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Emerging Business Ethics Issues: False or Deceptive Advertising

Example of Business Research Paper Introduction

In most cases, selling products requires the creation of advertisements in order to attract the attention of the customers. It is commonly accepted that both large and small companies would employ certain marketing tactics in order to increase their sales through advertisements, posters, or TV commercials. In other words, it is a common practice of companies to use commercials for profitability purposes. However, in most cases, the companies are tempted to avoid ethical boundaries for the reason of profit, which is the main issue in business ethics. Abuses in advertisements through false or deceptive TV commercials or posters have become very rampant due to stiff competition (Albarran, 2013).


The marketing strategists should be fully aware of the impact of false or deceptive advertising in selling the products. It is basically the tendency of the advertisements to provide misinformation or false reality to the customers. Using this technique, the gap between the perception of the customers toward the advertisement and the actual products is widened. The above-mentioned tendency is influential in the business, especially with regard to customer satisfaction. Such a case can be observed when the customer’s expectation is incompatible with the quality of the purchased product.

In some situations, impressions created by the advertisements increase the expectation of the customers about the product. Most of the time, the gap between the expectation and the reality about the product is high, which results in serious disappointments on the part of the customer. The reason is that convincing them to buy the product is only one aspect whereas satisfaction that would be gained from it is another issue. Thus, there is a direct relationship between false or deceptive advertising and customer satisfaction (Shimp, 2007).

Consequently, customers’ dissatisfaction exists when false or deceptive advertising occurs as a result of unethical practice. This usually happens when advertisements or commercials are seen in brochures, signage, or other printed materials that attract the attention of the buyers but mislead them from the real capacity of the product. The impressions created by those promotions do not usually match the belief of the customer once the product is purchased. This has to be avoided or reduced because it affects greatly the perception of the customer about the product as well as the image of the company. It should be noted that the customers are loyal to those brands or companies that give them satisfaction and will not mislead them.


Basic Principles in Marketing Communication

There are fundamental ethical principles that must be abided by the marketing specialists while communicating with the customers through the advertisements. According to John Egan (2007), marketing communication involves the manner of attracting customers through various methods of advertising and promotions. Egan (2007) emphasized that marketers have to abide by certain principles while formulating advertising strategies in the most ethical manner. It has been noted above that the advertising techniques have evolved into a modern one due to the sophistication of the current technology. Modern techniques of advertising have greatly utilized the advancement of technology in the forms of television and the Internet. The images that can be created through such devices are persuasive enough to attract customers. However, Egan (2007) warned the advertisers that this does not mean neglecting the interests of the public.

Advertising is one way of persuading consumers to patronize a particular product. Due to this fact, competition among businesses is considerably stiff. While analyzing this aspect, the profitability of the product nowadays is highly dependent on the various advertising techniques employed by the firm. An effective advertising technique is assumed to make the product famous in the market. It would be difficult to compete with other business firms if the advertising technique is not effective, and, moreover, if the firm lacks the fund or the intention to engage in advertising (Mullerat and Brennan, 2011).

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It has been recognized that the advertisement is the bridge between the product and the customers. It would be hard to imagine a business world without advertisements. It intentionally persuades the customers to patronize the product. However, it is noticeable that in the current society, the various means of advertising the products have become very extravagant and more complicated. Previously, the advertisements relied on the traditional method of word of mouth and simple promotional schemes. It is no longer a question of whether the advertisement is necessary, whereas the most critical issue for the firms nowadays is how far they would go in its strategy of attracting the customers (Egan, 2007).

In the field of marketing communication, the psychological impact of advertising is emphasized. False or deceptive advertising is a manifestation of unethical marketing communication practices. It postulates that humans have a driving motivation to maintain consistency among the relevant cognitions. In such a case, different beliefs or opinions generate tension of the individual. The tension must be relieved in any possible way because this human drive powerfully dictates that people should always maintain a balance among their opinions and behaviors. In short, the discrepancy between the two must be reduced or eliminated immediately, whereas the tension would persist. Conversely, encountering opposing beliefs is to some extent unavoidable.

