Roger Halaby on Ethical Marketing
Posted on 2022 Apr,19  | By Roger Halaby

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Roger Halaby, CEO of Dubai-based Hanging Gardens agency, reflects on the true meaning of ethical marketing, the level of ethics practiced in the communications industry and on top of it all the criteria of ethics measurement.

Have we ever asked ourselves on the level of ethics practiced in the communications industry? I mean we are all aware of the fact that in many cases, advertising and marketing campaigns may apply all techniques to achieve the objective of sales to a product or traffic to a website. But hold on a second: How to measure the criteria of ethics in that? What about the consumer?

There is no doubt that practicing professional ethics in our business is one of the most complicated hot topics of all time, as our fundamental beliefs are validated in our personal ethics and spread into our work practices while conflicting with the formula between doing the right thing and making money in any possible way at the expense of the consumer.

Simply put, ethical marketing means applying ethics to the thinking process while giving thoughtful examination of specific marketing issues as they relate to moral judgment in sync with developing proper and ethical claims without bluffing existing or potential customers. It seeks to promote honesty, fairness, and responsibility in all forms of communication. On the other hand, ethics is a notoriously complicated title because everyone has subjective judgments about what is right” and what is wrong.” For this reason, ethical marketing is not a tough or a must-do list of rules, but a general set of basic guidelines that aims to function properly when customers perceive communication as honest, authentic, and genuine.

When done in a thoughtful way, ethical marketing can be an economical and effective form of communication. It is the simple question of will this sell” oris this the ethical way to sell it?” as there is no other way but to be honest and fair with consumer being the wisest route to success for any brand or product. This mutual trust will manage to build positive perception, a relating of belief, and brand loyalty, which transforms customers to brand endorsers themselves and a reason to keep coming back and spread the word about the brand on any occasion.

The easiest way to lose a brand is by lying to customers. Day in and day out, people get exposed to various marketing campaigns telling them what to buy, why to buy it, and who to buy it from. With the invasion of online shopping nowadays, consumers are fully able to make buying decisions based on what they want rather than what theyre told, so when they have the option to buy from a business that shows ethics in communication such as the promise versus tangibility, theyre going to go for it.

It doesn’t come to our surprise that because of constant unethical marketing practices and transmitting misleading messages that consumers nowadays are doubting transparency in campaigns and became cautious to messages they consume. They scrutinize tricky terms in ads, spend time in reading consumer reviews to decide on the purchase as they do not want and doesn’t like it to feel manipulated. Not to forget mentioning that bad marketing is a complete turn off to consumers and will surely lead to reputation devalue and deception of a brand.


"It is the simple question of will this sell' oris this the ethical way to sell it'?”


Just wondering how many brands around the world have taken advantage of the fact that consumers were locked inside their homes during the pandemic to sell them massive disinformation of products, services or even wrong hopes while knowing they were just taking advantage of peoples boredom, fluctuations of emotions, or unstable reception. These are the issues that will be clearer in the next couple of years as markets are starting to get out of shells and consumers will be able to realize what has been ethical and what hasn’t during that phase.

Nowadays, brands are starting to realize the importance of acting in more of an ethical way to broadcast this transformation to consumers. If a company makes an effort to advertise and communicate more ethically, it reflects positively on every area of the business while not forgetting the fact that consumers nowadays have a say on the brands performance and authenticity through commenting or sharing opinions through social media and communities.

Finally, turning back in time to the one and only David Ogilvy who once drew a line saying: “Never write an advertisement which you wouldn’t want your own family to read. You wouldn’t tell lies to your own wife. Don’t tell them to mine.” The best act marketers could do is communicating the truth, which will be the building block to a loyal customer base, increase brand equity, and the foundation to a profitable yet sustaining business on the long run.