Marketing Is Love – Ethical Marketing Part 1

Are you proud to tell people you’re a marketer? Okay, be honest – why not?

(And you at the back, in the bow tie, who defiantly said yes – why do you feel like you’re getting ready for a fight? Not just right now but like, always?)

Everybody Hates Chris Marketers

Let’s just fess up – none of us get a buzz from telling people we work in marketing.

There’s a reason why Australia’s Worst Ever Prime Minister In The History of the World Ever Scott Morrison is widely and deliciously denounced as “Scotty from Marketing”, poking fun at his previous career – he’s made a career out of being a liar. Perhaps it’s not as bad as saying you work in loan sharking, drug dealing, or sales. But it’s still pretty bad.  

Marketing is widely regarded as – at best –a form of charlatanry. A method of pulling the wool over peoples’ eyes: a way to sell shit. At worst, it’s downright manipulation and emotional coercion.

Hang on though – before we all quit in a halo of shame and follow those dreams of being an interior designer or flower arranger (okay that’s just me), let’s figure out what marketing is.  


What is Marketing?

what is marketing?

Marketing is the process of finding a market. Simple as.

This could be a market for a product, a service or an idea. A market is a place in which goods are exchanged, usually for money (though sometimes for other goods, as in the barter system which comprised most of human history, or in the contra system, which also involves trading one thing for another and is common in marketing co-promotions between companies).

In its most basic form, marketing tends to mean convincing people to buy something.

This toothbrush cleans teeth better than every other.
This haircut will make you sexy.
These politics give you power

What you’re doing is convincing people that they have a lack, a need – and guess what the perfect way to fill that need is? BUY WHAT I’M SELLING.

However, there’s more to marketing than 21st century hypercapitalism would have you believe.

Good marketing is match-making.

❤️ Marketing Is Romantic: Marketing As Match-Making ❤️

A football match, a romantic match, matching people with commodities – the ideal situation is a good match. A bad match is dissatisfying for all parties (unless you have a selfish vested interest in the outcome).

An unbalanced football game can be fun for (some of) the winning players and fans. Consider a thrilling 3-2 fixture that remains competitive to the very last second versus a 6-0 trouncing which is essentially just public humiliation.

Only a certain few people of a peculiar mindset will enjoy the second of those more than the first.

A romantic match which isn’t advantageous to both partners is the same – perhaps one person in the relationship (or their relative) feels like they’ve “won”. This “win” is at the cost of everyone else involved – specifically the badly-matched partner in the relationship and everyone connected to them who has to cope with their misery, such as children or dependents.

Only the most mercenary of individuals will be satisfied with coming out on top of a poorly matched romantic relationship.

The same is true of marketing.

When you’re working on a marketing campaign, matching people with commodities, services or ideas – who wins? Who bears the ethical responsibility?

Is it matched towards an equitable outcome, or is one person receiving less value?

When the seller comes out on top, who pays the real price?

• The consumer, who has parted with their cash for sub-standard goods?
• The environment, which has been polluted so that the buyer/seller may have their needs met?
• The workers, who are underpaid so that their boss up the chain keeps making outsized profits?

What if the buyer comes out on top, due to competitive market forces which dictate a price below it’s true value, resulting in bankruptcy and unemployment for the business and its workers – who wins there?

Some marketers and so called “online marketing gurus” believe this is “the game” and shrug vaguely at the wider cost of their activities.

What about the rest of us – those who believe a win/win scenario is not only possible, but desirable? The ones who really take ethical marketing issues into account. The ones who may not believe in utopian ideals, but would still rather see a hard fought 3-2 win or a 2-2 draw in which both sides have done their best and emerge with their heads held high?

We’re the ones, in short, who believe in true love – no matter how much work it takes.

These people – the ones who take a win/win approach – we’re the ethical marketers.

Can Marketing really be ethical? Short answers: YES! Check out A Fair Fight – Ethical Marketing Part 2.

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