First Draft: Module 6: Advertising & Marketing Ethics
Module 6 Advertising and Marketing Ethics
In this module, we study the ethical contours of decision-making within the marketing and advertising industries. We will weigh the competing goods at stake
in this field, including the values of free speech and censorship, protecting vulnerable members of society against deceitful, predatory, or manipulative
messaging, the legal and moral limits of promoting one’s product in a free but fair, competitive marketplace, and other practical issues.
Upon successful completion of this module, you will be able to:
Morally appraise the widespread practice of advertising in terms of its potential harms and benefits.
Engage in critical self-examination around problems of liberty arising in our commercial society.
Weigh the competing public and private goods that are at stake in the overlap between education and profit-making.
This module focuses on the following major topics:
An ethical defense of the value and importance of advertising
Possible threats to the freedom of consumers by advertisers and their practices
The ethically problematic intersection of commercial and educational interests
Summary of Module Learning Activities
This section outlines the activities that you will complete in this module. It is recommended that you complete the readings in the module prior to submitting
Read: Ciulla et. al readings
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All readings below that are listed with page numbers are in our Ciulla et al. reader.
Alan Goldman, “The Justification of Advertising in a Market Economy,” p. 259
Box, “Marketing to Millennials,” p. 261
Leslie Savan, “The Bribed Soul,” p. 264
Case 7.3: “Hucksters in the Classroom,” p. 271
Introduction to Our Guest and Interview Questions
First of all, a very warm welcome to our guest for Module 6, Professor Robert (Bob) Fiddler.
Since starting as a copywriter for the Spiegel catalog in 1979, Bob Fiddler has built a career in marketing communications as a creative, manager, strategist,
entrepreneur, and teacher, evolving his knowledge and skills to reflect the dizzying evolution in marketing communications. He has worked on the client side
at Fortune 500
companies, as well on the agency side, including as principal of The Fiddler Group, the integrated brand communications company he founded. More
recently, he has turned his attention to teaching the next generation of marketing communication professionals.
In this module, Module 6, we study the ethical contours of decision-making within the marketing and advertising industries. Our goal is to weigh the
competing goods at stake throughout this field. These include the values of free speech and censorship; protecting vulnerable members of society against
deceitful, predatory, or manipulative messaging; and the legal and moral limits of promoting one’s product in a free but fair, competitive marketplace.
Professor Fiddler, when previously spoke, you related some really interesting personal experience that is very on-topic for the issues surrounding the module
we’re discussing today. Can I ask you to help set the stage for us today and talk a little about not only your own current research interests but also the
professional background that you and I discussed before?
One crucial issue that crops up in some of the material we’re looking at for this module is the so-called right to advertise. Lots of tricky ethical (not to
mention legal) issues arise around the practice whereby promotional messaging encourages or even helps to create irrational desires. According to Alan
Goldman, “irrational desires” in this case refers to desires whose fulfillment would have a net harmful impact on consumers. Professor Fiddler, can you help
walk us through some of the legal or ethical complications here? Should advertisers be regarded as partially morally responsible for harms to consumerswalk us through some of the legal or ethical complications here? Should advertisers be regarded as partially morally responsible for harms to consumers
resulting from their promotional activity, even when it is legal?
Let’s talk about Millennials and other younger consumers. Many commentators have pointed out that there’s a trend among such folks to consciously spend
more for more environmentally sustainable products, or products made by companies that are willing to issue statements of support for progressive social
reform movements. All this stuff is usually filed under the label “Corporate Social Responsibility.” I’d love for you to offer us your perspective on this trend,
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The midterm paper allows you to analyze the conceptual and normative issues surrounding the assigned materials for a module of your choice up through
the midway point in our course.
Please finish a draft of your midterm paper. Your paper is to be 5-6 pages long (1300-1700 words), typed and double-spaced. Remember that the maximum
length requirement is an important aspect of this assignment. Please follow the APA style to cite your sources.
Your assignment will be submitted to the Turnitin plagiarism prevention service via Canvas. Your assignment content will be checked against Internet
sources, academic journal articles, and the papers of other students, for common or borrowed content. Turnitin generates a report that highlights any
potentially unoriginal text in your paper.
This is an opportunity for you to check your paper for plagiarism and compositional
You are allowed one attempt to submit the final version of your assignment as repeated submissions checked via Turnitin will produce inaccurate and high
similarity scores that indicate possible plagiarism.
This draft is not graded. But this milestone is graded on a complete/incomplete basis. Failure to submit by the deadline will result in an “incomplete” and a 5-
point deduction from the grade you earn on your final paper final submission.
Note: The midterm paper will be graded on a 100 point scale. It is worth 25% of your course grade.
Please review the rubric below to understand how the assignment will be graded.