Moral Advertising and marketing: Definition, Rules, & Examples

Moral advertising and marketing is whenever you promote a product, service, or model in a approach that aligns along with your values and morals.

On this information, we’ll discover the rules it encompasses and how one can incorporate them into your corporation. 

What are the rules of moral advertising and marketing?

This is determined by your rules and what you outline as moral—however to get extra concrete solutions, we spoke with some entrepreneurs and ran polls on Ahrefs’ and my personal Twitter accounts.

Listed below are 5 widespread themes that made our checklist:

Honesty and transparency

Being sincere and clear means not making deceptive, inflated, or unfaithful claims throughout the entire course of: manufacturing and supply of products and/or companies, employment practices, the worth proposition of your product, and extra.

As advertising and marketing advisor Maria Soleil places it:

The rules of moral advertising and marketing embody being accountable, sincere and clear in promotional actions, prioritizing knowledge privateness, not partaking in stress ways, avoiding utilizing UX darkish patterns, utilizing inclusive language, and extra.

It’s additionally about utilizing suppliers, companions, and platforms that align along with your morals and values. For instance, I not use Meta to advertise my enterprise, and am exploring how you can assist my purchasers be much less reliant on platforms resembling Fb and Instagram.

Right here’s one other definition that resonated with us:

Equity and respect

That is once more subjective. At Ahrefs, our concept of respect entails *not* operating adverts on our rivals’ names, whether or not by wordplay or in any other case.

Example of Salesforce running a Google ad on a competitor's name

Fairly, we deal with changing potential customers by our academic weblog posts, YouTube videos, tweets, and extra. 

Sustaining consumer privateness

That is primarily a subset of the above factors: honesty/transparency and equity/respect.

As an illustration, Ahrefs doesn’t use cookies or monitoring until vital. We additionally keep away from retargeting ways in our advertising and marketing campaigns—a mirrored image of our enterprise ethics.

This additionally feeds into why we constructed, a privacy-first search engine that rewards content material creators with 90% of advert income.

Listed below are extra inquiries to ponder, in Jamie Indigo’s phrases:

Is it moral to ask candidates to do hours of free labor for a possibility to be just right for you? As soon as somebody has interacted along with your marketing campaign, web site, or transformed, how does your corporation retailer that knowledge? Should you’re shopping for knowledge, how was it obtained?


Open communication and taking possession of your errors are two methods of sustaining accountability.

When fast-fashion behemoth Shein was tormented by accusations of unethical operational practices, the e-commerce firm tried to disprove the rumors by inviting influencers to its factories.

Alas, this backfired—and solely amplified Shein’s refusal to take accountability for its actions.


Sustainability signifies that environmental and socially accountable values are embedded in your corporation’s merchandise and practices.

Examples of corporations that have interaction on this embody Apple, Patagonia, Market Lane Espresso, Marou Chocolate, Freitag, and extra.

(We delve into these real-life examples under!) 

Advantages of moral advertising and marketing

Moral advertising and marketing breeds belief amongst potential prospects.

For instance, Apple has centered closely on privateness in its promoting efforts in recent times:

And it appears to be working—if this latest ballot by my colleague is any indication.

However “belief” isn’t the one good thing about so-called moral advertising and marketing. It will probably additionally result in optimistic publicity and backlinks.

In line with Ahrefs’ Website Explorer, Apple’s Environment web page has backlinks from ~4,400 referring domains (linking web sites):

Apple's Environment page has backlinks from 4.4K referring domains, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

If we head to the Backlinks report and dig deeper, we discover that many of those are optimistic mentions of Apple in well-known publications. 

Right here’s one from the BBC about Apple’s name to ban hazardous supplies from its manufacturing strains: 

Backlink from BBC to Apple's Environment page, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

And right here’s one from an op-ed piece in The New York Occasions about local weather change: 

Backlink from NY Times to Apple's Environment page, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Backside line? No matter what you concentrate on Apple (it’s drawn flak for some of its opaque practices in recent times), its dedication to moral advertising and marketing has constructed client belief—an immensely useful asset in such aggressive markets.

