Seeking spoils from the millennial float : the emerging generation's implications for advertising ethics
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Ethics are too often an afterthought in the fast-paced, multi-billion dollar industry of advertising. How will the impending emergence of millennials as the dominant commercial demographic -- with their well-documented interest in altruism, social justice, and corporate social responsibility -- affect the state and status of advertising ethics? This mixed methods study employs focus groups and an experiment to answer this question, exploring broad millennial perceptions about advertising ethics and how they affect millennials' attitude toward brands, perceived brand ethics, and purchase intent. Findings indicate difficulty in divorcing advertising ethics from a more holistic sense of corporate ethics embodied by Brunk's Consumer Perceived Ethicality construct. Qualitative data hints at how this measure may be formed. Meanwhile, quantitative findings may simultaneously embolden and chasten advertisers who like to live on the edge of ethics -- depending, at least, on their target audience. The results suggest that millennials of differing ethical inclinations view advertising ethics very differently. Using Forsyth's Ethics Position Questionnaire, groups of varying ethical dispositions are analyzed. What these findings mean for the future of advertising and advertising ethics remains to be seen, but change should be expected with millennials' impending rise to economic, political, and social prominence.