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The Impacts on Business

The impact of false or deceptive advertising on business is rather serious. For this reason, marketing planners must be conscious that advertising has either false or deceptive influence on the customers. If analyzed carefully, it has a significant impact on selling products and customer satisfaction. It usually occurs when the perception of the customer before the purchase does not correspond to that after purchasing the product. While using the product, the customers normally discover some unexpected and unwanted features, which were withheld during the advertising and selling processes. Indeed, advertisement increases the expectation of the customers about the product. If the gap between the expectation and the actual functioning of the product is not reconciled, it results in serious disappointments on the part of the customer (Wicklund and Brehm, 2013).

Advertising experts must realize the fact that convincing the people to buy the product is only one task whereas satisfaction gained from it is an entirely different issue. Subsequently, there is an apparent relationship between cognitive dissonance and customer satisfaction. First, the business must be 100% sure that the product is certified high quality. If this is not be attained, customer dissatisfaction will occur when cognitive dissonance operates.

When advertisements or commercials are seen in brochures, signage or other printed materials, they mislead the customers about the actual capacity of the product, where their complaints are also expected. This has to be avoided or reduced because it affects greatly the perception of the product and the image of the company by the customer. It should be also considered that the customers are also concerned about whether they can trust these companies. In addition, those organizations that give satisfaction and never mislead the customers are highly trusted and supported.

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Psychological Effects of Advertisements

Advertisements have clear psychological impacts on customers. If the right procedures are followed by media practitioners, the customers would successfully be attracted to buy the products or services without violating any ethical standards. Consequently, media practitioners would have to attract first the attention of the customers. One of the possibilities to achieve this aim is the effective manipulation of the images and obtaining celebrities with good reputations. The attention of the consumers would be certainly captured through the corresponding technique. The next step is to attract the interest of the public.

Consumers are usually searching for products from which they can benefit. This can be attained by presenting a distorted depiction of the description and functions of the products being endorsed through the advertisements. If the interest of the consumers has been raised, the desire is the next target. This can be obtained by emphasizing what will happen to the customer when he purchases the product. In some cases, advertisements for slimming food supplements usually present a desirable image when one uses such products. The last stage is the action taken by the customers. When the three steps are achieved by the advertisements, it is inevitable that the customers will purchase the product.

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Media professionals are adept enough in dealing with the psychological effects of advertisements on the customers. They are aware of certain psychological effects such as selective perception or stereotyping. While using selective perception, the advertisements are designed to capture the attention of the customers through colors, size, or any feature that may be considered as attractive. Selective perception assumes that the individual chooses the stimuli that would rise later. This may affect advertisements because individuals usually see what they want to see. For example, when purchasing a car, a buyer would normally select the one that captures one’s personal preference even if it is not the most practical or rational choice.

Regarding stereotyping, media practitioners tend to cast characters based on their race, gender, or any ascribed backgrounds. Basically, this is considered as an inaccurate perception that is called stereotyping. It is a kind of misperception that evaluates a person on the basis of the group to which one belongs. Some common inaccurate generalizations with regards to stereotyping are that black people tend to be violent, rich people are bossy at work, women tend to be submissive, etc. Advertisers tend to magnify such misperception in order to attract customers.

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Example of Business Research Paper Conclusion

It should be concluded that false or deceptive advertising is an unethical practice. Though it is unavoidable, marketing experts should always be aware of the ethical boundaries while making advertisements with full consideration of the customers’ welfare. Actually, there are many factors that may lead to successful advertising without resorting to deception. However, the main objective of the advertisement is to present the major sources in order to persuade the public to buy the product. In most print advertisements, it may be observed that the logo is big in order to attract the attention of possible customers (Armstrong and Kotler, 2009). Below the logo, there is the name of the company, which sells the products. Consequently, the message below the name of the company signifies the main sources of persuasion like “stylish designs” “trends” and “durability.”

In some advertisements, the demographic or psychological factors of the receivers can be used by the marketing experts. For example, if the target population is male, the choice of words would intentionally attract the attention of male customers. The term “manliness” is clearly used to persuade the male clients to buy the clothing products of the company. In other words, the term has a powerful psychological impact on male customers of the company.

