Here's introducing today's guest post from David Frank!
[Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in all guest posts are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the comic authors or Basho himself.]
Full disclosure: I’m a marketer. I don’t just appear on the marketing spectrum, I identify as a fully fledged marketer.
One thing that never ceases to shock me is the reaction I get from some people when I tell them I’m a marketer. “What do you do?” is, after all, a question to new acquaintances that comes shortly after introductions. You’d think social contracts would hold, but not always.
“I’m a marketer” I say. Pause. Some people let microexpressions slip, but continue along well enough. But every now and then people reply with a statement about how they hate marketers. “They make (or trick) us into buying things we don’t need” they complain. Many ask “have you heard the Bill Hicks standup routine* about how marketers should go kill themselves?”
“Yes, I have heard it” I say. This never stops them from explaining and quoting the routine.
“He then pretends to be a marketer and says ‘Oh, you know what he’s doing? He’s going for that anti-marketing dollar. That’s a good market!’ Haha!”
Okay, granted, the routine is pretty funny, but that doesn’t change the fact that a person I have just met has at worst just insulted me, and at best put me on the spot to defend my field.
My response has two parts. The first is an utterly futile attempt to defend the group which they have lumped me in with. But I go ahead anyway and ask if people like a wide range of product choices, or have a preference for a variant of a product. A different flavour of snack, perhaps? Personally I am partial to KitKat Chunky chocolate bars. We can thank marketing for the research that resulted in that.
I even take a page from weapons scientists and ask if knowledge of consumer behaviour should be locked up? It’s there, and will continue to be developed.
But really, the only mature answer is that yes, there are some very immoral uses of marketing, but I personally have never worked for an immoral company. In fact, I quit one job on my first day to be able to say this. (They were involved in deceptive labelling practices.) I consult with small businesses, often struggling ones, and have believed in every product at every company I have worked for. I do lots of pro-bono work for charities, especially in science education. I even make decisions on which marketing techniques I’m willing to use: is guilt-tripping ethical, how much customer data shall I gather and keep, and so on.
At the end of the day I can’t change the industry, but I can choose my clients. And I can choose to live and work in a way I believe is ethical.
Now if only stop people would baulking when they find out the postgrad degree I’m doing is a Masters of Science in Marketing.
David Frank is a marketer, teacher and
evil bastard juggler. Hailing originally from Perth, Australia, he’s currently studying a MSc Marketing at Edinburgh Napier University. He identifies as a consequentialist. He has run philosophy cafe events in Australia and Scotland, and tours live shows exposing the tricks marketers use on us. You can read more about him at davidfrank.com.au.