Marketers often face questions about their marketing activities and the way in which these activities relate to their various stakeholders. Many of these questions need to be answered from an ethical perspective. Ethical theories can be divided into relativism, utilitarianism, universalism, the justice theory and the virtue theory (Schlegelmilch, 1998): • Relativism holds that each situation must be judged according to its own merits, and that universal standards cannot be applied to judge the morality of a decision. A relativist believes in ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’. • Utilitarianism advocates that the moral merits of a decision lie in whether it serves the greatest number of people. Applied to a business setting, decisions would be made after a consideration of its effects on the various stakeholders and the final choice would be the decision that served the largest number of stakeholders. • Universalism/deontology proposes that the ends, or successful results, do not justify a decision that is basically unethical. Those subscribing to this theory believe in the maxim ‘do unto others as would have them do unto you’. An idealistic theory, universalism is difficult to apply in practice as, often, different stakeholders have conflicting interests, e.g. customers and shareholders. • The justice theory stands in opposition to utilitarianism, and translated into practical terms implies that loss of individual liberty nullifies any gains in economic efficiency and prosperity. • The virtue theory advocates acting in the true spirit of virtuousness, and going beyond mere duty and self-interest in doing so. Marketers face not only the dilemma of acting in the interests of all of their stakeholders which may not always coincide, but also the possibility of their personal ethics clashing with the ethics of the organization they work for. Organizations around the world are increasingly following the American example and producing ethical statements and codes of conduct which, if nothing else, can act as a clarification and point of reference for all employees.