Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses. Reference the Discussion Forum Grading Rubricfor guidance on how your discussion will be evaluated.

Marketing Ethics and Children

Ashford University Discussion

Describe ethical considerations with regard to marketing to children. When the marketers’ pitch includes a cause component, such as a breakfast cereal that promises to provide breakfasts to undernourished school children, explain whether this is ethical or unethical marketing.  You must use the text and at least one additional scholarly source.

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[removed] Expand Mark as Unread discussion 5 week 2 Trudie Harris Email this Author 12/3/2015 7:59:40 PM

According to White (2012), the advertising industry claims that marketers are obligated to gain the trust of children and their parents; however, the parents have the responsibility of monitoring their children’s media habits and develop their consumer literacy. I agree with the advertising industry’s claim. Marketing plays a major part in our economy. Businesses that target their products or services toward children should be able to aim their marketing toward children. In the grocery store, you will notice that many of the sugary children’s cereal are located on the bottom shelf. This is because the cereal is at the same eye level as the children. This is a mild example of marketing toward children.

The example of marketing a breakfast cereal that promises to provide breakfasts to undernourished schoolchildren is supporting a good cause. Humanitarian efforts cost money. Weighing the risk and reward is how to determine whether an act is ethical. Parents need to monitor marketing toward them. After all, it is not the 5-year-old child going up to the checkout counter and getting out their credit card to buy these items. On the other hand, an example of using cartoon images to promote adult products, such as cigarettes, is unethical since there is not a legitimate positive outcome that outweighs the dangers that come from children smoking cigarettes.

Lately, fast food restaurants have come under scrutiny for marketing toward children and causing the obesity epidemic for children in America. A group that protests against McDonald’s, claims that McDonald’s pursues advertising to make children want unhealthy food. One study shows that food and beverage marketing targeted at children 12 yrs old and younger does lead to the children requesting higher calorie, less nutritious products (Krisberg, 2006).

 Many children consume these products; therefore, it makes sense for the company’s to market toward children. The parents needs to determine what their children consume. This starts with discipline for the parents, then the children. With the above examples, you can see where there is a fine line between ethical and unethical marketing. The example of cigarettes is unethical; however, the cereal and fast food product marketing, I believe are both ethical.


Krisberg, K. (2006). Food marketing toward youth contributing to unhealthy choices. The Nation's Health, 36(1), 19-19. Retrieved from

White, S. (2012). Principles of marketing.(1st ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.




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[removed] Expand Mark as Unread RE: discussion 5 week 2 Amanda Billings Email this Author 12/13/2015 12:24:04 PM

Hi Trudie,

I agree that there is a fine line between ethical and unethical marketing, and even more so when it comes to children. Like you, I also believe, in the case of food, that the parents should take responsibility for what their child is eating at home.

A few years ago, San Francisco enacted legislation banning toy giveaways in a children’s meal that was deemed unhealthy (Wilkey, 2011). McDonald’s was able to sidestep meeting the nutritional requirements set forth by the ban by charging the customer ten cents for the toy.

My personal view is that most online marketing to children for products that are not in their bests interests should be completely banned – products like sugary cereals, or violent video games. The online environment for kids is something that is difficult for parents to control, and technology is advancing so rapidly that marketers are able to find new and innovative ways to get their ads across to kids who shouldn’t be marketed to.

However, a McDonald’s happy meal is something else entirely. This is something that is 100% controllable by the parent. Furthermore, the parent doesn’t have to get the kid the food in the happy meal in order to get the toy – they have always been able to purchase the toy separately. Wilkey (2011) notes in his article that the supervisor that introduced this ban on toy giveaways cited the “pester power” of a young child (para. 2). This seems a little ridiculous to me, since I always thought the parent was the adult in this situation. The pester power of a child begging for a Happy Meal should be managed by the parent. That is why the adults have the money.

In the end, I think this just goes to prove your point about the “fine line” in marketing to kids. In some environments, I think it’s ethical, but in others, not so much.

Thanks for your thoughts!



Wilkey, R. (2011, November 30). San Francisco Happy Meal Toy Ban Takes Effect, Sidestepped By McDonald's. The Huffington Post.Retrieved from


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[removed] Collapse Mark as Unread Marketing Ethics and Children Amanda Billings Email this Author 12/8/2015 1:57:43 PM

To be honest, the first section of chapter 10 really hit home for me, because I am one of those people that really hates ads or sales people that try to get me to purchase something. I make an exception for kids raising funds for school or activities – I’m usually a softy for the kids! Otherwise, ads have never moved me in any direction other than their entertainment value. I am pretty much a marketer’s worst nightmare.

This feeling is exacerbated when considering ads geared toward kids – especially when the product being marketing is not in the child’s best interest. First of all, although kids to have the ability to get their parents to buy things for them, they’re not the ones with the money here. The adults are the ones with the money. Secondly, advertising things to kids is the equivalent of the marketers using the kids for sales. If you, as an adult, behaved badly to your partner, it would be wrong to ask the child to apologize on your behalf – that is something you should do yourself. Same concept applies to marketing. Add to the fact that much of the marketing for unhealthy food products or violent video games will do more harm than good for the kid, we are now into a whole new level of wrong.

