Deception in Advertising: Volvo's "Bear Foot" Misstep

Topics: Ethics, Advertising, Decision making Pages: 6 (1400 words) Published: November 6, 2005
Executive Summary.

When making ethical decisions, I usually use the Virtue Approach. Before making any ethical decision, this approach requires you to first ask what kind of person should you be (Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, J., & Meyer, 2005b). This method assumes that there are particular ideals that we should strive towards.

One question I believe should be asked when talking about deception is, 'Is the company, in question, practicing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?' In this paper, I will provide some examples of CSRs.

I will also discuss what I see as false claims made by Volvo in its monster truck ads. I will reflect on findings from my research on this ad and Volvo's stacked vehicles ads.

Lastly, I will thrash out Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, J., & Meyer's (2005a) critical thinking framework for making ethical decisions. In the end, I will tell what I thought Volvo's intentions were and if they were ethical or unethical.

Deception in Advertising:

Volvo's "Bear Foot" Misstep

Ethical Decision-Making Approach

The ethical decision-making approach that best matches the manner in which I make ethical decisions is the Virtue Approach. This kind of approach assumes that there are particular ideals that we should strive towards. Virtues are character traits that allow us to be and act in ways that help us develop to our highest potential (Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, J., & Meyer, 2005b). Virtues are attitudes such as self-control, fairness, generosity, compassion, honesty, and courage. Virtues are similar to habits; they become someone's personal characteristics. When faced with an ethical dilemma, I use the Virtue Approach by first asking what kind of person should I be (Velasquez, Andre, Shanks, J., & Meyer, 2005b).

What is Deception in Advertising?

Deception in marketing is a fuzzy subject. Many think that ethics is an oxymoron. Most companies try to enlarge their market as much as possible. Naturally, every company is driven to escalate consumption of its products. Kotler (2004) reports that a high-level executive for Coca-Cola in Sweden once said that her goal was to get people to stop drinking orange juice and start drinking her company's soda for breakfast. Kotler (2004) also says that the marketing executives at McDonald's encourage their customers to always choose the largest sodas, fries, and hamburgers from their menus. Coca-Cola and McDonald's have some of the world's best marketers within their organizations (Kotler, 2004). This just proves that most good marketers will do everything possible to sell their products to the public.

One question that I believe should be asked when talking about deception in advertising is, 'Is the company, in question, using corporate social responsibility?' Some of the examples of corporate social responsibility are (Kotler, 2004):

- Treating customers fairly with quick responses to inquiries and complaints

- Treating employees and vendors with fairness

- Not only stating, but living out the company's values

- Always acting in an ethical fashion

False claims in advertising can harm consumers by persuading them to buy inferior products. Consumers waste billions of dollars a year on misleading marketed products ("Fraudulent health," 2005). Marketers usually rely on success stories to promote their products; sometimes these stories are fictitious ("Fraudulent health," 2005). It harms consumers the most by hurting companies who market and advertise fairly and honestly. Consumers begin to distrust all advertising because of deceptive marketing by some, which hurts these honest companies with loss of revenue. A consumer's trust in a company's intentions is the most significant foundation of loyalty for their product.

In regards to Volvo's monster truck ad, the false claims are that they demonstrated an event that could not have happened without the vehicles being manipulated. This is deceptive, but I don't think that it hurt anyone. After...

References: Fraudulent health claims: don 't be fooled. (2004). Retrieved September 22, 2005, from
http://www.consumeraffairsjamaica.giv.jm/fraudulent_health.htm
Hakim, D. (2005). Not the top of the safety priorities. The Center for Auto Safety. Retrieved
September 22, 2005, from http://www.autosafety.org/article.php?scid=174&did=1120
Kotler, P. (2004, November/December). Wrestling with ethics. Marketing Management, 13(6),
30-35
Velasquez, M., Andre, C., Shanks, T., J., S., & Meyer, M. J. (2005a). A framework of ethical
decision making
framework for moral decision making. Markula Center for Applied Ethics. Retrieved
September 23, 2005, from http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/thinking.html
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