The Century of the Self
Seth Godin writes about marketers' (and lobbyists') responsibility:
Advertising and promotion and lobbying cost money. And organizations pay for it because, by and large, it works. Not all the time, and rarely as big as people hope, but sure, you can influence the public by spending money.
Which leads to the key question: are you responsible for what you market?
Some people will tell you that the market decides. They’ll remind you that most consumers are adults, spending their own resources and doing it freely. That people have a right to buy what they want, even if what they want isn’t good for them (right now, or in the long run). That’s what living in a free country is all about, apparently. Buy what you want.
I thought we agreed that marketing works.
If marketing works, it means that free choice isn’t quite so free. It means that marketers get to influence and amplify desires. The number of SUVs sold in the United States is a bazillion times bigger than it was in 1962. Is that because people suddenly want them, or is it because car marketers built them and marketed them?
Cigarette consumption is way down. Is that because people suddenly don’t want them any more, or is it because advertising opportunities are limited?
Others will tell you that if it’s legal, it’s fair game. If it’s legal for Edelman to post a blog called Working Families for Wal-Mart (when it’s really working Edelman employees for Wal-Mart), then they have every right to do so. In fact, they have an obligation to their shareholders to do so. Or so they say.
I believe that every criminal, no matter how heinous the crime, deserves an attorney. I don't believe that every product and every organization and every politician deserves world-class marketing or PR.
A neighbor was complaining that the baseball field in my town needs upkeep, and wonders why we don’t go ahead and take $100,000 from Pepsi for sponsorship of the field and a long-term contract to put vending machines on site. It doesn’t matter to him that obesity and heart disease are the number one preventable cause of death. He says that it’s a personal choice, and if we can get the money, we should. [Read More at Seth Godin's blog]