We live in an amazing time where we have access to so much information. We’re finally understanding the connections between emotions, language, visual stimulation, the mind and our behaviors. It’s awe-inspiring what we can create, and what we can affect. And marketing can use this information in less than ethical ways.
As I sit and watch a commercial for a common medical drug, I’m reminded of the ways media and marketing can lie. The commercial begins, a lovely couple discussing in calm, rational language how the husband’s use of this drug has brought their life back. A beautiful nature scene in the background, music playing and their kids running and jumping. And as it all goes on the announcer starts to list all of the horrifying side-effects of the medication: severe depression, vomiting, irreversible seizure activity, death…the list continues as the couple and now children too are smiling back at us. How did this become a normal commercial? No wonder we are so confused by our options when the messages we receive don’t make sense.
And then there is the use of the words ‘natural’, ‘healthy’, ‘diet’, and ‘detox’. None of which are legally required to mean anything. That means you could purchase a drink that says ‘natural ingredients’ and it could include many known toxic chemicals.
I believe we need to start expecting more from our marketing tactics and that expectation begins with our choice to market ethically. We need to begin considering the connection between our personal values as human beings and our messages to one another. Our corporations are run by people, like you and I, who at times forget they are part of a community as well. The corporation doesn’t have to be something that lacks values and ethics. Ethical marketing can begin because you as the individual, wherever you work, choose to vocalize an ethical message to your market.
So what is ethical marketing at it’s core?
Ethical marketing means we focus, not only on selling a product, but on what the client will receive by purchasing our product or service. With ethical marketing we are not attempting to create fear or anxiety to entice clients to purchase, nor are we focusing on only those things that are positive about an experience. Ethical marketing means offering the full picture so that the individual can make an educated choice.
Ethical marketing may also entail offering products and services that meet the needs of the individual without causing harm, and, if a product can potentially cause harm, to be forthright in explaining this to the consumer clearly and with sincerity. This gives the consumer the power to choose rationally. I’m not against standard medicine, I am against unethical practices.
For example, what if, instead of the commercial above, the product ‘X’ had a commercial with someone talking naturally saying he’d tried the product and while it had helped him with the initial symptoms, he’d found over time he felt worse. Then someone else gets on telling their story. The business can choose to offer a range of experiences giving the consumer enough information to make informed decisions instead of being swayed by false advertising.
Now as I’m writing this I can hear people saying ‘that will never happen’ but why not? This is part of the issue, we expect too little from the corporations, we need to start expecting more.
I don’t expect things to change today. However, a girl can dream can’t she:) It’s the dream brought to reality that really changes the world. It all starts with a vision, and I’m putting mine out there. A vision for ethical marketing tactics, and products that we can truly trust for ourselves and our families. Om Shanti (prayer for peace).