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The Ethics of Marketing Good Corporate Conduct Author(s): Mary Lyn Stoll Source: Journal of Business

The Ethics of Marketing Good Corporate Conduct Author(s): Mary Lyn Stoll Source: Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 41, No. 1/2, The Role of the Business Person in the Fabric of Society (Nov. - Dec., 2002), pp. 121-129 Published by: Springer

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The

Good

Ethics

of Marketing

Corporate

Conduct

Mary

Lyn Stoll

ABSTRACT.

table

thropic

Marketers

cially

Companies

that

hope

good

contribute

that

to

chari

philan

marketers

artistic

Day

nies

or

want

a national

advertising

to

hopes

for

this

are

is

campaign,

know

that

about

their

the

bottom

utterly

rewarded

other

to

proclaim

the

continued

provide

In another

compa

the

good

deeds

deeds

to

to

also

organizations

work

of

careful,

will

good

rightly

also

be

corporate

to

their

consumers

the

for

the bottom

must

such

be

conduct

line.

that

they

do

in

in

might

also

be

In

one

sense,

espe

Good

companies

this

in

suit

turn

in

that

in

good

line.

conduct

good

however,

acceptable

market

a morally

typically engage in mild deception

license when marketing

fashion.

goods

morally

corporate

unproblematic.

for

good

companies

the

Although

and

or

conduct.

take

services,

troublesome

these

sorts

and

when

I argue

that

worri

goods

to use

follow

and

to

encourages

giving

publicly

force

to

in

face

turn

back

of

practices used to market

are far more

good

community.

their

desire

will

Companies

be

be more

a l t h o u g h

although

some

with

mild

m i l d d e c e p t i o n

deception

respect

to

and services,

such methods

it

is not

the marketing

substantially

of most

blunder

good

a positive

community

public

a further

sense,

likely

scrutiny,

incentive

however,

is a far greater

in

the marketing

moral

of

this will

avoid

corporate

wrongdoing.

character.

These

erode

for

trust

and

demonstrate

good.

a

lack

of

be

in

of

these

re-examined

adequate

respect

the moral

that

to

such

conduct.

In

light

must

concerns,

I suggest

applied

practices

the marketing

when

of cor

Finally, I develop

are needed

porate

a revised

order to address the problems peculiar

keting of morally praiseworthy behavior.

character

set of

and good

ethical

guidelines

that

to

the mar

advertising

concerning

be morally

problematic.

far more

on

spends

able

on

whether

advertising

the

deeds

or

not

corporate

donations

can

When

a company

spends

their

themselves,

such

good

deeds

than

truly

it

it

actions

is question

are

morally

sort

of

praiseworthy

advertising

and

whether

is unacceptably

or

not

this

misleading.

Although

advertising

campaigns

are generally

less

KEY

WORDS:

corporate

keting

character,

advertising

corporate

ethics,

business

philanthropy,

ethics,

mar

Companies

zations

go

members

of

not

line

that

contribute

hope

that

local

to

these

charitable

contributions

organi

it

will

and

is

a

rightly

unnoticed

by

communities.

consumers,

investors,

of

Whether

acknowledgement

in a brochure

for Earth

Mary

Lyn

Philosophy

Stoll

is presently

atMinnesota

Her

research focuses

upon

ethics.

Her

work

examines

an Associate

Professor

of

State

University,

Mankato.

ethical

the

nature

theory

and

of

corporate

applied

moral

agency

virtue.

and

the potential

for

development

of corporate

than

forthright

mild

concerning

more

all

of

the

facts,

character

advertising

deception

is

a much

campaigns

in marketing

serious

concerning

offense.

relevant

corporate

When

corporate

philanthropy

of

resulting

reacting

from

ethical

serious

are

to

selectively

negative

advanced

public

prior

misdeeds,

concerns.

At

this

the

as

a means

perceptions

too

same

raises

time,

however,

good

for

the

benefits

not

to

set of

of

positive

undercut

publicity

as

an

for

deeds

marketing

must

be

engage

guidelines

incen

accept

with

is

tive

companies

A

of

in morally

for

able behavior.

the

dealing

conduct

good to deal with

views

with

deeds.

corporate

these

this paper,

needed

Thus,

adjusted

marketing

in order

standard

to

deal

good

sorts

ethics

of

of issues.

issues.

must

be

peculiarities

peculiarities

of

Iwill

begin

of marketing

the moral

In

-^g-

r

Journal

? 2002

of Business

Ethics

Kluwer

Academic

41:

Publishers.

121-129,

2002.

Printed

in theNetherlands.

This content downloaded from 121.52.158.245 on Mon, 22 Apr 2013 01:26:40 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

122

with

standard

views

discuss

how

such

of marketing

accounts

must

 

Mary

Lyn

ethics

and

then

be

revised

in

order

corporate

cases

to deal

with

good

studies,

one

conduct

corporate

keting

of

good

the

conduct.

peculiarities

I will

of

unacceptable

and

corporate

one

of

very

conduct,

of marketing

then

use

two

marketing

of

careful

to

mar

suggest

more

adequate

guidelines

may

towards

turn when

which

business

persons

in marketing

advertising

campaigns

rate

conduct.

