Tom Ford Online Store Adverts

Background Information

Tom Ford is an online company that is known for provocative advertisements. It deals with selling cosmetics, jewelry, bags, shoes and clothes for both men and women. The adverts often feature naked male and female models (Akbareian, 2015). The business technique employed by Tom Ford exhibits male and female to an extent that the audience will only focus on their bodies rather than the products that the company sells. On the other hand, the company focuses much on showing female nudity than male (Akbareian, 2015). In one of the adverts, Tom Ford showed an image of a naked female celebrity with a bottle of cologne between her legs (Casely-Hayford, 2015). On the other advert, a naked woman was caressing and combing the hair of a man (Casely-Hayford, 2015). The adverts raised concern from the public who claimed that the company’s sexist adverts do much harm to the society.

  1. What is the ethical issue/problem, in one sentence? State this in the form of an ethical question a media practitioner would need to consider.

The ethical issue is that do Tom Ford’s advertisements sexually objectify women and focus on obscenity to gain the attention of the consumers?

  1. What facts have the most bearing on the ethical decision you must render in this case? Note: facts do not include ethical judgments at this point.
  • Tom Ford’s marketing campaign portrays how the society should perceive women.
  • The marketing campaign is relevant to the younger generation since they are used to seeing sexual adverts.
  • Tom Ford is continuing with its marketing campaign.
  • The controversial adverts from Tom Ford have drawn many critics from both the public and the media.


  1. Are there any other external or internal factors to be considered? (Economic, political, etc.)
  • Tom Ford needs to consider the cost it will incur in case the public file a lawsuit filed against such adverts.
  • The company needs to consider the interest of the society and their perception of the products.
  • We should consider whether the company is using sexist adverts to increase sales.
  1. Who are the claimants and in what way are you obligated to each of them? (List all affected by your decision.

The Society

Tom Ford is responsible for maintaining the culture and interest of the society. The online store company exhibits an extensive reach to the society through the media. The advertisements aired by the company hurt the society by making them believe that her physical attractiveness depicts a woman’s value. Tom Ford has a duty of non-injury and it is for the company to resist unethical business technique that promotes sex sells since it damages the reputation of women in the society.

Customers and potential customers

Tom Ford online clothing store sells products daily to millions of customers; therefore, the company is obligated not to take advantage of the human psychology and gain their attention through sexual adverts. It has violated its duty of non-injury to customers by disseminating obscene information that is morally unacceptable to the customers and even the public. For instance, one of the company’s adverts showed a bottle of cologne between the thighs of a naked female celebrity. Such adverts do harm to both male and female customers. Men will feel intimidated by the unconcealed display of unbiased sexuality from the media; hence making them feel like they are not masculine enough. According to Bivins (2009), the duty of non-injury implies that it is unethical to harm people either physically or psychologically.

III.    Youth

The world is composed of many youths who are not ignorant. However, they should not be exposed to provocative content such as the ones displayed by Tom Ford. Tom Ford is violating its duty of beneficence to the young generation. On the same note, it is promoting stereotypes when displaying negative body images. Similarly, the adverts affect the ethical body image standards that children should view. Tom Ford is promoting the objectification of women among the youths since they are easily influenced.

Advertising agency

Tom Ford is obligated to providing morally acceptable advertising campaigns to the advertising agencies. In the duty of gratitude, if a person did a favor to you then you have the responsibility to return the same favor to that person. For this case, the advertising agency provided a service to Tom Ford by creating the adverts. Therefore, Tom Ford has the duty of gratitude to the agency. The advertising agency created an advert that raised ethical questions although it got the instructions from Tom Ford. However, the agency is also portraying a bad reputation, and this will affect their future business. From the scenario, Tom Ford has failed to accomplish its duty of gratitude since it suggested an advert that was provocative.


Parents are always on the watch out when it comes to matter that concerns their children. They have the duty to protect their children by monitoring the messages from the media (Firestone, 2007). In a situation when a highly sexual advert is played in the media, most parents find it difficult to control their children since the content is streamed where children can get a glimpse of what is going on. Therefore, the company is failing to fulfill its duty of non-injury to parents. By harming the children, Tom Ford also hurts the parents. The adverts vividly explain that women are sexual objects in the society.

  1. What are the ideals? Note: ideals are values and behaviors based on them.
  • For you.

Freedom from harm (for the case of children, parents and male), respect for the society and enhance fairness, freedom of speech, freedom of choice and freedom of expression.

  • For the client/organization/profession.

Enhance profit, efficiency, productivity, and quality and customer service.

  1. Does any of these ideals conflict? In what order would you honor them?
  • The society and parents will favor an action to stop provocative advertisements by Tom Ford, and this will support the principle of majority rule.
  • Tom Ford’s responsibility to provide customer service to the society through sexual adverts will conflict with the ideal of respect for the society.
  • Customers, children and parents who might be victims of the adverts would claim that the company violates their right to protection. This will conflict with the community’s freedom of expression since they have the right to say what is right for them.
  • I will honor respect for the society as an ideal, ensure that my commercial adverts do not cause harm to the target audience and society. Besides, I will ensure that profitability is not the primary reason for my marketing campaign.
  1. What are your options, and which would be favored by each affected party? (List at least three.)

