Unethical side of marketing

hink of a situation that you may have experienced, witnessed, or heard about where the unethical side of Marketing was displayed. In a 2-3 paragraph response tell about it and tell us why it was unethical.


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The Unethical Side of Marketing

Using Women and Girls as Sex Symbols in Advertising

One of the most common forms of unethical marketing is the use of women and girls as sex symbols in advertising, in an attempt to attract men to purchase products or services (Liu et al., 2006). Today, the rate at which brands and companies are resorting to this form of unethical marketing is very alarming. A general look at billboards, TV, newspaper, internet, and magazine advertisements reveals that many brands today use images of half-naked ladies to attract attention to their products and services. While some may argue that using models in advertisements for cosmetics and beauty products is intuitive, having skimpily-dressed women on advertisements for machinery, smartphones, land, and other products and services that are not strongly related to products for women, beauty, and cosmetics is nonsensical and unethical.

Advertisements that use women as sex symbols also pass wrong messages about women, as the women used are mostly employees and not bosses, followers and not leaders. This communicates that women cannot be leaders and that they have to work for men to succeed. Such advertisements pass wrong messages to members of society. Using sexual appeal in advertisements is constantly scrutinized in ethics regardless of the target audience. In business operations, marketing (especially the use of advertisements) is the function that is most often charged with unethical practices. While ethical judgments are complex and subjective, often being related to cultural norms, the use of sexual appeal in advertising is an unethical business practice. Businesses and brands should ask ethical questions before using women and girls in advertisements, especially where the services and products advertised are not beauty products or cosmetics.


Liu, F., Li, J., & Cheng, H. (2006). Sex appeal advertising: gender differences in Chinese consumers’ responses. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics.

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