Ethical Issues In Business: Ackerman Vs. Coca Cola

1591 words - 7 pages

Ethical Issues in Business: Ackerman vs. Coca Cola
Coca Cola was brought under scrutiny and to court by Ackerman, filing in the United States District Court in the Eastern District of New York {Ackerman v. The Coca-
Cola Company and Energy Brands Inc. (d/b/a Glaceau), Case No. 09-cv-0395) (Brison, 2012). The suit compiles a class action suit from the states of New York, New Jersey, and California. Thirteen allegations are identified with three dismissed. We will be discussing the issue at hand, what the basis of the suit is and ground rules, ethical issues, how Coca Cola’s leadership conduct affected the company, and the changes needed.
The history of Coca Cola dates back to the 1886 when ...view middle of the document...

According to Brison, “The Coca-Cola Company prides itself on responsible marketing and is dedicated to providing information consumers can trust" (Brison, p 195, 2012). However, Ackerman claims that the public will be mis-lead to believe this product only contains vitamins and water as the name represents. According to Brison, Ackerman poses the ethical question; if consumers are looking for a healthier alternative to soda will they be deceived by this new product that contains nearly 33 grams of sugar (Brison, 2012)?
The class action lawsuit, Ackerman v. Coca Cola, deals with many ethical dilemmas, and the result may have significant effects on the perceived character of Coca Cola. The stakeholders involved with this lawsuit are obviously Coca Cola Corporation, Ackerman, and consumers. Also, depending on the outcome, professional athletes are stakeholders who may be greatly affected as well. The ethical systems at work in this lawsuit include goal-based, rights-based, entitlement-based, humanistic, and relativistic.
The Coca Cola Corporation used goal-based ethics and rights-based ethics. Goal-based ethics are used because they are in business to make profits as a goal. Coca Cola also used rights-based ethics in their advertisement ads because many other corporations in the same industry use similar marketing tactics viewed as acceptable by most consumers.
The plaintiff, Ackerman, used relativistic-based and humanistic-based ethics. Relativistic-based ethics were identified because it seems that not everyone views the advertisement as unethical as he does. Therefore, his own personal life experiences shaped his ethics to where Coca Cola’s advertisement tactics crossed his own ethics enough to cause him to file a class action lawsuit. By filing the class action lawsuit, Ackerman thought that most other consumers would agree with him. Humanistic ethics were also identified because Ackerman believes that it just is not morally right for Coca Cola to mislead or deceive consumers into thinking that Vitaminwater is healthy.
The ethics used for consumers will be relativistic-based and will be determined, depending on the outcome of the lawsuit. If Ackerman wins this case, it will set precedence for the industry and how these drinks can be advertised. If the lawsuit gets dismissed, the industry will continue to advertise as they have been. This is an example of relativism because it is an ever-shaping ethical value dependent on experiences in time.
Professional athletes used entitlement-based and goal-based ethics in this case. Entitlement-based and goal-based ethics were used because they are only out to make profits (goal) for themselves (entitlement) by endorsing the product whether they use them or not (University of Phoenix, 2012).
How did the organizational leadership come into play?
The organizational leaders of Coca Cola developed a recipe for enhanced water that was called vitamin water. Kathleen Blanchard interviewed Diana Garza...

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