Overview of the AMA Code of Ethics

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  • 00:00 AMA
  • 1:10 Ethical Norms
  • 2:25 Ethical Values
  • 4:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

The American Marketing Association has laid out ethical guidelines for its members to follow. In this lesson, we'll examine that code of ethics, including its two major components and how they can be applied in business.


Lorenzo is head of marketing for a pharmaceutical company. His job is to promote the drugs that his company makes in order to increase sales. Lorenzo is also a member of the American Marketing Association, often abbreviated to AMA, which is the professional association for the people who work in the marketing industry. The AMA has a code of ethics that includes ethical norms and values for its members to follow. But Lorenzo hasn't ever paid much attention to it. He considers himself a pretty good person and doesn't think that he really needs much guidance when it comes to ethics.

But recently, Lorenzo has run into a problem; his company is marketing a new drug that will help reduce painful headaches for many people. However, there are very serious side effects to this new drug. His boss has asked his team to market the new drug to the public but not to tell them about the dangerous side effects. What should Lorenzo do? Would it really be so bad to leave out the information about the side effects?

To help guide Lorenzo, let's look closer at the two major elements of the AMA's Code of Ethics: ethical norms and ethical values.

Ethical Norms

Lorenzo isn't sure whether to release marketing materials without warning about the side effects or not, so he goes to the AMA Code of Ethics. The first part of the code consists of three ethical norms, or standards of ethical behavior.

The three ethical norms are:

1. Do no harm: Lorenzo and other marketing professionals should make sure that their actions do not hurt others. If Lorenzo leaves out the information about the drug's side effects, it could harm someone who takes the drug without knowing that it might be dangerous.

2. Foster trust in the marketing system: Often the public is skeptical of advertisements and sales people. Because of that, it is important that professionals like Lorenzo work to uphold the positive image of marketing and sales and not to lead the public to distrust marketers. If he doesn't mention the side effects, that could make people wonder if all marketing campaigns are untrustworthy.

3. Embrace ethical values: Finally, the AMA believes that it is important for all its members to put into practice certain values to help promote ethics and ensure that the first two ethical norms, do no harm and foster trust in the marketing system, are followed.

Ethical Values

The AMA focuses on six major ethical values that its members are expected to embrace. They are:

1. Honesty: This does not only mean telling the truth. As an ethical value, honesty is about both not lying outright and not lying by omission. If Lorenzo leaves out information about the drugs dangerous side effects, he is not being completely honest with his customers.

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