UNIT 3: Selling, Marketing, and Advertising
• Unit Background/Author Perspective
• Module 12: “Best Case Scenario” Ads
• Module 13: Quickly Flashed Fine Print
• Module 14: Using Fear to Sell
• Module 15: Celebrity Endorsements
• Module 16: Marketing Unhealthy Food to Children
• Module 17: Children and Violent Video Games
• Module 18: Ethical Selling: Labeling Sleight-of-Hand
• Module 19: Marketing in the Public Schools
Unit Background/Author Perspective
Most businesses play to win, at least most of the time. They seek to sell as many products
and services as possible. And marketing is an essential part of the game. The best product in the
world won't sell if no one has heard of it.
Companies enjoy a healthy (but not unlimited) amount of First Amendment protection
when they seek to communicate with customers. One might argue that the Founding Fathers did
not have corporations in mind when they created the right the free speech, but the courts
disagree. Although human beings have “more” speech right than organizations, companies are
covered (at least in this way) by the constitution.
The right to free speech allows companies to be fairly aggressive in advertising its wares.
Because the constitution is above everything else in the legal system, the government often can't
pass laws that would place significant new restrictions on marketing campaigns. Businesses are
therefore often left to decide for themselves how to sell, because the law often fails to set any
So, when does a company cross a line and act unethically? What is the difference
between an acceptable ad campaign and one that is manipulative? Companies always try to paint
their products in a favorable light, but can this go too far?
This unit examines disclaimers, fine print, and “best case scenario” ads. One module asks
whether it is “right” to use a celebrity to endorse a product that the celebrity does not use. Two
modules examine ads targeted at children. Another looks at deceptive product labels. The last
module in the unit looks at marketing in public schools. If you think that it stops with soda
machines, then you don't have a child between the ages of 5 and 17.
The central issue in the unit is this: If a marketing campaign is the most profitable option,
is it necessarily a “good” option for selling products?