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Whenever marketing to children, many ethical considerations must be made. Ethical
considerations surrounding marketing to children are important, as children are impressionable
and do not have the developed reasoning skills and capabilities that adults possess (Hoyer, and
MacInnis, 2010). In other words, because these skills are not developed in children, they are
likely to believe what they are told, even if it is impractical or untrue. Therefore, before any
marketing to children is conducted, marketers must step back, analyze whether their campaign is
socially responsible, and if it is ethical.
One example that calls into question the ethics of the marketing campaign, is when a
breakfast cereal promises to provide breakfasts to undernourished school children. There are
some individuals who would argue that this is unethical, while others would argue that such a
campaign is ethical. The cause component of this campaign brings to light an important subject
or topic—undernourished school children. Providing breakfasts and meals to these children is
ethical and is something that should be provided. However, if the company that manufacturers
the cereal is only making the claim and not actually following through on the promise, than
the campaign is unethical (Shaw, 2008). It would be unethical because the company is making
a promise and convincing individuals (mothers and children) to purchase the product on the
pretext that the company is also providing other school children with nourishing breakfasts.
Failure to follow through on this promise means the advertisement contains false pretexts, and
therefore is unethical.
The question of ethics also arises, depending on what kind of cereal is being promoted. If
the cereal is a whole grain cereal that is low in sugar and actually healthy for you, the campaign
would be considered ethical. However, if the cereal is sugary and unhealthy, making claims that
it will provide breakfasts to undernourished children is unethical, as the product its self, which is
breakfast, does not provide nutrition.
In conclusion, it is essential that marketers carefully considered multiple aspects of
their messaging. Their messaging must be ethical and true. Given the impressionable nature of
children this is of the utmost importance. The messages that children are given can make lifelong
impressions, and carefully crafting messages in a positive and ethical manner is the only socially
responsible thing to do.

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