Claiming Ownership of the Problems Caused Through Marketing

The following is the second installment from Professor Michael Czinkota’s  editorial, “Curative International Marketing: The Next Step Up.”

“Curative international marketing accepts responsibility for problems which marketing has caused. It then uses marketing’s capabilities to analyze, to set things right and to increase the wellbeing of the individual and society on a global level. Curative marketing’s two perspectives consist of looking back for what marketing has wrought and making up for errors with future action.

Global problems require a global approach. Curative international marketing needs to draw on jurisprudence, cultural anthropology, philosophy and history. Such perspective acknowledges that marketing is too important to be left to marketers consonant with Keynes questioning “how and whether economics should rule the world”.

International marketers need to focus on past errors and mistakes inflicted by their dicipline and sweep these out from under the carpet in the spirit of “Wiedergutmachung” or restitution.

Marketing’s disregard of local idiosyncrasies has sometimes been like bringing snakes to Guam which almost exterminated all local birds, Examples of heavy burdens inflicted by outsiders were the smallpox, flu and typhus viruses brought by the conquistadors to the Inca of Peru. More contemporaneous is a current law suit:
“The Pine Ridge Indian tribe is suing five beer companies for their role in the alcoholism and fetal alcohol syndrome that plague the tribe’s reservation. The Oglala Sioux Tribe claims that the beer companies sold beer on the perimeter of the teetotalling South Dakota reservation with the knowledge that it would be smuggled. Whiteclay, a nearby town in Nebraska with four beer shops and only about a dozen residents, gets most of its customers from the reservation.

Tom White, the lawyer representing the tribe, told the Associated Press: “You cannot sell 4.9 million 12oz cans of beer and wash your hands like Pontius Pilate, and say we’ve got nothing to do with it being smuggled.”

The reservation, which is about the size of Connecticut, has dealt with poverty and alcoholism for decades. One in four children born suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome, and the life expectancy, between 45 and 52 years, is the lowest in the U.S.”

Take Eastern Europe’s transition from socialism to market practices. Advertisements were taken literally, leading to grave disappointments by consumers, since they did not win the “promised” car, or look like Heidi Klum. Local foods (and their producers) disappeared because newly entering chain stores already had suppliers. Take emerging nations where consumption is the new mantra. Marketers increasingly have sophisticated research at their disposal to ensure consumption addiction. Kotler calls this phenomenon the consumer chain, like a heavy iron ball to be carried around.

At the business level growth is not just important, but the key issue for survival. Executives planning to maintain market share, or to minimize growth, would last a very short time in their job. More is expected. “Citius, altius, fortius” (faster, higher, stronger) may be a great motto for the Olympics, but leads to unexpected repercussions for marketers and their customers.

Negative effects may result from marketing’s misleading of consumers, or simply from unawareness or neglect. For new ventures, it is the obligation of international marketers to understand local conditions and to anticipate and limit possible ill effects. Marketers must avoid causing short or long term harm and make restitution for any damages. Not everything that can be done should be done. A marketing Hippocratic Oath: “First do no harm” should be followed by doing everything possible to make people be better off and actually feel better.”

Please stay tuned for the other installments of “Curative International Marketing: The Next Step Up.”
This editorial can also be accessed in spanish. Check out Marketing Internacional y su Importancia .

6 thoughts on “Claiming Ownership of the Problems Caused Through Marketing

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