The public are swine; advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill-bucket.
~ George Orwell
I’ve never watched “Mad Men”. It’s on my Netflix list, but I’m currently on an epic journey through “Breaking Bad”, so it has to wait: Heisenberg is in my head, and we are grappling with some big issues.
Modern business programs have a fixation with the teaching of “ethics”. Not the Nichomachean Ethics of Aristotle, nor the cardinal virtues of Thomas Aquinas, but something both more modern and more vague. We breathe this in, we breathe it out, a cool and righteous mist. We will be ethical when we practice our craft.
But this is the war college; it is not the actual war. As General George Patton noted, “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” And so it goes. We cook what the public wants, and sometimes what they want is the blue meth. Getting to the point: Is there an ethical way to sell worthless crap to low-information (or even stupid) people? When we promote “sustainable” products, are we on our way to marketing sainthood, or are we just pushing the latest crank? Is Billy Fucillo a crack dealer, or do we all really need those new Kias?
Marketing ethics begins with not snorting up our own drug. We are part of the free enterprise system, which defines a fair exchange to be when both parties leave with more perceived value than they arrived with. We are “professionally ethical” when we truthfully represent the value proposition of our product or service. Your personal victory – or remorse – is not part of the value proposition. If you can’t stand the heat, don’t cook the crystal!
And that’s the rant. Kevin K. aka “Walter White”