Ethical Dilemma: Advertising Case

In the turn of the 21 century, business people are at a crossroads. They need to decide the kinds of professionals they are going to be, that is, are they going to be honest and fair and deserving of the public’s trust, or are they going to push their own agenda and expect the government to step in and be a form of moral prefect.

In the presented case, thestakeholders in thesituation consist of not only the spring water consumers, but also the employees, the company investors and shareholders, the community where the company is located, other industry players such as bottlers of spring water, the press, andthe government through its regulatory agencies, as well as the society as a whole.Since the probability of harm to the consumer is negligible, the stakeholderswho have the most to losewould be the employees, the investors, and other companies involved in the bottling of spring water whomight see the image of their industry damaged.

With regards to a company’s financial position influencing the ethicality of a company, the financial situationof the company to a large extent determines how ethical decisions are made.That is the company’s financial situation would have a significant bearing on an ethical dilemma. If a company has a good bottom line, it can sacrifice funds to be spent on a noble and gallant gesture. However, if the company’s financial position is in a precarious position may be as a result of a debt burden, or grappling with finances to break-even after an employees strike as in the presented case, it is much harder to take steps towards doing the right thing.

There is little choice in this case in terms of what strategicmeasures should be undertaken. The company has to recall the bottled water that has been contaminated.This is not only because it is the right thing to do, but also for the reason that the company’s public image would be negatively affected in the occasion that the public ever discovers the problem. Whereasthe step might have negative results in the short term to the company by addressing the problem, a recall would bethe most moral, sound and ethical management strategy for the long term. There are chances that the spring water company might surface ahead of the competition by publicizing a recall for the reason that: ‘The water was not pure by the company’s standards, and even though the probability of harm to the consumer is negligible, the company would not risk hurting the customer for any reason.’This may further the company’s reputation and public image by portraying a picture of transparency and honesty, trust and dedication to high quality products, factors which Katherine & Trevino(2010) identified as top in the public’s assessment of a company. Thus, a good strategy might include asking the advertising agency that was tasked with developing the new ad campaign to come up with astratagem that would facilitate the recall.



Katherine, N. A., & Trevino, L. K. (2010). Managing Business Ethics (5 ed.). John Wiley & Sons.