Advertising Ethics

Institute for Advertising Ethics
“Matters of Trust”

Ethics Certificate Program

The American Advertising Federation, in conjunction with the Institute for Advertising Ethics (IAE), has initiated professional certificate opportunities for advertising, PR and marketing communications professionals and students. The two workshops are designed to present our professionals and students with solutions to the ethical/legal dilemmas being encountered in the new advertising workplace. Both can be taught online.


Workshop 1: Certificate for the Practice of Enhanced Advertising Ethics

Based on the growing and documented importance of ethics to consumers, professionals and clients, this half-day session prepares professionals and students to understand and resolve the ethical dilemmas in the real world of advertising. More than 600 professionals have received the Certificate for the Practice of Enhanced Advertising Ethics from sessions held at the national conference and district and local clubs.

Workshop Curriculum
  1. Discussion of WHY Advertising Ethics is important to the consumer and to the advertising professional and company, including both the business case and equally important personal case. Teaching materials include consumer research, reference to learning from Business ethicists, and the personal opinions of leading and well known ad professionals.
  2. Complete discussion of WHAT are the current ethical dilemmas faced by professionals in the workplace and in the creation and dissemination of advertising. This section of the course is based on the newly adopted Principles and Practices for Advertising Ethics along with case studies and reference to government, business and consumer decisions. Ethical issues to be discussed include dealing with clients, agencies, media, suppliers and office employees; treating children and special products, like alcoholic beverages with special care; the lack of transparency in online blogs and offline endorsements; protecting consumer privacy; the blurring of the line between advertising on the one hand and news and entertainment on the other; and avoiding ads offensive to the customer.
  3. Role Playing: We will break into groups facilitated a local club leader to practice decision making on ethical dilemmas by considering the ethical principles, case studies the participants have learned and personal ethics—report back to the class.
  4. Discussion of how we can inspire our professionals in our ad businesses to practice enhanced advertising ethics. This section will include illustrations of creating cultural values for the company—including adoption of the Principles and Practices for Advertising Ethics—and communicating the values throughout the company and creating the expectation that they will be practiced. Also, we will emphasize the practice of “telling ethical stories” to our professionals about the dilemmas faced to let them feel the importance of being ethical for the company and themselves.


The participant's cost of attending the half day session is $100 with the AAF receiving $50 per certificate attendee for administrative costs. Those taking the class will receive an ethics certificate and other materials.

Workshop 2: Transparency Builds Trust

Research and case studies demonstrate that transparency is critical in building consumer trust in the new and growing world of digital advertising, and in our business relationships.  The session presents government and self-regulatory cases and guidelines for providing material disclosures to consumers in native advertising, behavioral targeting and blogs containing consumer endorsements. The workshop also deals with the transparency needed to build trust with our business partners, including the rebates received by an agency from a publisher in the placement of ads.  Here, the new industry self-regulatory guidelines will be covered.

Workshop Curriculum
  1. Discussion of the importance of building trust with consumers and our business partners, and how transparency is critical in building that trust. Illustrations provided as degree of trust consumers place in online and offline ads, and the important role ethics plays in building trust.
  2. How to separate paid advertising content from original editorial and entertainment content (IAE Principle 3). Cases brought by government to prohibit the blurring of the line between ads and editorial content.  Industry and Federal Trade Commission guidelines on how to effectively advertise and build trust in the digital world while being fully transparent.
  3. How to fully disclose payment and other factors affecting consumer endorsements in advertising (IAE Principle 4).  Full transparency is required for consumers to build trust in this powerful motivator of consumer purchase.
  4. The need to protect consumers’ personal information that is collected online and how to give them the choice as to whether it is to be distributed.  (IAE Principle 6) The current crisis caused by the release of millions of consumers’ information and the government and industry reaction are discussed.  Practical guidelines and an industry voluntary program that provide consumer knowledge and choice are presented.
  5. How to build trust with our business partners through full transparency of business ownership and arrangements, agency remuneration and rebates, and media incentives. (IAE Principle 9). The voluntary guidelines from the industry are discussed.

The participant's cost of attending the half day session is $100 with the AAF receiving $50 per certificate attendee for administrative costs. Those taking the class will receive an ethics certificate and other materials.

About the Course Instructor

Wally Snyder serves as Executive Director for the Institute for Advertising Ethics, and also as Chair of the National Advertising Review Board, the appellate body of our ad industry’s self-regulatory mission. He served as an attorney at the Federal Trade Commission before joining the AAF, as general council and then president & CEO. In 2017, he published a textbook on advertising ethics,  Ethics in Advertising. Making the Case for Doing the Right Thing. He was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 2010, and was presented the Kim Rotzoll Award for Advertising Ethics by the American Academy of Advertising in 2009. 

How to Get Your Certificate

Ethics certificates are awarded after completion of the AAF's Advertising Ethics Workshops. To participate in or learn more about Certificate Workshops, please contact Wally Snyder, Executive Director, Institute for Advertising Ethics.