I.

Standard

views

formulating

good

corpo

concerning

of marketing

ethics

Since

that

for

the

it

goods

primary

justification

in meeting

for

the market

is effective

and

consumers'

desires

services,

it follows

that marketing

is

tactics

formance

meeting

must

be

tary

informed

services

so

ought

of

not

this

consumer

undermine

function.

needs,

To

the

be

however,

effective

effective

per

the market

one

that

in which

consumers

exchange

will

be

is

truly

able

volun

to make

in

decisions

they

actually

in procuring

the

want.

According

goods

and

to David

Holley,

major

marketing

ethics

tenets:

(1) Both

the

includes

buyer

be

adequately

informed

concerning

at

and

least

seller must

is pur

three

what

chased

Neither

and

what

buyer

nor

is paid

seller

for

is

that

purchase.

(2)

compelled

through

coercion,

relevant

severely

constraints

restricted

on

the

alternatives,

ability

to

or

choose.

other

And

(3) Both

a

rational

(Holley,

in

trust

involved

more

would

ethical

for

from

both

of

obligations:

informed

Whether

Kantian,

buyer

and

are

seller

concerning

these

capable

sorts

of

not

trust

of making

the transaction

decision

1987). Without

place,

one

buyers

another.

will

find

the

cumbersome

if each

be

guidelines.

and

party

Apart

both

consumers

a

would

for

a

such

parties

respect

system,

one

and

one

adhere

of

a

respect

for

autonomous

one

Contractarian,

ultimately

constraints

be

the

able

to

parties

much

than

it

and

Without

sellers

will

such

business

time

adhered

from

to

transaction

consuming

the

these

to

such minimal

expected

that

utility

results

also

hope

g u i d e l i n e s

guidelines

that

out

basic

ability

for

of moral

to make

themselves.

a Utilitarian,

based

ethic,

businesses

might

the most

others'

decisions

favors

or

virtue

Stoll

there

one

and

meet

of

are

certainly

good

to be

in business

moral

reasons

on

any

non-coercive,

transactions.

practices

of

actually

intense

instance,

has

simply

satisfy

1985).

us

by

that

good.

that

life

are

that

if not

these

accounts

to which

criteria

is

honest,

non-deceptive

The

extent

these

market

still

a matter

for

debate.

John

Kenneth

argued

that

business

consumer

desires

and

Galbraith

claims

that

aiding

in

may

Advertisers

be

contrary

individuals

the

in

creation

conflict

to

may

a more

also

full

would

be

more

Galbraith,

does

needs

advertisers

of

not

with

induce

and

(Galbraith,

coerce

consumer

the

desires

greater

desires

satisfying

likely

pursue

for

slavish devotion

services.

a

above

a constant

This

society

base

Others,

barrage

of

advertisements

frivolous

inducing

goods

and

to procuring

poses

moral

problems

in

creating

individual

virtue

is

fostered

Levitt,

would

argue

in which

materialism.

such

as Theodore

that

the

virtues

and

honesty

circumscribed.

of

practices

gerated

product.

amatter

or

viding

non-deception,

in

advertising

These

theorists

puffery

fanciful

in which

claims

such

practices

tactics

the

deception

serve

a

argued

to

of

non-coercion,

to

be

would

ought

more

defend

sellers

with

make

respect

exag

to

are

clearly

simply

more

pro

a

necessary

might

accept

one

is morally

good.

this

the

In

sort

this

of

mundane

imaginative

Although

of

customers

well

persuasive

that

and

such mild

even

may

Levitt,

has

of

can

help

everyday

of

information

decisions,

than

with

reasoned

to

argue

able

regard,

advertising

aspects

making

social

that

elevate

existence

with

promise

huckstering

further

desires

consciously

serving

argued

fostered

a function

 

more

akin

to

art

than

1970).

Robert

Arrington

has

so

long

as

the

pursuit

of

even

created

by

business

is

by

the

individual,

autonomy

compromised

 

(Arrington,

(Levitt,

that

or

affirmed

are not

and

rationality

1982).

Richard

soning

tising

attitudes

Lippke

that

fact

objects

the

induce

arguing

does

in

that

net

encourage

to

this

line

of

affect

beliefs,

the

of mass-adver

desires,

suppression

rea

and

of

rational

pression

decision

making

of

autonomous

and

thereby

individuals

who

the

sup

define

themselves

through

Lippke

maintains

that

these

the

sorts

frequency

of

decisions.

with

which

This content downloaded from 121.52.158.245 on Mon, 22 Apr 2013 01:26:40 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The

Ethics

ofMarketing

individuals

repetitive

sion

simply

think

by

are

subjected

of

loud

give

ads

such

are

akin

persistent

the

time

the

to

nature

oneself.

