Advertising must have the quality of being true. Advertising must show facts of the situation. In a given situation the total of all facts will constitute truth. All facts would include pleasant and unpleasant, convenient and inconvenient, right and wrong statements of a situation. All facts must be free from impure, adulterated, false, wrong, exaggerated and under-rated statements.

Ethics is a set of moral principles and rules of conduct. It refers to the moral duty and obligation that an advertiser has towards the society. Thus, ethics in advertising means truthfulness and absence of misrepresentation of facts in the advertisements.

Advertising is basically for providing information to consumers. It is for sales promotion through persuasion. Truth and honesty should not be discarded in advertising. This aspect relates to ethical issues in advertising. The word ethics is derived from the Greek word “ethos” which relates to character. Ethics deals more with good than evil. An advertisement is right or moral depending upon what ethical standard prevails in the society.

Ethics is a branch of social science and deals with a set of moral principles of good behaviour. It tells what is good and what is bad as regards human behaviour and actions. Ethical principles suggest how an individual should behave for social good. Ethics and morality are closely connected. Advertising, as a profession, is subject to certain ethical standards. Ethics in advertising means truthfulness and absence of misrepresentation of facts in advertising. Exaggeration, misleading claims, false promises, etc. should be avoided in advertising.


The term “ethical” relates to conforming to professional standard of conduct. Advertising will prove to be a curse to the society if it is unethical in character. Government puts various restrictions in order to check unethical advertising. Professional bodies concerned with advertising have suggested the following

norms for ethical advertising: (1) Advertising shall tell the truth and reveal all information and facts which will enable people to make right decision.

(2) Advertising containing testimonials shall be limited to competent persons who express honest opinion.

(3) Advertising shall refrain from attacking competitors unfairly.

(4) Advertising shall be free from being offensive to public decency.

(5) Advertising shall make explicit claims regarding price reduction, guarantees or warranties. Importance of Ethics in Advertising / Relationship between Advertising and Ethical Values:

The importance of ethics in advertising is universally accepted. However, ethical values are not given adequate attention on many occasions. The advertisers ignore their ethical duty and expose obscenity and display vulgarity in the advertisements. The standard of advertising will be higher if adequate attention is given to ethical values in advertising. Adequate protection should be provided to consumers against misleading advertising. Similarly cheating and exploitation of consumers should be avoided.

Consumers appreciate ethical values in advertising as they provide safety, protection and welfare. They even oppose unethical advertising by refusing to purchase products so advertised or by putting pressure on the government to ban unethical advertisements. Ethics in advertising is also important as it acts as a positive force for debasing our aesthetic and cultural standards. Even consumers should learn not to be misled by the advertisements which are unethical. There will be public support and public confidence in advertising, when advertising activity is conducted on the basis of high ethical standards. Unethical advertising brings down social standards. Unethical is bad business. Determining what ethical advertising is can be complex. Advertisers, agencies, media, government and other institutions all try to influence the definition of what is ethical. The challenge is not in establishing a code of ethics but rather in ensuring compliance with codes. One simple universal rule suggested as a base for ethical advertising is the golden rule of treating others the way you wish to be treated yourself.

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