What is ethical advertising and why does it matter?

Heart by congerdesign at Pixabay

It is often said that the actual purpose of advertising is to create needs and wants. I guess it’s because of that I sometimes get weird looks when I tell my business is an advertising agency (partly because it is that, and partly because it’s too weird to say ”my business strives to the small business owner’s best marketing buddy”), especially when I am talking with people that are into sustainability, permaculture and social justice – like myself.

Even the advertising industry itself seems to think that the kind of advertising which only concenctrates on telling the potential customers about the products and services of the advertiser, and how they can help customers with their current problems, wants and needs, is somehow old-fashioned.

I call BS on that. I strongly believe that in the world of massive over-consumption, mental issues due to low self-esteem and comparison as well as the reckless disregard of the ecological carrying capacity of the Earth, we need to change these harmful beliefs - and change them fast.

Advertising can be responsible

In today’s world, it is more important than ever for businesses to be conscious of their advertising practices. Consumers themselves are increasingly more aware of the power of advertising and the potential for manipulation, so it is essential for companies to take steps to ensure that their advertising is ethical and responsible, and for advertising agencies like us to make sure we help them in doing that.

The goal of ethical advertising is to provide customers with accurate information about products and services in an honest and transparent way. This of course means avoiding deceptive or manipulative tactics, such as making false or exaggerated claims. It also means being mindful of the impact that advertising can have on vulnerable audiences, such as children, and avoiding any tactics that could be considered harmful.

Avoid harm but more importantly do good

Ethical advertising is about much more than just avoiding negative practices—it’s about actively promoting the positive side. What are the problems your business can solve? Ethical advertising is in essence helping others - not trickery, exaggerations or false claims that bad advertising often is.

Companies can also use their advertising not to emphasize the importance of social responsibility, sustainability, and other values that are important to them and their customers. Doing so – honestly, not greenwashing anything – builds trust and also contributes to creating a better world for us all.

In addition to embracing ethical practices, small businesses especially need also strive to make their advertising as effective as possible. This means focusing on creating need fulfillment rather than need creation. Advertising should be designed to meet the needs of customers, rather than trying to create desires that lead to dissatisfaction and overconsumption.

Value-based advertising with the right partner

Our goal at Chase & Snow is to help small businesses succeed in their marketing in the heavily competed markets of today. There are companies today in the world that are bigger than some countries, and have marketing budgets bigger than the combined revenue of all our clients together. How can a small business compete with such giants?

We believe: by being smart, planning well – and executing well. That’s why we’re specialized in delivering maximum value and impact for the minimum viable cost in everything we do, in a way that is fair for our client, their customers and us, too.

In the long run, I believe ethical advertising is the way small businesses can succeed in the marketplace. Customers are not dumb – they see through greenwashing and empty claims about social justice or fairness that some businesses try to feed us. By acting ethically and telling about it through ethical advertising practices, businesses can not only win the trust of their customers and create a strong revenue for themselves, but also help to make the world a better place.

If you are looking for ideas on how to advertise ethically and effectively, or some more in-depth ethical marketing consulting, please contact us! That is exactly what we can help you with.