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One responsibility of all educators, especially those in marketing and advertising, is to provide students with a proper perspective regarding professional ethics. In other words, it is to guide future managers in developing an ethical conscience as they perfect their decision-making competence. Today, the 1997 Pontifical Council’s statements on ethics in advertising are the top result of a Google search for “ethics and advertising.” The amount of scriptural reference contained in the statements is considerably less than that found in most Papal social encyclicals (i.e., social writings of the Catholic Church). This approach made the document more accessible to thoughtful laypersons. Hence, the statements were scrutinized by academics and practitioners alike. In helping carry out an education that develops students’ ethical conscience, marketing academics in particular, and the advertising establishment in general, welcomed the commentary offered in the Vatican's essay on advertising. The morally sensitive perspective was injected into the ongoing debate regarding what the appropriate and understood social obligations of advertising practitioners should be. Echoes of the debate are present in today’s advertising textbooks and lectures. This manuscript assesses how the statements affected advertising textbooks’ chapters on ethics after ten years have passed since they were made public.


Submitted as a Catholic Intellectual Tradition Research Project.