Is Marketing Ethics An Oxymornon?

11/25/2004

Hardy_burger Interesting article by Philip Kotler, the guru of marketing, in the current Marketing Management about ethics in marketing. Dr. Kotler challenges marketing professionals to examine not only how we market but what we market.

“What if the customer wants something that isn’t good for him or her?”

“What if the product or service, while good for the customer, isn’t good for society or other groups?"

Example: At a time when the American public is battling a war on obesity, Hardee's rolled out Monster Thickburger™. The “mother of all burgers” is a two, one-third pound slabs of Angus beef, three slices of American cheese, four strips of bacon and mayonnaise on a buttered sesame seed bun weighing in at 107 grams of fat and 1,420 calories. Yo Mama!

According to Hardee's chief executive Andrew Puzder this is "not a burger for tree-huggers."  However, The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a advocate for nutrition and health, had a different word for the Baby Huey Burger - "food porn."

[Sidebar: To be fair, Hardee’s also has low carb choice. The company is also launching a cause marketing program where one “monstrous” NFL player will work the drive-thru of a local Hardee’s for two hours. The proceeds from every Monster Thickburger sold at that location on that day will be donated to the player’s charity of choice.The Center for Science in the Public Interest calls this - "sinister."]

The debate rages on … “Are we our brother’s or sister’s keeper?” Kotler poses a bigger question, “Do public interest groups and government agency have the right to intervene in the free choices of individuals?” Kotler believes that the problem stems from conflicts among different ethical systems.

More questions arise and there are no easy answers. What are a professional marketer’s social responsibilities? Should social ethics be part of a marketing code of ethics?

Establishing a code of ethics for the blogosphere is something that has been an issue for several years. How do you build a community based on trust? Does the blogosphere need a Code of Blogger Ethics? Here are a few ideas.

Cyber Journal’ Code of Blogger Ethics

1. Be Fair and Honest

2. Minimize Harm

3. Be Accountable

Rebecca Blood’s Code of Blogger Ethics from the Weblog Handbook

1. Publish as fact only that which you believe to be true.

2. If material exists online, link to it when you reference it.

3. Publicly correct any misinformation.

4. Write each entry as if it could not be changed; add to, but do not rewrite or delete, any entry.

5. Disclose any conflict of interest.

6. Note questionable and biased sources.

Joho The Blog (David Weinberger) - Blogger Code of UnProfessional Ethics

I can’t figure out if Doc or David or Chris wrote this. Posted October 16, 2002!

My readers:

...know me. They will judge me according to context.

...are smart. They will not be misled by some stray comment I may happen to make.

...are kind. They make allowances and forgive me ahead of time.

In return:

I will speak my mind about what I care about.

I will not revise too much or too carefully: Blogging about opera is still jazz.

I will not anticipate and reply to every objection: Punctilliousness in pursuit of the appearance of propriety kills voice.

If I apologize, it will be because I have actually betrayed my readers' trust, not because I may have, might have, or could be misread as having done so.

I pledge to keep the reading of my weblog purely optional.

[Sidebar: Take a look at the thread on “Blogo culpa” – integrity in the blog world – on Doc’s site.]

As recently as this month the beat goes on. Jason Calcanis Blogethics.org, wants to organize a committee to draft A Code of Ethics for Blog Advertising .

Heard if from NickDenton

Business Ethics – Top 10 Best Corporate Citizens 2004

1. Fannie Mae

2. Proctor & Gamble

3. Intel

4. St. Paul Companies

5. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc

6. Deere & Company

7. Avon Products

8. Hewlett-Packard

9. Agilent Technologies Inc.

10. Ecolab Inc.

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