ethical choices. These ethical choices by nature do not lend
themselves to black and white options. If every choice was as
clear-cut as this, then there would be no need to discuss the
ethics of copywriting since every copywriter would know what's
'right' and 'wrong'.
One of the most basic choices is that of telling the truth. At
first appearance you may say it is obvious that the
copywriter should always tell the truth but what is telling the
One answer to this questions is that you should always tell the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This means that
irrespective of the consequences you should give the plain facts
to your readers. This reminds me a "Help Wanted" ad reportedly
ran in a London paper around 1900, which read:
"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long
months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return
doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success. Ernest
It is claimed that this ad for Shackleton's Polar expedition had
a surprisingly high response.
Now for discussion:
You're approached as a copywriter to sell a product that once
worked very well but is now losing it's effectiveness because
of a recent change, say in how the search engines rank sites.
The product creator has a history of very good results and
testimonials from customers--PROOF. Should you go ahead
and write this sales letter knowing that the method doesn't
work as well as it used to but using the former results as
Let us know what you think ...