Socially Responsible Marketing vs. Purveyors of Unhappiness

On pages 31 and 32 of Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy, there is a great example of what I am struggling with in my senior study on socially responsible marketing. On those pages he lays out a scenario that most all of us encounter on a regular basis–irrational desire provoked by advertising. After describing a situation where you lie awake at night thinking about a Ginsu knife or you purchase an SUV which you will never take off road, McKibben says, “Such thoughts are not rational; in fact, they set us up for as much unhappiness as pleasure.”

I realize that in the world of traditional marketing, marketers do not feel responsibility to anything more than selling the product. However, for those of us who wish to do business in a socially responsible way, how do we avoid being “purveyors of unhappiness?” How do we successfully and responsibly present our products or organizations so as to improve the lives of the people who encounter our message? Finally, should those involved in marketing and public relations for organizations that are seeking to create social change in the world be any more responsible to the consumer than someone creating ads for Paris Hilton’s new perfume?

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1 comment so far

  1. Christy on

    Found your blog through Twitter. As someone striving to run a socially responsible business, I really appreciate this information. Thanks!


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