Imagine launching a wildly successful marketing campaign, only to watch it crumble under the weight of unethical practices. While the initial results may be impressive, the use of dubious tactics can lead to a rapid downfall. From scathing press coverage and negative reviews to internal turmoil among employees, the consequences of unethical marketing can swiftly turn victories into significant setbacks. 

As a purpose-driven agency, we feel it is important for every marketing manager we work with to adopt an ethical marketing stance that they use to guide their company’s marketing strategy decisions. For our clients, we use our ethical marketing policy to build digital strategies with transparency, honesty, and integrity in mind.

B2C marketing managers oversee several key areas of a company’s brand. In developing the messaging, channel plans, and creative elements that sell products, marketing teams can create ethical strategies when they are built on a few key fundamentals of an ethical marketing policy: 

  • Honesty in Messaging
  • Practice Transparency 
  • Anti-Racism and Discrimination
  • Ethical Digital Advertising
  • Regulations and Guidelines

View or download Mad Fish Digital's ethical marketing policy.
Marketing Messaging Requires Honesty

The pressure on B2C marketing teams to generate revenue for shareholders frequently leads them to adopt increasingly extreme messaging and product claims. The value of every click becomes far greater than the truth about the product. Companies like Lumosity and Vitaminwater sacrificed honesty in messaging in the past and paid the price. Consumers now more than ever are holding companies to the messages they send. B2C marketing managers must set a standard for honest and accurate content in all forms. 

What does that mean?

It means that all claims made in any marketing materials are substantiated and backed up with evidence. It is also important that marketing messages do not contain false or exaggerated claims. Doing so gives customers a false impression of the product or service and can lead to distrust. Distrust does not sell products.

Only 34% of consumers trust the brands they use.
Customers Expect Transparency

Effective marketing messages equip customers with the necessary information to make well-informed choices regarding a product or service. Clear messaging and transparency on where dollars go and how products are made is a trust builder. The article, 3 Ways Marketers Can Earn — and Keep — Customer Trust from the Harvard Business Review, shares that 80% of consumers consider trust a major factor when making buying decisions. And yet they also say they only trust 34% of brands they use. 

There is clearly an opportunity for brands that are doing great work to improve sustainability in their manufacturing or ethically sourcing materials to build trust with customers. Brands like TOMS and Everlane are great examples of B2C brands combining their sustainable business focus and their ethical marketing messaging to build trust through transparency.


80% of consumers consider trust a major factor when making buying decisions.
Fight Against Racism and Discrimination

Marketing managers have an ethical obligation to create marketing strategies free of offensive, discriminatory, or otherwise inappropriate content. Content marketing teams, with an ethical marketing policy to guide them, evaluate copy and images through a lens of diversity and inclusion, as well as authenticity. Copywriting has a vital role to play in ethical marketing efforts. 

While the notion of writing anything free of offending someone seems daunting in this climate of divisiveness, it doesn’t have to be so. Strong fundamentals in marketing copy still apply here. Avoid bias. Know your audience. Understand their needs, concerns, and diversity.  Then write for them. 

PPC Advertising That Builds Trust

PPC (pay-per-click) ad spending is predicted to reach $190 billion globally in 2024. This powerful marketing channel is critical to the success of B2C brands. It is important that it also be executed with a level of clarity and ethical consideration. Ethical brands avoid targeted advertising that might be seen as intrusive or unethical. This is a big ask as the industry has more data to use to create customization. However, using these tools to create ethical paid media campaigns is possible. Having your paid media agency build a strategy with relevant targeting and ad frequency guidelines is the first step. Ethically focused paid strategies give customers a personalized approach without feeling overwhelmed by your message. 

As we step into a political year, companies must be mindful of how their paid ad campaigns may be construed in the broader online landscape. Customers want relevant ads. They want to hear from brands they care about. They may not want those ads on every platform or every day.  Thinking through the full impact of any paid media campaign is vital. 

Regulations and Guidance

Marketing managers are at the forefront of keeping brands compliant with the relevant privacy laws and regulations. This includes any local, state, or federal laws that may apply to the specific industry. Healthcare and education for example have specific legal frameworks to follow when it comes to marketing campaigns. It is also important to ensure that any digital marketing efforts comply with the relevant laws and regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

The marketing industry plays a key role in the ongoing promotion of ethical behavior online. By setting standards for how brands engage customers and promote products and services, digital marketing teams help build a productive sales environment for everyone. Through ethical marketing behavior brands will build trust with consumers and develop customer loyalty. 

For more on our approach to ethical marketing, visit our Code of Ethics Policy.