Treading on that Fine Line? - Caselets in Marketing Ethics

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Case Details:


Case Code : MKTG186 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 300;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 300 + Shipping & Handling Charges extra


Marketing Management/ Marketing Ethics/ Ethics in Advertising
Case Length : 14 pages
Period : 2006-2008
Pub Date : 2008
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Emami Ltd.; Pfizer Inc.; Facebook.
Industry : Fast Moving Consumer Goods; Pharmaceutical; Social Media.
Countries : India/ USA


This is a series of three caselets featuring some specific incidents in three companies that had led to some ethical concerns being raised against them. While in the case of Emami Ltd. (Emami) and Pfizer Inc. (Pfizer) ethical concerns were raised regarding the marketing of their products 'Fair and Handsome' and Lipitor respectively, Facebook was in the eye of the storm due to its new ad revenue model that provided other online advertisers with a new social media to market their products to Facebook users.

The first caselet discusses the long standing debate on the ethics of marketing and promoting skin-lightening products with reference to the launch and advertising of Emami's 'Fair and Handsome', a fairness cream for men, and the decision of the company to rope in Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan to endorse the product.

Both the company and the actor were heavily criticized for promoting a product that allegedly strengthened harmful stereotypes and age-old prejudices that equated fair skin with good looks.

Marketing Management Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Marketing Management, Case Studies

The second caselet is regarding the world's largest pharmaceutical company's marketing of the world's largest selling drug Lipitor.Critics contended that Pfizer resorted to off-label promotion (which was illegal and unethical) to drive up the sales of Lipitor to such gigantic levels.

The third caselet discusses the ethical and privacy concerns pertaining to Facebook's new ad system.


• Understand the ethical issues involved in marketing, advertising and promotion of products and services.

• Identify the need for establishing standards in marketing and promoting products and services.

• Understand the growing social criticisms and the need for awareness in promoting/advertising a product.

• Understand the ethical issues in using celebrity endorsements to promote a product and commercializing of social networking sites.


  Page No.
Caselet 1: Emamis Marketing of Mens Fairness Creams 1
Caselet 2: Pfizer's Marketing of Lipitor 4
Caselet 3: Facebook's Ad Platform 7
Exhibits 10


Marketing ethics, Fairness creams, Advertisement, Marketing Communication, Pfizer, Lipitor, Off-label, promotion, Online industry, Strategy, Blockbuster, Promotion, FMCG, Emami, Beacons, Social networking, Fair and Handsome, Facebook, Privacy, Social Media

Caselet 1: Emami's Marketing of Men's Fairness Creams - Next Page>>


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