First, Tom Ford should continue with the advert. The advertising agency will favor this option.

Second, Tom Ford should stop advertising and issue an apology to the public. The company should state all its wrong doings and promise not to engage in such adverts in the future.  Tom Ford would gain trust from the society and satisfy its customers by correcting the issue and issuing an apology. The society, parents, customers and youths will favor this option.

Third, Tom Ford should re-create the commercial to represent the target audience. The advert should include middle-aged and middle-upper class business woman and man instead of provocative women. The advert will generate more customers for the company since both males and females will feel valued. The society will favor this option.

Fourth, the company should choose to use the same advert but show it at late hours of the night. This move will be useful since fewer youths would be exposed to the adverts. The advertising agency and parents will favor this option.

Fifth, Tom Ford should continue with the advert but without showing sexually suggestive actions. The society and parents will favor this option.

  1. Which options could cause harm to any claimant?

Any of the listed options could cause harm to any claimant. However, they will only differ in the degree of injury.

  1. Would honoring any of the ideals listed above invalidate any of your options?

The honoring of the ideals would invalidate the first option. The first option supports the idea of continuing with the advert, and this is against the interest of the society. The society needs respect to women and children.

  1. Are there any rules, principles or codes (legal, professional, organizational, or other) that automatically invalidate any of your options?

According to the creative code of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (n.d), they would not allow advertisements that provide statements, images or suggestions that are offensive to the minority group of the population or the public dignity. Similarly, an advertising principle states that advertising professionals have the responsibility to practice high personal ethics when creating and disseminating commercial information to the target market (Gordon, Kittross, Merrill, Babcock, & Dorsher, 2011). Therefore, this rule will automatically invalidate the first option that recommends the advert to continue.

  1. Which ethical theories and principles support or reject which options? Explain. (see Week 2 lecture for ethical theories and principles).

Ross’s prima facie duties are applicable in this scenario. The option to stop the advert and apologize to the public portrays the duty of beneficence. Tom Ford will be doing good to the public by taking down the marketing campaign and ask the public for an apology. Also, Tom Ford will portray the duty of non-injury when it decides to continue with the commercial advert but without showing sexually suggestive actions. The society, customers, children and the parents would not be psychologically tortured.

Egoism could be driving Tom Ford Company. The first option that recommends the company to continue with the advert allows the company to increase sales and generate more profit. Therefore, the egoistic manner of the company could be what drives this option.

Mill’s Principle of Utility is applicable since it seeks to yield happiness to a large number of people by determining what is right or wrong. The society, customers, children and parents represent a larger group; therefore, they will be happy when Tim Ford continues with the commercial advert without showing sexually suggestive actions. Therefore, this principle supports the fifth option.

  1. Determine a course of action based on your analysis.

Based on my analysis, the appropriate action would be to remove the entire marketing campaign from the television and any other media outlet. Since I am part of the society that is upset with the sexist adverts, the company’s spokesperson should apologize to the public about their controversial advert that has been in the media for years.

  1. Defend your decision in writing to your most adamant detractor.

Dear Tom Ford Online Clothing store,

As a member of an ethical consultant group, we have agreed that you should take the action of removing the commercial advert from the media and apologize to the public. Also, we considered the fact that Tom Ford is an entity that exhibits a vast influence on the industry and its target population. Therefore, your business is ethically obligated to serve the interest of the consumers. Concerning the ethical perspective, individuals or organizations that portray more power in any relationship are required to depict moral obligation to the weaker claimant (Bivins, 2009). In this scenario, the weaker claimant is the consumer of your products.

We anonymously made the decision based on utilitarian theory. When you decide to remove the provocative commercial, you will be serving the best interest of the society, and it also include Tim Ford. The company will benefit because the action you will take will create a new image to the society and the consumers will continue to accept the brand of your company. Second, many people have shown disapproval of the way you conduct your adverts. Therefore, removing it will benefit the society. Lastly, if you devote to positive branding by issuing an apology to the public, you will survive in this competitive market since you would have gained the approval from the customers. In conclusion, we recommend that you should hold a meeting and decide on either changing the advert or removing it entirely and this will safeguard the reputation of the company.



Akbareian, E. (2015, March 23). Retrieved March 28, 2016, from

American Association of Advertising Agencies. (n.d). New to our website? Retrieved March 28, 2016, from

Bivins, T. (2009). Mixed media: Moral distinctions in advertising, public relations, and journalism. Routledge.

Casely-Hayford, A. (2015, May 19). Top Ten Controversial Fashion Campaigns | HUNGER TV. Retrieved March 28, 2016, from

Firestone, J. M. (2007). Enterprise information portals and knowledge management. Routledge.

Gordon, A. D., Kittross, J. M., Merrill, J. C., Babcock, W., & Dorsher, M. (2011). Controversies in media ethics. Routledge.







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