Leadership & Responsibility – Ethical Marketing Part 4

In our previous blog (BUD: An Ethical Marketing Manifesto), we established that in order to be an ethical marketer one needs to first be an ethical individual, and that comes down to your decisions. 

Hold up – so how do you decide whether something is ethical or not? Good question – let’s explore…

There is a sweet spot between hubris and humility, and this is where ethical leadership takes place.

So how do you decide whether something is ethical or not? What does ethical mean in different circumstances?

This is the hard part – you must stop pissing around with excuses. Because this is all about you, your personal responsibility and your willingness to ask (and answer) hard questions.

Unfortunately, there’s no cheat sheet – you need to develop your own perspective without taking anyone’s word for it.

When you take ethical issues in marketing into account and make an ethical decision about marketing, it necessarily involves others – nobody is marketing to a vacuum (except for you, Jamie). 

So, given that your marketing and sales strategy inevitably involves others, you’re either:

  1. Taking responsibility that this is something they need (positive);
  2. Feigning ignorance that it’s got nothing to do with you and you’re just doing your job (false neutral); 
  3. Acknowledging that they don’t need it and likewise deciding you simply don’t care (capitalism; oops sorry I mean: negative).

Marketing: The Hitler Question

At the heart of the equation is the classic philosophical equation: if you could go back in time and kill Hitler as a baby, would you do it?

Don’t answer – the answer is pointless.

As with all these juvenile contrarian “devil’s advocate” catch 22 style scenarios, it’s merely a thought experiment. Hitler was not the root cause, Hitler was the outcome – you need to look at everything from the Dreyfus Affair to the Franco-Prussian War to the European project itself going back to the development of the French Republic, the nation state, the monarchy, tribalism and so forth through the mists of time.

…but I digress!

The point is:

  • what can you influence?
  • what do you choose to influence?
  • what do you choose to ignore?

So, would you do it?

Before you ponder that question too deeply, check out the next part in the series where we answer The Hitler Question while attempting to provide a definitive framework for basing these thorny ethical equations on: The Ethical Value Chain & how it works.

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