The above-mentioned principle can be coupled with an effective message. The message of the advertisements should be persuasive and substantive in order to be successful. For example, it should be structured in a way to convince the possible customers who are seeking new styles of clothing that the company is serious and provides quality products. Though there are a big logo and name of the company, the main technique is to present an advertisement that is dependent on the message. The message should try to persuade the receivers that the company is providing what is best for the customers. The selling point is customer satisfaction and the tastes of the new generation, which buttresses the print advertisements.

In some printed advertisements, it is be emphasized that the technique is included in the message factors /gaining power. In this approach, the print advertisements would intentionally persuade the target audiences by threats or controlling factors. In line with this principle, print advertisements are above the mentioned respect and boost confidence to attract those people who have low self-esteem.

In some advertisements, the approach used is the receiver factors, particularly demographic or psychological ones. The reason is that the choice of words would intentionally attract the attention of the male population. For example, the term “manliness” is clearly used to persuade male customers to buy the clothing products of the company. In other words, the term has a powerful psychological impact on male customers of the company.

One way or the other, successful advertisements are constructed based on any of the said principles. False or deceptive advertising occurs when any of the mentioned factors are deliberately used to manipulate images to the point of distorting the information about the products. Advertisers tend to exaggerate the features that would tap the component of the target audience. Basically, sizes, shapes, or images are presented in a way that creates an illusion in the minds of the audience who, consequently, buy the products or services.

Recommendations for the Avoidance of False or Deceptive Advertising

In order to avoid false or deceptive advertising, there are suggested techniques proposed by the experts. One technique is degrading the significance of the disagreement between two equally important perceptions. The justification provided for the customers that the conflicting beliefs are insignificant is an option in reconciling dissension (Cooper, 2007).

For example, buying a car, the customers expect too much due to the design and elegant presentation during product endorsements. In their view, the expensive amount would commensurate the quality of the car. The service provider has to take some actions if the company is not sure that it can provide complete satisfaction to the customers. In order to reduce the dissension, the service provider must justify the importance of buying such an expensive item. Convincing the customer to purchase the car due to its elegance and an added value to the prestige of the person has to be provided by the sales representative.

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Forcibly changing the dissension by arguing that the perception of the customer is not true is another technique that can be used to reduce dissonance. It can be done by comparing the opinion of the customer to that of the majority, and stating that the majority who purchased the product was satisfied, which will convince the dissonant customer that his opinion might be wrong (Ferrell, 2005). The service provider must effectively persuade the complaining customer that the latter’s point of view should be reassessed because it is contrary to the belief of the majority. In this sense, the complaining customer may be forced to reconcile his two opposite views about the product due to the positive comments of those people who also purchased the product.

Moreover, the negative effects of false or deceptive advertising would be regulated by means of several measures or techniques, since persistence may result in more complaints from the customers. Consequently, more products will be returned in the process that might eventually cause a decrease in the number of customers through such unethical tactics. One of the major suggestions is not to exaggerate the features of the product in an endorsement material. Presenting an accurate description and the features of the product without compromising the ability to sell are ethically recommended. Advertisers should be fully aware that they have to avoid the exaggeration of the size, shape, or colors of the product (O'Sullivan, Smith, & Esposito, 2012).

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Another suggestion is to have a professional outlook of the website. Therefore, the wordings on the website must be simple, concise and, most importantly, grammatically correct. It is necessary to emphasize the functional features and durability, not the appearance of the product. The actual benefits that the customer would get from the product must also be highlighted.

The next suggestion is the training of front-liners such as the customer relations or sales representatives in handling professionally the selling of the product without any exaggeration. This group must present correspondingly the advantages and disadvantages that one will get from purchasing the product. They must avoid misleading customers who intend to buy the product. Therefore, they should not withhold any information required by the customers such as warranty, materials, or ingredients used.

Furthermore, establishing the customer service department will be also useful in order to avoid unethical practices. The above-mentioned department would handle complaints from the customers as a result of false advertisements. Large companies usually have such a department in order to manage or regulate the complaints from the customers in the initial phase of operation. If the customer is dissatisfied with the service, this department is the only one that could resolve the complaints. If effective, the reputation of the company would be protected in the process.

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