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Ethics of Target Marketing: Process, Product or Target?
Unformatted Document Text:  13 In these advertising cases, the targeted young adults were aware of both the sponsor and the product. Even though the promotional items did not carry the Surgeon General’s warning, they did carry the sponsoring tobacco company’s name. As most bar patrons know that smoking is unhealthy, as long as the sponsor was identified they had the option to make an informed decision of whether or not to sample the product. Therefore, these tactics are more obvious and thus less ethically questionable than the public relations tactics because the advertising target is informed of the product and the sponsor is clear. Nevertheless, the advertising tactics still raise ethical concerns because of the harmful nature of the product and the possibility that young adults are vulnerable consumers. Now that the impact of the process on ethical evaluations of target marketing is understood, the role of the product must be evaluated. In the examples of McDonald’s, the reader may have questioned what is wrong with McDonald’s building playgrounds, giving away free toys, and donating to children’s charities. Some individuals would answer that childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States, and by specifically marketing to children, McDonald’s is behaving irresponsibly by targeting vulnerable consumers. Others would claim that McDonald’s is providing an affordable product with significant amenities. Although children many not be aware of nutritional values of hamburgers, these individuals would argue that it is the parents’ responsibility to provide food for their children and McDonald’s can not be held responsible for poor parenting decisions if children only eat hamburgers and thus become obese. After all, McDonald’s never claims that its food is healthy or recommends that children only eat hamburgers and fries. So, while the ethical evaluation of McDonald’s marketing

Authors: Fisher, Brooke A..
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13
In these advertising cases, the targeted young adults were aware of both the
sponsor and the product. Even though the promotional items did not carry the Surgeon
General’s warning, they did carry the sponsoring tobacco company’s name. As most bar
patrons know that smoking is unhealthy, as long as the sponsor was identified they had
the option to make an informed decision of whether or not to sample the product.
Therefore, these tactics are more obvious and thus less ethically questionable than the
public relations tactics because the advertising target is informed of the product and the
sponsor is clear. Nevertheless, the advertising tactics still raise ethical concerns because
of the harmful nature of the product and the possibility that young adults are vulnerable
consumers.
Now that the impact of the process on ethical evaluations of target marketing is
understood, the role of the product must be evaluated. In the examples of McDonald’s,
the reader may have questioned what is wrong with McDonald’s building playgrounds,
giving away free toys, and donating to children’s charities. Some individuals would
answer that childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States, and by
specifically marketing to children, McDonald’s is behaving irresponsibly by targeting
vulnerable consumers. Others would claim that McDonald’s is providing an affordable
product with significant amenities. Although children many not be aware of nutritional
values of hamburgers, these individuals would argue that it is the parents’ responsibility
to provide food for their children and McDonald’s can not be held responsible for poor
parenting decisions if children only eat hamburgers and thus become obese. After all,
McDonald’s never claims that its food is healthy or recommends that children only eat
hamburgers and fries. So, while the ethical evaluation of McDonald’s marketing


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