Extra examples of moral advertising and marketing

To offer you a extra well-rounded overview of what moral advertising and marketing encompasses in follow, listed below are 4 extra real-life examples. 


Moral advertising and marketing at Ahrefs appears to be like a bit of totally different than Apple’s:

We inform it prefer it is

We by no means oversell the utility of our toolset. 

If it meant forcing a product pitch into our content material, we’d quite not embody it in any respect.

Example of how we remove forced product pitches from our blog posts in the drafting stage

Giving again

In 2022, Ahrefs’ founder Dmytro Gerasymenko launched a donation-matching initiative in a present of assist for Ukraine. For any quantity an Ahrefs buyer donated to an authorized charity in Ukraine, we prolonged their subscription for double of that.

This resonated with many subscribers and gained us natural mentions on platforms like Twitter, in addition to media mentions—despite the fact that it actually hadn’t been the goal of our donation-matching marketing campaign.

Whereas we’re humblebragging, we additionally funneled $200K into sponsoring podcasts, newsletters, movies, and extra in December 2021. The transfer generated a number of optimistic publicity:

Marou Chocolate

One other tasty addition to the checklist is considered one of Asia’s most well-loved bean-to-bar manufacturers: Marou Chocolate. 

The Vietnamese-based firm maintains an in depth eye over the complete chocolate-making course of, from working with Vietnamese cacao farmers by to overseeing the manufacturing line.

Such is its dedication that it publishes detailed stories on its sourcing course of, the way it helps small cacao producers, and extra.

Table about cacao sourcing

If this isn’t transparency, we don’t know what’s. Have a read—it’s fascinating stuff.


Out of doors clothes label Patagonia’s mission statement is straightforward:

We’re in enterprise to avoid wasting our house planet. 

Sounds unrealistic? In reality, the model is properly regarded for conserving true to its phrases and is a stable instance of how sustainability is embedded in moral advertising and marketing.

Patagonia ad with the words "Don't buy this jacket"

The model additionally donates 1% of its income to nonprofit environmental organizations below its self-imposed Earth tax.

These efforts are extensively cited too. Try its backlink profile in Ahrefs’ Website Explorer:

Backlinks to Patagonia's Activism page, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Market Lane Espresso

How may my private favourite not make the checklist?

Market Lane Espresso is an Australia-based specialty espresso roaster and retailer, and I’ve all the time been a fan of its dedication to equity, transparency, and sustainability.

It has dedicated pages on how these values are put to follow. Wordy as these are, it provides you a greater sense of the way it’s strolling the speak:

Market Lane Coffee's explanation on how it practices its values

That rounds issues up!

Moral advertising and marketing is such a fancy matter that condensing issues proved to be a problem, so I’d love to listen to your ideas on Twitter

What is moral advertising and marketing?

Moral advertising and marketing is whenever you promote a product, service, or model in a approach that aligns along with your values and morals. This implies not making inflated claims, practising transparency and openness, and extra.

What are the rules of moral advertising and marketing?

The 5 key rules of moral advertising and marketing are honesty and transparency, equity and respect, sustaining consumer privateness, accountability, and sustainability. It will probably contain different rules too, relying on what you outline as moral.

What’s the distinction between moral and sustainable advertising and marketing?

The distinction between moral advertising and marketing and sustainable advertising and marketing is that moral advertising and marketing promotes a model’s values and morals, whereas sustainable advertising and marketing promotes environmental and socially accountable values. 

Is sustainable advertising and marketing the identical as moral advertising and marketing?

No, it isn’t. Moral advertising and marketing promotes a model’s values and ethicals, whereas sustainability is an instance of a model worth. Subsequently, it’s a subset of moral advertising and marketing.

Simple visual showing sustainability as a subset of ethical marketing