As in other areas of business addressed in Chapter 4, ethics in promotional activities is extremely important. Some common ethical violations with promotional campaigns include puffery and deception. Puffery is an exaggerated claim about the prevalence of a product. Although puffery is legal, it should cause an organization to lose its reputation with the public. As discussed earlier, a brand terrorist can do great amounts of harm to a company’s reputation if a product is overhyped and falls short of its inflated expectations.
Deception involves an organization deliberately making promises that are not true. A consumer may have legal recourse for deception. An example of a deceptive practice that’s illegal is “bait and switch” advertising:
A company advertises a low-priced product that’s on sale, and when the consumer arrives that product isn’t available; the corporate then tries to sell the customer another dearer product as a substitute.
Another area of ethical debate is marketing to children and teenagers. this is often particularly a priority when it involves tobacco or alcoholic beverages. it’s illegal for companies to focus on those that are legally unable to consume their products.
Other situations of ethical concern when it involves marketing to children arise when an organization like a beverage company signs a contract with a faculty to produce solely its brand of beverages on the varsity campus. this is often not an illegal practice, but it’s controversial, as some feel that such schools are being controlled by corporations that want to induce children to become brand loyal to their products.