I was reading Seth Godin’s post today about whether ‘marketing is evil’ or not. His answer was that while marketing itself isn’t usually evil, market-ers sometimes are, and that can lead to bad things.
While I’d agree, I’d also take a step back and try to look at the business or marketing and advertising. One of the quotes that stood out to me from the post was:
I’ve got a lot of nerve telling you that what you do might be immoral. It’s immoral to rob someone’s house and burn it to the ground, but is it immoral to market them into foreclosure? Well, if marketing works, if it’s worth the time and money, then I don’t think it matters a bit if you’re doing your job. It’s still wrong.
Just because you can market something doesn’t mean you should. You’ve got the power, so you’re responsible, regardless of what your boss tells you to do.
Remember Chris Rock’s bit about gun control? If you want to cut down on gun violence, make each bullet cost $5,000. My original thought was that maybe ‘unethical’ advertising should just be more expensive… Charge more for marketing products that are more dubious like ‘Advertorials,’ ‘Infomercials,’ and paid blog reviews – things that seem to blur the line between advertising and content. The problem then becomes who is the judge of what’s on either side of the advertising line?
What about a sort of hypocratic oath for marketers – a kind of Do No Evil creed? If there was some kind of high ethical standard that people were trained in from the get go would that change which products and services are marketed or the way that they are presented? Or at the end of the day, are we all chasing ad dollars without regard for what we’re helping to market?
If you’re part of an agency or media outlet, how do you balance the need for business with the implications that consuming your clients’ product or service come with?