White (2012) notes that in 1974, CARU was formed in order to protect children from blatant manipulation through marketing (sect. 10.1). That is all well and good, however I think this barely takes the edge off of the problem. A recent study found that “[m]any of the marketing techniques used on the Internet fall into the category of stealth marketing, which has been labelled unethical because withholding the identity of the sponsor, or not disclosing to a child that they are being marketed to, is fundamentally deceitful” (Mehta, Coveney, Ward, & Handsley, 2014, pg. 28). Clearly, CARU needs to update their resources and make more of an effort to apply their energy to online marketing.

In the case of marketing with a cause component, again, I fail to see why this should be allowed to be directed toward children. First of all, it is bad enough to make the child want their parents to buy something in order to do good for someone less fortunate (manipulation!), only to have the parents say “no” to their request and have them look like the bad guys. But worse than that is the fact that the marketers are stipulating that they are going to donate only if the consumers purchase something. To me, that is wrong – if the company wants to donate, then they should donate because it’s the right thing to do. Putting a stipulation on a morally right action is unethical in itself.

I do agree that there is a large responsibility on the parents to control and supervise what their children are exposed to. However, the parents cannot be present with the child 24/7, so putting the full responsibility of control on the parent is setting them up for failure. I believe marketers should have the right to try and promote their product – it’s a free country, after all – but leave the kids out of it when your product is not in the child’s best interest.


Mehta, K. P., Coveney, J., Ward, P., & Handsley, E. (2014). Parents’ and children’s perceptions of the ethics of marketing energy-dense nutrient-poor foods on the internet: Implications for policy to restrict children’s exposure. Public Health Ethics, 7(1), 21.

White, S. (2012). Principles of Marketing. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.


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[removed] Expand Mark as Read RE: Marketing Ethics and Children Instructor Upshaw Email this Author 12/8/2015 4:26:49 PM
  Hello Amanda,

Great details within your post!

With the use of new, kid-enchanting technologies, are savvy marketers gaining the upper hand on parents? Are toy marketers such as Ganz, food marketers such as McDonald's and kid-coddling apparel retailers such as 77kids by American Eagletoo eager to target kids?

It used to be so simple. A well-placed TV spot on a Saturday-morning cartoon show or a kid-friendly image on a cereal box was all it took. No longer. The world of marketing to kids has grown extremely complex and tech-heavy. Marketers that seek new ways to target kids are aware of new calls for federal action — including voluntary marketing guidelines that would affect food marketers. Kids, who are spending less time watching TV and more time on computers or smartphones, are becoming targets online.


Horvitz, Bruce (2011). Marketing to Kids Get More Savvy with Technology. USAToday. Retrieved December 8, 2015.

Professor Upshaw


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[removed] Expand Mark as Read RE: Marketing Ethics and Children Nathaniel Brown Email this Author 12/13/2015 5:09:24 PM


great post as I could easily and readily relate to what you posted here. This marketing to kids is absurd as this marketing to kids in essence hurts kids as parents are not going to buy into the same stuff they can feed to kids. As we are reasoning people and kids are not. I agree with your post and really enjoyed reading your work. Great post!


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[removed] Collapse Mark as Unread Week 5 Discussion 2 Festus Anyakudo Email this Author 12/9/2015 11:23:39 AM

Ethical considerations with regard to marketing to children.

Marketing campaign is a multi-million dollar business that is having a huge effect on the population, especially on our children.   We learned how organizations are using data mining techniques to analyze and make predictions about customer behavior, feed new product development, and create ongoing relationships with individuals. (White, 2012)  Marketers are adopting similar tactics by using psychological information from psychologist and others to effectively target children.  Rather than using the information from these professionals to help the children, they are using it to increase their profits.

I think it’s unethical to target children directly with marketer’s pitch that includes a cause component, such as a breakfast cereal that promises to provide breakfasts to undernourished school children.  This ad violates Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) guidelines, which address the level of children's knowledge, sophistication, and maturity, apply to all advertising in print, radio, and broadcast and cable television, and on the Internet directed to children under age 12. (White 2012)  There was nothing in the statements that suggests it was an ad for a breakfast cereal. 

Marketers are placing more food, beverage, fashion, and technology marketing campaigns on television, packaging designs, internets, and in-school targeted at children who are unable to distinguish between claims that are truthful and those that are just myth.  Some of these marketers are blurring the distinction between advertising and entertainment when advertising to children.  They see the children as their future market and direct ads at their favorite websites and television programs with the intent of developing brand loyalty.

Marketers have also started targeting our children’s stomachs.  Fast food companies like McDonald and Subways have developed slogans like “Happy Meals” and “Playtime: Powered by Veggies” respectively all targeted at children.  In response to the bad publicity from the increase in childhood obesity and diabetes, both companies have aligned with the first lady, Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity.  Subway has agreed to spend $41 million dollars to promote healthy-eating program aimed at children. 

The Federal Trade Commission requires that advertisements must be substantiated by a prior “reasonable basis” of fact and States require that ads must go a step above the law to ensure that consumers are treated appropriately.


White, S. (2012). Principles of marketing.(1st Ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

REBECCA A. CLAY, Advertising to children: Is it ethical?Some psychologists cry foul as peers help advertisers target young consumers. (2000)

Synder, Wally, Making the Case For Enhanced AdvertisingEthics. (2011) Retrieved from:



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