Abstract : Consumers expect companies to conduct their business in an ‘ethical' way, recognising both their ‘social' and ‘commercial' responsibilities. Consumers do not tend to make a distinction between ‘responsible' communication and brand communication. Ethical communication is, however, part of institutional communication and must address the civil and individual conscience. Brand communication must bridge the gap by setting up a veritable ‘moral contract' with the consumer. Firms therefore find themselves in the tricky situation of having to make sure that their words and their acts are responsible whilst ensuring at the same time that they remain competitive. It appears to be quite difficult therefore for companies to define their ethical communication policy effectively.