HomePhilosophia: International Journal of Philosophyvol. 41 no. 1 (2012)

Ethics of Business Ads Directed at Children*

Napoleon M. Mabaquiao Jr.

Discipline: Psychology, Marketing, Mass Communication



This essay shows why children advertising or business ads directed at children cannot be justified on moral grounds. It is argued that while the persuasive intent of business ads in general does not always lead to the manipulation of consumers, children’s yet undeveloped or general lack of the capacity to make autonomous, rational, or free and informed buying decisions renders business ads directed at them necessarily  manipulative. Accordingly, it is when ads are manipulative that they are unethical. And the absence of an internal mechanism in children to guard themselves against the possible manipulations of the ads directed at them renders the persuasive techniques of these ads as ways of taking advantage of their vulnerability.