From a very young age my father began teaching me the core foundations of running a successful business. Although, I didn’t really think I liked business my Dad believed that business was the industry of the future and if there was a field of study that I should take up; Marketing was it. I didn’t really question it.
I spent my younger years preparing for college and then 4 years in college studying the craft. Then pursued an MBA still in the same field and finally got certified by the American Marketing Association. Having felt that I had acquired a vast amount of knowledge about Marketing’s role within a successful organization I also acquired a serious distaste for the profession that I was supposed to be a part of.
Born with a sense of idealism and a strong interest in ethical behavior I couldn’t wrap my head around marketing products that provided short term happiness for long term suffering, especially if it significantly damaged your health or the health of your family. And, I definitely couldn’t comprehend making a profit over doing the right thing.
That’s definitely NOT Good for business!!
I’ll be honest. I didn’t pay that much attention to the ethics involved specifically in the field of Marketing – especially if you were an adult but then I had my children. And, I realized that it’s all interconnected.
I don’t understand why people buy cigarettes even though they carry a label saying that they cause cancer; overseas, they even have grotesque pictures detailing how your body will suffer yet smoking there continues to be on the rise.
However, factor in the idea and pressure of social rituals, addiction and education I am less inclined to be judgmental of people’s choices.
I realized early on that there was no way I would be able to shield my children completely from the hundreds of messages that they would receive throughout the day, but as long as they were in my reach I knew that I had control to shift gears if there was something I felt was inappropriate.
Thankfully my children only ended up singing the Oxy Clean jingle or quoting the Progressive Insurance tagline throughout the day.
But, now my children are older and I’m amazed at how many times I am asked to drop what I am doing and run to the TV to see a glorified “experience” of playing with a (toy, game, puppet, craft…whatever). “I want to buy that”, they tell me.
The commercial looks engaging and if I was a child perhaps I would also be running to share my desire to play like that with my parents. But, I know the reality, and that is that most of the toys are cheaply made and very rarely offer the level of excitement brought on by the mass marketing effort used to push us to buy their products through television.
Of course, to ease the tendency for debate about why or why not we should buy the toy I verbally say “one day” and hope they will forget.
It’s in those moments, I am reminded by something Seth Godin wrote: Just like every powerful tool, the impact comes from the craftsman, not the tool. For now, I get to choose the tools.
I agree with him when he says that marketing works for society when the marketer and consumer are both aware of what’s happening and are both satisfied with the ultimate outcome.
But, I have to tell you based on our choices as collective consumers; we are NOT aware. But, I think we can get there.
It’s important to note: Just because you can market something doesn’t mean you should.
As parents, we need to be aware.
Live and Learn. We all Do.
Thanks for Reading. Please pass this on to someone who means something to you.