For this week we’re going to steer a bit off the course of the issues addressed in Exploring Ethics to look at an issue that is connected to several others: marketing and advertising.
Marketing and advertising have a shady past, not to mention the present. And there’s more than enough reason to justify the skeptical view that marketers are deceptive and self-interested, working in blind service of profit margins. The pharmaceutical industry plagues our healthcare system. The food and cosmetic industries have perverted our visions of health and beauty. Schools strapped for cash have turned their properties into billboards, and filled them with the images of popular but unhealthy food products. And the list goes on. There seem to be fewer and fewer places we can even look where we won’t see some pitch for a product.
At the same time ads and sponsorships fund many exceptionally important products, services, and businesses. And not all people and businesses with something to sell are going to detriment your life. In fact, many offer ways to seriously improve life, whether for yourself or others. Here are three examples of marketing philosophies that challenge the status quo of the marketplace, and even offer some potentially morally fruitful guidance for doing business today.
Pioneer of permission marketing Seth Godin marketing cycles, and how marketing in our own time, if it is going to be successful, must also adopt some moral norms. In brief, we should be less obsessed with selling products and more concerned with assembling and leading tribes.
Thinking Like an Ad Man
Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy Group, proposes that thinking like a marketer could help us discover new and more effective solutions to world problems.
Discovering the Value of Transparency
In this recent talk, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock elucidates the value of transparency through his efforts to raise money for a fully sponsored film about sponsorship.
Cartoon via hugh