Branding guru Martin Lindstrom has made a living off of calling out shady marketing practices. Now, with the emergence of whistle-blowing organisations like WikiLeaks, he has an intriguing view of what’s coming in the future for marketing ethics.
Here’s what Lindstrom had to say about the topic in a recent Fast Company column:
“My prediction for 2012 is a rise in the importance of ethics. I foresee a kind of WikiLeaks emerging to tackle the maneuvrings of less-ethical brands. The move will come from an independent organisation with the sole mission of disclosing what those companies are up to. Most companies will be vulnerable to being targeted, despite having some sort of written standards. You see, in most cases, the small print is far too complex and removed from consumers’ daily reality. The safety net as designed will hardly save a soul.
The smart brand players out there should spend the next few years cleaning up their house. Honestly, you won’t find it that difficult.”
In the US, most of the scrutiny against questionable marketing practices has been in the form of false or deceptive advertising lawsuits.
But that’s not the only way brands manipulate people in ways that could be deemed unethical. Some marketers use plenty of other dubious tactics to get people to buy things, preying on children, fear and anything else that can be used to their advantage.
Ethics and marketing don’t go very well to begin with. Its entire purpose is to manipulate every day people into purchases, which if unchecked, can invite moral hazard.
Would a powerful, independent, WikiLeaks-like watchdog benefit consumers? What about the brands?
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