the

and

one

a

will

very

not

for

Targeting

ads

and

the

to

oppres

who

bully

or

space

to

vulnerable,

legitimizing

claims,

relying

aging

shoddy

all

common

emotional

upon

appeals,

superficiality,

oversimplifying

and

encour

standards

practices

for

proof

of

claims

advertising

advertising

are

that

in mass

serve

to

subvert

decision-making.

decision-making.

decision-making.

free,

This

rational,

barrage

and

of

autonomous

advertising

teaches

sentation

individuals

that

of

information

highly

relevant

selective

to

repre

decision

making

are

and

the

overstatement

means

of

of

others.

of possible

the

these

legitimate

affecting

Again,

making

practices

benefits

decision

practices

are

antithetical

to encouraging

mination

(Lippke,

1989).

rational

self-deter

Lippke

sums

up

his

objections

follows:

to

standard

marketing

practices

as

(These

cannot

messages)

believe

or

tell

individuals

trust

what

.

.

others

. that

say,

they

that

anything

contrary

words

mean.

cation

can

They

is

(or nothing!)

can be proved,

that evidence

to

one's

mean

tell

a matter

claims

whatever

persons

of

may

that

persuading

be

ignored,

wants

anyone

success

in

others

and

them

communi

that

to

no

matter

how

communication

tudes constitutive

it

is done.

Such

attitudes

starkly oppose

of

critical

rigor,

precision,

patience,

about

thought

the habits

and

and

atti

competence:

honesty,

effort,

clarity,

etc.

(Lippke,

1989,

p.

45).

Lippke

further

objects

in

so

far

the

desires

than

think

as

constitutive

that

to

standard

such

mass

practices

mar

allow

of

by

the

good

exploiting

individuals

life

our

the

of

for

the

the mass

subjected

matter

themselves

good

life.

onslaught

distracts

to

us

such

with

personal

keting

practices

advertisers

to

define

by manipulating

our

insecurities

mental

about

According

space

what

of

us

advertising

from

the

rather

to

is

as developing

ideal

and

allowing

critically

to Lippke,

to which

things

at best

we

are

truly

or

friendships

dealing

flaws

worst,

and

mass

of

and

insecurities

advertising

to

increase

critical

in

a

clearheaded

exploits

and

tools

our

deprives

needed

decisions.

Thus,

us

way.

insecurities

collec

At

in order

tively

sales

thinking

to make

Lippke

free

well-reasoned

Good

Corporate

Conduct

123

argues

for

even

greater

restraint

in marketing

practices

skills

stitutes

merely

are

the

in order

fostered

good

to

and

assure

that

that

notions

critical

reasoning

con

of what

life

are well

reasoned

rather

than

manipulated

(Lippke,

1989).1

market

II.

Moral

marketing

problems

of

peculiar

corporate

to

good

the

conduct

Clearly

degree

there

to which

either particular

is much

 

debate

concerning

the

standard

advertising

practices

in

cases

or

en masse

are morally

problematic.

One

certain

relatively

amount

harmless

extent

principle

mind

poses

the

the

might

of

so

reasonably

in

argue

that

deception

long

advertising

bear

presup

as

our

consumers

culture

to which

a

is

in

of

caveat

emptor

and

the

extent

to which

depicting

advertisers

a

symbolic

may

take

imagery

creative

with

license

which

in

they

hope

also

a product

reasonably

will

argue

be

associated.2

that

advertising,

One

might

especially

in mass

threaten

reformed

fostering

deception

when

quantities

rational

it

so

as

practices

as well

comes

and

constant

doses,

does

to

autonomy

truly

and

respect

ought

individuals

in fact

be

by

to

of

non-coercion,

as

critical

to marketing

reasoning

good

non

and

skills.

corporate

But

conduct

raised

as morally

for

praiseworthy,

hope

unacceptable

the

stakes

are

con

prac

both

those

who

that

good

that

to protect

business

good

the

sumers

from

morally

tices

and

for

businesses

conduct

will

also

be

Here,

I will

argue

conduct

 

corporate

of

advertising

such

fashion.

In

that

sible

an

relatively

consumers

upon

panies

hope

for

corporate

line.

good

case

bottom

of

special

the marketing

a very

in

represents

is

it

carried

global

of

that

in which

is especially

out

economy

they

important

a

marketing

increasingly

weak

to

need

to

respon

with

a

law,

depend

com

system

know

serve

in

international

can

the media

that

as a watchdog

unacceptable

over

engage

behavior.

Even

if

company,

government

surely

public

cannot

moral

punish

outrage

the

will

errant

often

prove

tory

just

fine.3

of

corporate

as

If

sure

a punishment

can

companies

persal

of

information

behavior

relevant

through

as

any

regula

"manage"

to moral

the

judgments

dis

the marketing

of

This content downloaded from 121.52.158.245 on Mon, 22 Apr 2013 01:26:40 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

124

Mary

isolated

in

instances

of

immoral

good

corporate

conduct

conduct

rule

even

rather

tool

cases where

is the

than

the

in making

in m a k i n g
p r o d u c t s

products

exception,

well

and

consumers

lose

a vital

reasoned

decisions

about

they

choose

to

support.

the

If,

practices

on

above

to meeting

even

the