The Red Thread of Values: My Perspective on the Reflection of Ethics

In advertising, ethics may sometimes be the border, the red thread which sheds the light between the right and the wrong values. Certainly, there are rules and guidelines for advertising company in order to not offend the audiences. For example, deception and false claim in advertisement to trap the audiences, so that they purchase the product will make the advertisement unethical due to the misused of the information to the public.

Moreover, advertisement, which is used in politics for example, sometimes deviates the public and often time uses false information to influence the public to gain their support to certain figures. This is another unethical example due to the false information showed to the public for merely the sake of vote.

Ideally, the advertising company should be able to identify clearly who their audience targets are. Unfortunately, this identification often has not been well-researched by many companies in the field. A child advertisement has to consider what the products are and what the products for. This issue becomes critical mainly because children often times do not able to grasp what the products for, especially children under age. In failing to identify and describe the products and targets clearly, advertisement to children tends to be unethical when generally the children do not get enough information in the advertisement, and especially when the children are forced to think in the sense they are supposed not to. Terribly, many advertisements are continuously targeting the children, such as fast food advertisement in the elementary schools which basically suggesting to eat unhealthy food early at the young age.

Another critical issue is to put the correct information to the specific audiences, advertisement may mislead the targets to believe in wrong information if failing to do so. If, however, the correct information is shown on the right proportion to the right target, advertisement may educate the audience to be a better consumer. For example, by showing children to brush their teeth before sleeping is a good advertisement selling tooth brush to kids.

At the moment, let us shift our discussion to profit. Profit is part of a business, because what is a business? Business is often time done to provide product or services for profit. However, it cannot be said that every economic activity generates profit. Profit always appears in relations with economics activities in which two parties are involved with money. Due to its relation with money and profit, business is often time in a grey area from the perspective of ethics.

It has not been doubted that child labor is a topic with many ethical implications. However, this issue is also very complex due to many economics factors in relation with varieties of social and culture. According to convention on the right of the child in 1989 UN general assembly, the minimum working age is to be determined by each of the country member itself.

There are some reasons that employing children assumed to be unethical such as, first, it violates the right of the children. The children are not yet mature and should be treated accordingly. The working children are taken their right from education as well. Due to these reasons, children employment violates the right of children and furthermore it exploits their energy. Secondly, employing children is not a fair business. Because by doing so, the company tries to minimize the wage cost and thus creates unfair competition with the companies which are hesitant to do so due to their understanding that it is unethical.

Now, let us move our discussion to stakeholders, mainly those outside of the organization. What kind of rights do they have? And what pressure they may do to the organization? Consumers and shareholders are part of outside stakeholders that are as important as the stakeholders inside the company. Business activities will not continue if there is no consumer uses the products or service offered by the company. In order to guarantee the continuity of the business, consumers need to be maintained and satisfied, while the shareholders are provided with appealing return of investment.

There is a slogan saying that “consumer is the king”. It does convey the meaning that consumers should be treated well morally, not just due to an ethical issue, but importantly a requirement to succeed in the business. There is a strong correlation between ethics and success in the business. A good attention should be directed to the consumer to ensure the success of the business. Even though consumers have the title of the king, they are often in the weak position. Thus, consumers may put pressure to the company in order to keep their rights intact. In the modern time context, consumers are sometimes played victims by the company manipulation. Thus, a consumer may raise a pressure in order to get their rights. These rights include rights of safety, information, choosing, and education. The company should understand the customer rights and respect their rights, however other than those rights, the company has the right to deny any other pressures from the consumers.

Last but not least, shareholders as another stakeholder and outsider of the company play big role as well as the consumers do. The shareholders may often time bring different perspectives to the company. The company should be open minded to put itself on the shoes of the shareholders. However, if the shareholders desire mainly to go after profit without considering other sides such as company mission, the company should stand against and remind about the company mission. However, if the shareholders bring an insight to how to perform and put pressure to increase effectiveness, the company should be smart enough to accept another point of view in order to ensure the healthiness of organization and its dynamism.


Ahmad Nursalim

Full Time MBA

Sabanci University


About elfatah

No more much motivating except my own enthusiasm. Defeat never comes to any fighter until he/she loses this magic spark called enthusiasm. -Ahmad El Fatah-
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