Marketing, Technology and Ethics

An obstacle that educators may face when integrating technology to enhance marketing, public relations, social media and market research as a content area is to make sure the emphasis isn’t just using on the latest technology and social media but to use the technology in an ethical manner.

The advertising and marketing industry doesn’t always do the best job to  being ethical. See the video below. Advertising and marketing does has a history of selling products, choices and life styles that hurt and sometimes kill its consumers. This manipulation is discussed in Roblyer (2016, p. 341) in challenges in teaching social studies. Students need to know how to critically assess imagery and media and also how to ethically the media they create.

Now instead of pro-cigarette advertisements you’ll see #Catmageddon videos produced by The Truth part of the American Legacy Foundation.  This Washington D.C. based charity was created out of the Tobacco Industry’s lawsuit settlement with several states. Despite the cute video, this organization is not without controversy on how is now not naming the corporations that still produce and sell cigarettes.

There is another area that may happen even closer to home. We can now use technology to reach more people through online surveys like SurveyMonkey and Qualtrics. We can also easily go online to do interviewing and focus groups through technology such as Skype or other video conferencing with platforms like GotoMeeting or WeVideo. We have to keep in mind to do this ethically.

The most frequent violation of ethics I see is representation of non-research activities as research. I regularly see and hear educational institutions and non-profits pitch recruitments and fundraising in the guise of conducting research. This is a violation of the transparency portion of the Marketing Research Association Code of Marketing Research Standards.

In graduate school, I was first introduced to these two industry terms, frugging and sugging. It is very easy for someone trying  to help out a charity organization or school to do this without thinking there is any ethical consideration. Frugging is when you get a call, survey or interview that claims to be for research but ends up being an approach to fund raise for an organization or a person. Sugging is the same situation where after asking you questions about a topic for “research purposes” then tries to sell you a similar product or service or continues the discussion to the point where you are asked if you want help switching to another product or service.

Has this every happened to you? When we’re teaching marketing and integrating technology, we need to teach more than digital citizenship. We need to teach them how to be ethical marketers and global citizens.

The Truth, (2016, February 10). #CATmageddon [Video file]. Retrieved from

MRA Code Marketing Research Standards, (n.d.), Mareting Research Association,  Retrieved from

Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology Into Technology (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.


One thought on “Marketing, Technology and Ethics”

  1. Hi Kae! I liked how you incorporated so many videos this week for your blog post. These videos really helped drive home the idea of what you were presenting when discussing technology being used in an ethical manner. It is definitely tricky trying to teach the students what is appropriate “netiquette” online and also teaching them appropriate ethics like you had mentioned. I have never heard of the terms sugging or frugging so I learned something new! Thanks for the post Kae!


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