Nov 2, 2020 in Analysis

Ethical Reasoning and Action Paper

Ethical Reasoning

Business ethics represents one of the most contentious and complicated topics in human relations. Both corporate leaders and academicians have researched the connection between doing an appropriate thing and amassing wealth for ages without reaching a substantial agreement. Surveys created by commercial centers have established some individuals lack ethical integrity in business. Business Dictionary defines marketing ethics as values and principles that govern business practices of those involved in selling goods or services to users. Good marketing guidelines have a potential to improve customer satisfaction with products and services promoted or corporations producing them. Marketing ethics is a concept that requires enhancing honesty, impartiality, and accountability in advertising. As such, every business entity should employ ethical marketing for successful operations and customer loyalty. The following paper analyzes marketing ethics and identifies an ethical issue in the case study explaining its cause, moral concepts connected to it and courses of action to resolve it.

An Ethical Issue in the Case Study

In the case study, an ethical issue arising is unethical advertising. From the description, McDonalds represents a fast-food company producing products that cause a health concern of obesity. It is believed that fast foods pose a significant health risk and danger to individuals, particularly, young people. As such, advertising such products for consumption, especially by children, is a type of an unethical activity. McDonalds has often been accused of targeting kids directly in its promotion of hamburgers. The issue is wrong since children absorb a significant part of such information without being capable of assessing it objectively. Exploiting such innocence represents one of the most common unethical marketing practices.


Concepts Related to the Issue

Among ethical problems related to advertising, promoting the consumption of unhealthy products and attracting individuals to buy such food are the most burning. In the issue above, ethical concepts include deceptive advertising and unethical but lawful promotion among others. Regarding the first phenomenon, fast-food companies typically fail to tell consumers of the negative consequences of consuming their products, which include the obesity risk. False advertising is prohibited under Section 43 (a) of the Lanham Act. As such, this law focuses on the principle that consumers possess the lawful right to know what they are procuring. As for unethical but legit promotion, it is usually beyond the realm of law enforcement, but within the framework of self-regulation. As such, the company continues to advertise products, because the process is legit, but it nonetheless affects the consumer. The case with McDonalds is one pertaining to the sale of goods that have double impacts.

Courses of Action to Solve the Issue

In addressing the issue, McDonalds and the relevant bodies should follow various principles. The first one is that advertisers should treat clients impartially based on the nature of the audience whom ads target and the nature of the good or service promoted. As such, the principle will ensure the welfare of children is considered since they are termed to be especially vulnerable because of their inexperience, susceptibility to being misled, immaturity, and the lack of cognitive skills to assess the credibility of advertising. The benefit of such a plan of action is that companies can effectively encourage the consumption of healthier food and the adoption of healthy lifestyles. The disadvantage of such course of action is that childrens awareness depends on the way in which an ad is created and distributed, and it is unfortunately done through using a negative approach.

The second method is engraved in the principle that declares that advertisers should adhere to the national and state promotion guidelines and adopt self-governing trade programs for promotion activities. It is based on the Council of Better Business Bureaus Code of Business Practices. The pros of such a principle are that McDonalds will ensure truthful and non-misleading advertising. As a result, its ads will not omit the truth. Its disadvantage is that despite all acts in place, companies still employ false advertising in their advertisements.

Another course of action entails advocating for transparency in advertising. Its advantage is that McDonalds will conduct its promotion campaign in a fair, honest, and forthright way. Nonetheless, the disadvantage of such a course of action is that most fast foods will continue resulting in obesity unless substituted with more healthy products.

Other practices that can be employed include normative marketing practices that are typically used when assessing commercial ethics. They include virtue ethics, duty-centered theories, and utilitarianism. Such practices are imperative in enhancing trustworthiness, transparency, and accountability in individual marketing policies.

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The Best Alternative Solution

An appropriate alternative solution for dealing with such an ethical situation is adopting self-regulative approaches by McDonalds, whereby the corporation should ensure that its advertising is in line with the applicable standards complying with the federal, state, and business policies. Self-regulatory practices are essential because they ensure that the company adheres to its code of conduct in advertising. As such, the business will not consciously promote the sale of goods that have adverse impacts on the consumer. Additionally, such approaches will hinder the company from selling to the wrong target group, particularly, children.


Marketing ethics have been described as being essential in ensuring impartial, honest, and credible advertising. Going contrary to such factors translates to unethical promotion. In the case study, McDonalds faces issues affecting children and fails to tell the entire truth about the nature of fast foods, which mainly increase obesity risks. As such, approaches to resolving the problem should entail treating clients impartially, adhering to the national, state, and native advertising guidelines, and enhancing transparency. Though such methods may be useful, they nonetheless have some disadvantages, and having self-regulative practices will be of significant help.


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