unethical marketing

21 Real Examples of Unethical and False Marketing Practices for 2022

An appealing advertisement with a strong message can attract customers’ eyes and spark their interest to purchase the product. But sometimes, marketers do falter as there are example of unethical marketing that borders on deception.

unethical advertising

Understanding the dishonest strategies that marketers employ to spread a message is important for being an informed consumer of media

We’ve gathered 21 instances of unethical and false marketing practices for you to be aware of and steer clear of in order to prevent you from continuing down that road.

 There are various ways to sell your company, but none of these strategies will ever be morally acceptable.

Sadly, you can observe instances of these in action every day. Even in 2022, you can feel like you have lost sight of some instances. Let’s look at some actual examples of unethical marketing techniques.

Real Examples of Unethical and False Marketing Practices

1. Celebrity Endorsement

Whether you like it or not, using celebrities as brand ambassadors may be a risky and unethical marketing tactic. 

When celebrities endorse a product, their admirers are likely to use them without even reading any other reviews. They are unaware that these goods could potentially be harmful to them.

If you want a celebrity to endorse your product, think twice before doing so. Before permitting anyone to represent a brand, make sure to run a comprehensive background check on them. Better yet, don’t involve them at all.

2. Not-being Eco Friendly

The need for more environmentally friendly products is growing as a result of the times.

Ensure that you are properly advertising any environmentally friendly products your company sells. 

This is an example of unethical marketing. You should not advertise a product that is harmful to the ecosystem at all, instead, when you produce a marketing advertisement for your product, be sure to present all the information truthfully.

Your environmental claims should be supported, not just mentioned in marketing.

3. Negative Content

Ads with negative and gloomy content should be avoided, much like those driven by fear. Ads should aim to spread hope rather than cause additional misery.

It’s recommended to steer clear of negative and sad themes because negative content merely weighs down the mental health of potential customers who could come across your advertisement.

4. Stereotyping

Stereotypes should no longer be used in marketing campaigns. Don’t assert that blue is exclusive to men and pink to women. Both men and women can work as nurses and police.

Stereotyping needs to be left in the past, and you should use your marketing plan to assist people to be modern.

5. Body Shaming

Body shaming is when someone’s size is made fun of or humiliated. And given that definition, you already know that using it as a marketing tactic is unethical.

It seems that body shaming as a marketing strategy is still in use today.

Don’t be inconsiderate. Avoid using body-shaming to advertise a product. We all have different appearances. And that’s wonderful!

6. Sexually Suggestive Content

example of unethical marketing

As they say, sex sells. Although this was never morally right, to begin with, many businesses rely on sexually explicit content to attract customers.

Do keep in mind that advertisements are visible to everyone, including children. There might be others who find this type of conversation uncomfortable.

7. Discrimination

  Another example of unethical marketing is discrimination. It is prohibited by law and should never be used in marketing.

Think carefully before you create an advertisement. Before releasing any advertisements to the public, take a step back and make sure they won’t insult a particular demographic. Above all, never show bias.

8. Misleading Sale

Offering buyers significant discounts during a sale is a tried-and-true method of attracting customers.

The initial prices and the amount by which the item was marked down to qualify as a discount, however, aren’t even displayed by all firms.

Or it’s possible that the item wasn’t actually “marked down” in the first place and that the “discount” was just a marketing ploy.

If you are not at all lowering the price of your products, avoid using this kind of marketing strategy. Consumers will eventually adapt, particularly now that everyone has a social network account.

9. False Advertising

Your advertisements should always say what they do. Do not advertise a product with many claims. It is an example of unethical marketing.

Be sincere with the facts in the advertisement if there are any terms that the audience should understand at a look. Do not deceive prospective customers.

10. No Scientific Data

Always exercise caution when making health claims that are supported by empirical evidence.

Be a responsible marketer and always credit the source of any scientific data in your advertisements. Don’t deceive with incomplete information.

11. Exaggeration

It makes sense that we would want people to purchase our products, therefore we naturally want to sound as persuasive as possible in our marketing messages. However, exaggerating is not the proper approach.

Proofread the information you include in your marketing materials, and keep your facts clear and concise.

The best part is that you don’t have to make assertions that aren’t entirely true. You don’t need to oversell high-quality goods if you want to make a sale.

12. Hidden Fees

unethical marketing examples

Don’t advertise a product at a low price just to have hidden costs tucked away in the small print.

It is just unethical to trick clients into purchasing your product by adding extra costs that weren’t disclosed to them in plain sight. Be honest about it to avoid misleading customers.

13. Smearing Competitors

Even when it comes to marketing, be a good sport. It is unethical to attack your competitors’ products in an effort to advertise your own, as this tarnishes their reputations.

