Wrongful Advertising

Victoria Schoenlaub

7 min Read Time | August 10th 2021

Key Takeaways


False advertising can be fraudulent and/or misleading


In your analysis, describe what that product or services the company was wrongfully advertising.


It is important to assess the breadth, the depth, and the persistence of this false marketing to gauge the significance of the issue

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What is it?

Advertising is persuasive communication through different mediums with the aim to promote or sell a product, service, or idea.

Advertising that promotes or sells these entities in a deceptive manner is unethical. Consumers cannot make informed purchasing decisions when companies withhold or provide distorted information. This is known as false advertising.

It is described as “the crime or misconduct of publishing, transmitting, or otherwise publicly circulating an advertisement containing a false, misleading, or deceptive statement, made intentionally or recklessly to promote the sale of property, goods, or services to the public.”

There are three approaches to unjust advertising, depending on if they are one or more of the following components: fraud, falsity, and misleading.

Participating in fraudulent advertisements aim to deceive consumers. It affects decisions, but can also be positive in some instances when the product, service, or idea is more positive than what was being advertised.
False advertising can have inconsistencies in said facts. For example, cars can be promoted for being more environmentally friendly, having lower emissions with cheat or defeat devices.
Advertisements can be misleading, creating impressions that are untrue or inexistent, and impacting consumers’ purchasing decisions.



SDG Choice

Impact assessment

The introduction should provide information on how false advertising contributes either negatively or in some cases positively to society, and touch upon its three components “fraud”, “falsity”, and “misleading” of the product, service, or idea - even if it is not directly linked to the company itself. This will allow the reader to make educated assumptions about its impact.

Then, in the core of the analysis, describe what product, service or idea is wrongfully marketed by the company and its impact. As the company’s direct impact might not be researched, you may use studies as proxies.

Make sure to also take into account:

1/ The breadth of the impact

  • Is the impact local, national, or global?

  • How many people are concerned? Thousands? Millions? Billions?

As a rule of thumb, if it affects at least 1 million people, it is considered significant. Although, please bear in mind that this is not always the case, as, at times, it could be considered unfair to expect an impact to touch that many lives. Thus, this is flexible.

2/ The depth of the impact

  • Is the life of people concerned deeply affected, or does the issue just marginally impact them?

  • Are the changes brought by the issue profoundly changing society or the planet?

3/ The persistence of the impact

  • How long would the impact described last for? Months? Years? Decades?

  • How reversible is the impact described in the impact analysis? Can it be easily stopped/extended?

  • Can it be easily stopped/extended?


This topic differs from the topic Product Safety where a product hurts people because of a defect.


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