in individual ethics, for example in some Islamic cultures they are still subject to an archaic system of law that sentences convicts to extremely disproportionate punishments that appear ethically backward through western eyes (Ahadi, n.d.). This is also true concerning the age of consent and child marriage all of which appears to be socially acceptable locally (Istitute of Social & Cultural Anthropology, 2012). This is just one example of cultural diversity relating to individual ethical viewpoints.
Dibb et al. (2006) states that research have established that the values of an organisation supersede those of an individual. This makes the marketing employees who form the organisations ethical policy and the wealth of ethically minded individuals, who surround them, extremely important. This is true especially when there is potential to take advantage of lucrative unethical policy. One glaring example of this was the collapse of ethics at the corporate giant Enron, which was thoroughly explained in the documentary “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” by Alex Gibney. Enron’s shareholders were being lied to regarding the value of stock by a dubious system called Mark and Market in which projected profits were reported as actual profit. This enabled Enron place stock worth at whatever they wished. This was a very effective way of keeping shareholders in the dark about the deep financial hole that was engulfing the company. This led to massive amounts of shareholders being encouraged to invest more and more money into Enron, all the while company executives were selling millions of dollars worth of stock. These high risk policies, although known to be very perilous were encouraged, led even by the company executives, Kenneth Lay, former Enron CEO, and Jeffery Skillings, alleged ignorance to the internal auditing system they had in place. The depth of Enron’s unethical issues spiral deeper and deeper. Many people lost their jobs, others lost their entire pension. These people ruined lives for financial gain. Although they may have believed they could lie and cheat their way out of this grievous situation. There was ,however, one member of the board of directors,