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Ethical Advertising: 3 Brands Getting Their Marketing Right

Sam Jacobs

Sam Jacobs
Paid Search Director

7 min read

21st Dec 2023

In today’s marketing landscape, ethical advertising isn’t a niche concept for businesses to offhandedly adopt. It’s a fundamental requirement.

Data shows that consumers are becoming increasingly invested in socially and environmentally responsible brands that align with their values and principles.  

By promoting ethical advertising in your business’ marketing campaigns, you can build a strong reputation and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future. 

What is ethical marketing?

Before we look at some examples of brands getting their marketing right, let’s take a minute to clarify what ethical marketing really means.

According to an Ahrefs article from September 2023, “Ethical marketing is when you promote a product, service, or brand in a way that aligns with your values and morals. This means not making inflated claims, practicing transparency and openness, and more.”

In simplified terms, it is about making sure that an organisation’s marketing practices aren’t harmful to people, or the planet. 

Businesses with a strong focus on ethical marketing evaluate their campaigns from a business perspective, ensuring advertisements are honest and trustworthy, building strong relationships with consumers through a set of shared values. 

Brands getting their marketing right

Here are some examples of businesses using ethical marketing practices in real-world scenarios.  

Patagonia:

Here are some of the better options, although there are hundreds of options out there.

When most brands are pushing massive Black Friday discounts and encouraging mass consumerism, Patagonia is thinking differently. In a holiday full of excessive consumption, they stand out as a beacon of eco-conscious values. 

In 2011, Patagonia placed a daring ad in the New York Times, with the provocative message; “Don’t Buy This Jacket,” urging consumers to rethink their Black Friday purchasing decisions. In 2016, they further cemented their commitment to sustainability by donating all Black Friday proceeds to environmental organisations. 

Interestingly, this unconventional marketing approach has not only supported Patagonia’s sustainability values, but has also had a massive financial impact. The company experienced a 30% revenue increase following their 2011 ad, demonstrating that ethical business practices can be both profitable and impactful. 

Medik8:

Medik8 is known for being transparent about the key ingredients in their skincare products, helping customers make informed decisions. They meticulously evaluate each ingredient for its efficacy, safety and environmental impact

Their products are cruelty-free and vegan, which means they are never tested on animals. This commitment to cruelty-free practices aligns with ethical marketing considerations in the skincare industry.

Medik8 products

Medik8 conducts an annual self-declaration, voice, and inclusion-focused survey. The feedback from minority groups guides their focus each year, with LGBTQ+ inclusion being a priority in 2023. 

Their dedication to minimising environmental impact drives continuous improvement such as transparently tracing the origins of their ingredients, in order to assess and mitigate risks associated with water usage, biodiversity, and deforestation.

Allbirds:

As one of the leading brands in sustainable shoes and clothing, Allbirds are no stranger to ethical advertising campaigns. A key message across all of their marketing messages is their commitment to prioritising environmentally friendly materials and production processes. 

Their advertising emphasises the use of renewable resources and the reduction of carbon emissions, reflecting a commitment to ethical and eco-friendly practices. 

This dedication to sustainability is evidenced in their advertising campaign partnered with Mythology for The Dasher – their first performance shoe, made sustainably with natural materials.    

What key ethical advertising principles can we take away from this?

1. Be transparent with the data

Being transparent with data is important for many reasons. One reason is that it builds trust. When people know that you are being truthful with the data, they are more likely to trust it. Another reason is that it allows for better decision making. If people can see how the data is being used, they can make better decisions. Finally, it is important to be transparent with data because it is the right thing to do.

2. Consider the environmental impact

When you are planning a campaign, it is important to consider the environmental impact of your actions. For example, if you are planning a printed media campaign, make sure to use responsibly sourced and recyclable materials, and avoid using harmful materials. If you are planning a digital advertising campaign, consider the processing power required to display your ads and ensure you choose ethical ad placements. 

3. Follow moral standards

It’s important to always follow moral standards in order to maintain a good brand reputation and respect from your target audience. Acting immorally will have negative consequences, ruining a brand’s reputation and causing people to lose trust in you. 

4. Treat buyers equitably

This means that you should provide the same information to everyone, and not give preferential treatment to certain buyers. It’s also important to be fair and not take advantage of potential buyers. By treating buyers equitably, you can build trust and create positive relationships.

5. Never compromise the privacy of consumers

Consumers are the lifeblood of the digital economy. If consumers do not feel safe sharing their personal data, they will be less likely to do so, which will have a negative impact on your businesses. It is therefore important to ensure that consumers’ data is protected at all times.

6. React against signs of unethical advertising

There are many types of unethical advertising, but some of the most common are false claims, exaggerated benefits, and misleading statements. React against any signs of unethical advertising by reporting it to the Advertising Standards Authorities.

7. Distinguish between different forms of advertising

There are many different forms of advertising, and it can be difficult to distinguish between them. Some forms, like television commercials, are very obvious, while others, like product placement, are more subtle. It is important to understand the different forms of advertising so that you can make informed decisions about which ones to trust.

8. Contribute to an open and honest advertising industry culture

We believe that in order to have a thriving advertising industry, we need to have an open and honest culture. This means being truthful with our clients, colleagues, consumers, and each other. It means admitting when we make mistakes and learning from them. And it means celebrating our successes together.

If you’re unsure whether your advertising practices are ethical, GrowRooms digital marketing team will be happy to help. We are specialists at helping sustainable businesses improve their online visibility through ethical marketing campaigns.  

 

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