Ethical questions get really tough when you start to intellectualize them.
Here’s a mock question? Should you allow tobacco companies to advertise with your company. This means exposing their brand and messaging to your community.
Here’s the dilemma…the evidence tells us that smoking causes cancer and host of other health problems, but the tobacco industry creates jobs and it’s a free country, people can smoke if they want to, so who are we to judge? Smoking related illness cost the taxpayer millions of dollars per year in healthcare resources and burden the already strained healthcare networks. That’s not a good thing right?
What about the cash these advertisers give you? You could use that money to experiment and build life changing products.
What about the optics? How much revenue will they bring in for the company? What is if it’s only 10% of total ad revenue vs. 50%? Is there a threshold % that makes it acceptable? By allowing these brands to advertise are you indirectly enticing more kids to start smoking?
Other companies take their money, why shouldn’t you?
See what I mean…it’s starts to get really sticky when you try to answer the question within an intellectual framework. You could probably justify a yes or a no answer.
Why not try something different? Ask your gut the same question with the following context – Are you making the world a better place by [insert question]. In other words are you contributing to a better world by advertising cigarettes to your audience. Avoid the temptation to define “better” or “world”, just ask yourself the question. Your gut will give you the answer. It may not be the answer you want to hear, but my advice would be to go with it.
When I don’t go with my gut on these things, I normally fall on my face.