Ethical Void in Marketing?
A couple weeks ago I attended a presentation on ethics in business in Charleston, West Virginia. The presenter, a tenured professor from a respected local university, was commenting on how consumers are justified to expect honesty in corporate communications. Telling the truth was right and just and a mark of corporate integrity, he explained. Then, recognizing the need to clarify his statement, he paused to note the following exception: “Well, except for marketing and advertising. We all know that marketing communication is inherently full of lies.”
I almost fell out of my chair. What was plain to him was entirely troubling to me. He was inferring that marketing is devoid of ethics.
Maybe I should not have been so shocked. After all, Seth Godin, one of America’s most popular and respected marketing gurus, published a book entitled, All Marketers Are Liars. (And he’s a marketing guy!)
It troubles me that marketing is plainly perceived to be full of lies. How did we get to this point? More importantly, what can we do about it? Help me out with your thoughts and suggestions, my dear marketing geniuses.