Marketing communication, which plays an important role in selling products, is undoubtedly shaping audience attitude within its numerous tools. Marketing communication is divided into separate elements: promotion sponsorship, public relations and advertising . All of these could be carriers of product placement. However, by using some of these elements to send message to audience, some ethic issues may occur.

In this report, based on the definition of product placement , the theories of business ethic will be used to give the discussion of the ethic issues .There are four arguable points in the marketing communication--- the products’ nature, whether the advertisements are telling the truth , the audience of targeting and the way of expressing the message to audience. During the discussion of these four processes, recent examples will be used to illustrate the ethic issues. The definition and the recent development of product placement As the result of increasing commercial needs, a diversity of methods are used in nowadays marketing communication.

In the past, audience might clearly know that what has happened when they received the message. Directly promotion commercial could be seen in these traditional media: newspapers, magazines, on TV or radio (Shimp T A,2010) . Sometimes we also notice other new media such as website pop-up advertisements . Gradually a new type of “hidden” promotion is rising . In that type of promotion we accept the message without realizing it is a commercial.In the latest film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,when the three wizards “landed” on London city center, Samsung billboards and a Barclays' logo was suddenly appeared in audience’s field of vision for 2 to 3 seconds----that is so called “product placement” Product placement is a communication tool that put the commercial insertions into culture vehicles.

(Lehu J M, 2007). Any instrument which could express the product benefit could be the vehicle of product placement. The early development of product development was appeared in radio and TV program with only sponsor.The introduction of the magazine concept of product placement in the 1950s (Galician M L,2004).

During the recent decades, rising use of product placement are concerned by both business companies and the society ethic researchers. Business Ethics theories Through the business, results and profits are the most significant things. When when it comes to ethic there are two types of business ethics: consequentialist ethics and non-consequentialist ethics . The consequentialist ethics could be divided into two parts :egoism and utilitarianism.Non-consequentialist ethics, which focus on the activities during the business ,contain the duty-based theories ,deontological theories and theories of rights and justice. ( Crane, A and Matten, D.

,2007) . Based on these theories , several ethic issues of product placement are needed to be discussed Ethical issues to be considered in product placement From the definition of the business ethics ,it could be referred to the result of human value’s feature. To judge whether the business is ethical or not, the first step is predicting the result of the real business activity then suppose how it should be.After that Comparing with the practice in reality. ( Donaldson T, Werhane P H, 2002). When it comes to the product placement in marketing communication, the evaluation needs to focus on four parts: what products are being selling? Whether the companies are telling the truth? Who are the message sending to and how these companies express the message to audience .

Rising ethic issues are derived from these parts. Products nature In Consequential ethics, it is ethical to sell anything by product placement marketing. Because the utilitarianism of product maker is just pursue the maximum profits.In order to achieve this goal , any approach could be used to help the marketing .

However, from the angle of customer’s healthy rights, results become complicated. When the "Mysterious Alien Creature" –“MAC” told audience the only food they required were Coke and Skittles. In that film ,most of the audience obviously remembered the coca cola. As a “TV-commercial like” film, Mac and Me also contains the McDonald's product placement advertisement.

Whether audience like it or not, the director had made them remembered these brands successfully. Apparently, nowadays, junk food’s advertisements have already occupied our lives.Their strong financial strength provide them push their advertisement anywhere ,in anyway. Coca cola spend around 4000-5000 million on advertising every year. (FAME, 2009). It is well known by us that these types of soft drink will cause a series of weight problem, especially to children.

But we have nothing to do with them. Another example is the cigarettes advertisements. According a variety of advertisements and public relations, cigarettes advertisements always express the message on social acceptability but ignore the truth of the products will harm customer’s health. Barden et al,2007).

However cigarettes advertisements has been banned on TV programs for a decade years, several cigarettes brand such as Marlboro and Mild Seven still use internet to add their product placement. Even they just flash a logo or used by people in clip, it could affect the audience . In China’s Spring Festival Gala, lots of alcohol product placement sponsorships are put on the background of the stage or into the comedy skit. As the sponsors, the brand’s logo will turn up on the emcee’s microphone to aware audience their products. Telling the truth? Or a deception?It is a deontology to tell the truth to audience.