It’s beneficial for businesses to compete. The competition encourages change and development within a business.

So stay away from being a jerk and concentrate on how to sell your products without hurting rival businesses

14. Twisting Facts

When marketing their products, some businesses distort the truth. 

There are numerous marketing campaigns that promote their items without providing the correct information.

Do not be like them if you don’t want future consumer complaints. Any time you make a health claim, proceed with utmost caution.

Make sure that anything you say is supported by reliable data from a third source

15. Using Sex, Religion, or Politics

Politics, religion, and sensitive subjects like sex are best avoided while promoting a product.

Why? When you are conceiving an advertisement, it is best to avoid bringing up these sensitive subjects. For instance, depending on your political stance, you can lose interest of or alienate half of your clientele.

Many people have the potential to misread these messages, which might leave one feeling denigrated, marginalized, or harassed.

Use caution and refrain from utilizing these themes unless they are appropriate for your brand.

16. Plagiarism

Even though plagiarism is an example of unethical marketing, several businesses continue to engage in it.

Plagiarism, in a nutshell, is when you steal someone else’s advertisement. Imagine putting in the time and effort to design and create a marketing piece, only to have someone else steal it verbatim and pass it off as their own.

It’s one thing to be moved by a marketing message, but quite another to just replicate it verbatim.

Of course, it’s completely acceptable to model an advertisement. However, you must attempt to be original.

17. Spamming

unethical spamming

We are aware that marketing a product entails consistently grabbing consumers’ attention.

However, spamming is not the ideal strategy for reaching more potential clients. Unwanted calls or emails come to mind when we think about spammy marketing.

Of course, spamming has expanded to include sending endless texts and leaving numerous comments on web posts. These invasive marketing strategies repel clients rather than entice them. 

Customers will not appreciate being bombarded with emails about your product, especially if they have never given their permission for their email addresses to be used for marketing.

In fact, if you do this, you could face substantial legal repercussions.

18. Misleading Images

Have you ever placed an order for a burger from a fast-food restaurant after seeing one on television that looked delectable but arrived limp and lifeless?

The moment the burger is served and unwrapped, you will understand the complete disappointment that comes next.

 The worst kinds of deceptive images or illustrations fall under the category of fraudulent advertising, which carries a penalty of significant fines if proven guilty.

We understand that food styling and proper lighting are essential if you want your images to appear appealing. But make every effort to provide customers with the same level of visual acuity.

19. Employee Maltreatment

Even though it might not technically be a marketing plan, mistreating and intimidating your staff to have them produce an unethical advertisement for you in 2022 is not the way to market your goods.

Be considerate of your employees and work together to develop an advertisement that your entire business would be pleased to possess

20. Proper Credentials

When you publish an advertisement that makes scientific claims, be sure to collect quotes from sources that have the appropriate qualifications.

For instance, if you include medical information, be sure to receive it directly from a doctor who is licensed to practice medicine and has expertise in that field.

It is better to receive your data from reliable sources like these medical specialists because they have the necessary credentials, education, and training.

21. Scare Tactics

An example of unethical marketing is using scare tactics.

Ads that play on fear may be effective, but they are unethical. It seems ominous and can be a trigger for certain folks.

Instead, you might change the message to one of encouragement rather than fear. Encourage clients to research solutions rather than terrify them into buying your goods.


In addition to damaging your brand’s reputation and maybe putting you in legal trouble, unethical marketing can send the wrong messages about your goods and services.

This explains why you ought to stay far away from them.

Here’s to creating advertisements that are entertaining, moral, and genuinely inventive. When you have faith in the product, you don’t need to scrimp on quality or act unethically.

Frequently Asked Questions

An act that deviates from what is right or appropriate for a person, a profession, or an industry is deemed unethical behavior.

Unethical marketing activities may involve provoking anger or grief on purpose to influence consumer choices, employing scare tactics, focusing on the underprivileged, or misleading customers into purchasing a good or service.

Credit default swaps, mortgage-backed securities, hedge funds, and special investment vehicles are examples of unethical business practices.

Coca-Cola has faced allegations of unethical behavior since the 1990s including product safety, anti-competitiveness, racial discrimination, and many others.

Nestlé promotes baby foods aggressively and in violation of international marketing guidelines, which adds to the avoidable death and suffering of newborns around the world.

In the case of Diet Coke, Coca-Cola is using unethical marketing techniques and making deceptive advertising promises.

Products and services that any stakeholder considers could harm society as a whole are considered unethical.

They Include

  • Amazon
  • Asda
  • Nestle
  • Coca-cola

  • Paying for links to essential pages on your site.
  • Hiding information with a lot of spammy keywords so that only search engines can view it.
  • Posting links to your website in forums or blog comments.

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