The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
Category: Marketing Ethics
Ethics is not a topic that I hear marketers talking about very often, however it is something that I think about frequently because I understand the societal impact of what I do. Marketers can often drive human desires and behaviors, getting people to buy things that they may or may not need, making them feel better or worse about themselves in the process.
So what are some of the ethical issues in marketing? First and foremost is using marketing to make a product that is clearly harmful more appealing to people – for instance, selling cigarettes by appealing to people at a deep emotional level. This can be achieved by linking the cigarette brand to independence, rebellion, good times, coming into one’s own power, etc.
Next is getting people to buy things that they just don’t need. How many toys does one child actually need? How many pairs of shoes are enough? Or, how many homes are enough?
Then there is using fear to sell something. As we all know, fear works really well as a motivator, however constantly using fear to market products and services only serves to create a more fearful society motivated more by avoidance of potential problems than by embracing that which is beneficial or uplifting.
Making false claims is both unethical and illegal. I am personally not as concerned about what is generally considered to be puffery, for instance stating that one’s brand is “the best in the world,” because few people are going to take that statement at face value.
Certainly, an ethical dilemma that most marketing agencies face is whether to do (a) what is in the client’s best interest or (b) what the client wants (if you know that what they want is not in their own best interest). In this situation, are you forthright with the client but then ultimately collect your fees for executing what they desire or do you walk away from the project or business if what you are being asked to do is not in their best interest? Is the client always right or is the client sometimes wrong?Read More