It means both advantages and disadvantages of product are needed to show in advertisement. However, aim to reach the competitive edge, some advertisements choose not to tell the truth or just reveal a part of truth. Any advertising provide fake appearance of product or deliberately misguiding the customer to trust non- existent benefit to purchase. This is deception . ( Varey R J,2002).

From a mass of the TV opera and films , abundant of brands successfully build their brand identity and product image within the epitasis.In particular product placement, it seems the product overcomes the ordinary function, turns to be more durable and attractive. There is a soap opera in China named The myth . In that opera, the leading role ,an archaeologist ,brought a Samsung mobile phone travel through the history, came to the Qin dynasty.

Obviously the Samsung company was the biggest sponsor of this soap opera. The archaeologist holds his cell phone during several close battles, drop from the Cliffside. Even after fell into river, his amazing cell phone still could be used.Every time when his Samsung ran out of electronic, he used his invention--- hand dynamo to charge up it. In that opera ,the mobile phone never broken ,never out of signal. And the multiple function of the mobile phone also astonishes audience.

But in fact ,it is not true for this product. Supposing I as an audience that never brought a mobile phone or short of information on that field, the opera absolutely makes me believe that Samsung is the best mobile phone brand in the world. As a potential customer, after saw that story they will totally confirm to buy that mobile phone.A part of the audiences do not trust the function in TV of that mobile phone is as same as that in reality.

Nevertheless they still remember that type of mobile phone and the brand---Samsung . That make them might go to store to try that mobile phone in following week. That is to say, from commercial, it is a successful product placement. But as an ordinary audience, are we misleading by these products placement in soap opera ? Is that another type of deception? Targeting--who are they send message to? The audience, whom receive the message from a variety of commercial, could be divided into several different groups.Ethic issues often occur when companies target to the “Vulnerable” population . That group of population are harmed and influenced easily.

(Bartlett A ,Preston D ,2004). Some factors in product placement marketing will damage the person in poor physical term, disadvantaged Social terms or cognitive terms undoubtedly. Encouraging the incorrect behavior or treating disadvantaged social group in an impolite way , also cause the ethical problem ( Varey R J,2002). It is considered to be a disguised exploitive When cigarette or alcohol companies targeting economically disadvantaged consumers.

Thus a lot of people expressed a vehement protest to the commercial of cigarette and alcohol companies (Shimp T A,2010) The most representative population of cognitive term is children group. Currently, the audience always contain a special group—children. Like a dry sponge , children are easily to teach or copy from what they saw. That is so called “consumers training” . In that way, a number of cartoon films persuade children to interest in their product without difficulty. The most successful example is Popeye the sailor man.

The sailor man is short and balding.But his ugly also become his special identify. He appeared to be a fiery hero. With his responsibility and his ethic principle in the age of great depression of American, he was remembered by audience. In that comic, every time when Popeye ate his canned spinach, his strength was doubled.

That made American’s canned spinach sales increase 33% in 20 century 30’s. Even the children who were usually sick of spinach turned to be fond of eating that. The message deeply rooted in children’s mind : If you eat spinach as Popeye ,you will become as strong as Popeye .In order to be a super hero, they were “treated” to eat a special food .

A canned spinach company, as the sponsor of that comic, got incredible effect by that product placement comic. That product placement’s great effect last for nearly a century till now. However, not so much products are healthy as the spinach. Nowadays most of the junk food companies use product placement to target children that makes parents complain that it not only harm the children’s eating habit, but also shaping their buying attitude, increase the demands of children consumption.How children influenced by product placement? Children are affected by product placement in their food choice and eating behavior.

It’s significant for children to have a balanced dietary structure thus they could keep a healthy growth . Over the past ten years. , children are more likely eating out, have more soft drinks and snacks . (Gleason P, Suitor C). As an essential factor which influent child’s eating habit is advertisement.

As on child’s watching behaviors, a child spend one eighth time of on watching TV everyday and receive thirty thousand commercials every year.Playing an important role in children’s entertainment ,TV programs and films turn out to be the most popular marketing channel of targeting children . From last decade, more that two thirds TV program contain the food product placement . (Mintel,2005). Most of product placements are for junk food and soft drink brand However egoism of product makers leads them to use different marketing tool to reach their target audience. As selling a product which might harm children, the company turns to choose another tactical.

They avoid the direct advertising, using product placement as the channel which children could easily get into.How they express the message to audience For the audience, their rights need to be respect . That is the basically ethic for marketing communication. There are three ethic judgments standards: The advertisement should not create a thought ,try to use the thought to educate the audience , induce their demands .

Additionally, the company or advertisement need to make audience realize that is a commercial when they are seeing. As well as that do not force audience to accept message (Nebenzahl and Jaffe,1988). However, in recent mass of product placement, these issues are extensive abused violate.Rights of autonomous selection Several notions are put into the daily commercial Actually they are created by sponsors to encourage the customer’s desires and turn out to be an “activity control”. Some advertisements try to educate people who they are and what they want to be (Arrington R L,1982).

In some films ,they always train the audiences by the role model’s choice . In the latest film go la la go ! in China, the heroine always told her friend :there are two ways for lady to relax the pressure eating and shopping . After she quarreled with her boy friend she bought a Mazda MX-5 roadster for herself.She said a senior white-collar young lady is worth having it. According to her words , she expressed a message to audience -- Mazda MX-5 roadster is a symbol of senior white-collar.

Another example is in sex and the city ,Carrie is positioned as a fashionable and Imaginative Columnist, so she use MAC book to do her writing job. That TV series also makes the product placement of MAC book successfully induce the desire of these women who want to become fashionable and intellective. Product placements in such films always create the irrational desire and purchasing of woman.Some customers complain that they are frequently buy a abundant useless thing due to these advertisements. Rights of to be informed There is a right of customers: to know whether the messages they received are sponsored by some commercial motivation. That is also a part of fundamental human rights.

To inform the audience these TV programs are commercial, the UK government suggested to place a warning logo on the program and film which contain the product placement. The disguise advertising just pretend to be accidentally flash to audience’s view . It often appears in film and without informing audience it is sponsored by a commercial source.It’s another way of cheating the customer with hiding the sponsor .

Unknowing that communication actually is a paid advertisement, the customer’s Rights of to be inform are violated. That type of product placements should be considered as unethical (Nebenzahl and Jaffe,1988). Rights of unconstrained Sometimes audience is forced to accept the Obtrusive product placement during their leisure time. It could be found at most of the sports game and TV show the logos and the products are crowed in the background and attract the audience.

However some products are not related to the content.It is obtrusive product placement. There are mass of complains about that type of product placement . The Obtrusive product placement makes a diversion during the audience seeing the main content. Furthermore, audiences feel their joy of watching TV are destroyed by that meaningless product placement.

That also reduces the effects of advertising. To protect the privacy of customer is also a responsibility of the sponsor. In several product placement, in order to achieve the interactive advertising effect, individuals become a part of advertisement without knowing what has happened .They privacy are exposed to public without their permission. Another situation is , database marketing. When the companies use previous customer’s data to create new product placement advertisement, the previous customers’ privacy are become resource of commercial and transfer into a product placement advertisement express to public.

Discussion of targeting in product placement is it benefit to market or harm society ? In several discussions on product placement, most controversial issues are focusing on the targeting.Someone insist that targeting, instead of letting consumer choose the product meet their demands, is to find the weakness of some special group, affect them by product placement marketing. It is, in another way, damage the profits of special group to benefit product maker . From the consequentialist ethics, especially on the egoism, it is ethical.

The result of targeting is good to the company itself and the product market. It is also an utilitarianism the act itself has a great contribution to marketing and profits . But it could be unethical when judging by the duty –based theories or rights and justice theories.The acts of them ,During the product placement marketing ,are violated the basic obligations of human. Moreover , it will harm the basic rights or some other rights of customer. It is not easy to say product placement marketing should be banned.

Increasingly competitive market brings out more marketing communication tool that make profits for product makers. Someone consider using product placement in marketing is damaging the whole social communication environment it leads the increasingly ethic problems and waste the social media resource .However it is take immense profits to the business . Product placement also provide another channel for marketing communication. The crucial issue is how to use the product placement in a reasonable way and control it.

Once audience realizes their rights is respected, they will accept the message better. As a threat to ethic, possibly it will attack the standard of ethic. But the standard is changing as the human needs developing by the time. In another way, it is possible that one day business will make us to redefine the standard of ethic.