As instructed, I have reviewed the scenario, identified the ethical values being scrutinized and recommended the correct course of action that the company should take. I have supported all these with reference to the marketing standards set by the American Marketing Association Statement of Ethics.
Scenario (Case C)
John Michael Smythe’s marketing research firm has conducted a research for the Ohio Department of Economic Development about new car purchase plans, involving 2,500 respondents. Car dealer offers john, whose firm is on the verge of bankruptcy, $8,000 for the phone numbers and names of the respondents who are likely to buy a new car within the next one year. John desperately needs the money to keep his firm running and to avoid laying off employees, most of whom are sole breadwinners in their families.
It would be completely unethical for John Michael Smythe to sell the names and phone numbers of the respondents who indicated that they were likely to buy a car soon. Since the research had been commissioned by the Ohio Department of Economic Development and John’s firm had already been paid for their work, and the report would now have become the property of the Department Of Economc Development. Selling the names and phone numbers would amount to violation of customer’s trust as dealing between a customer and a firm should be strictly confidential.
According to the American Marketing Association Statement Of ethics, any marketing firm or organization should embrace ethical values through building firm relationships with customers while enhancing consumer confidence in the integrity of marketing through affirmation of the values of honesty, responsibility, fairness transparency, and citizenship (AMA). Selling of the names and phone numbers of the respondent would be acting in direct contradictions of these norms.
The American Marketing Organization has set basic ethical values to be embraced by all the players in the marketing sector and John Smythe would be violating them in the following ways;
All players in the marketing sector should reject any form of manipulation and sales tactics that would potentially harm the trust of customers. The customer, in this case the Ohio Department of Economic Development, expects the information shared between them and John Smyth’s firm to be confidential, and if John decides to sell the list of names with an aim to keep his firm running, he would not be acting in fairness to his customer.
All players in the marketing sector should honor all their explicit commitments and policies (AMA). If John goes behind his customer’s back and sells the list of positive respondents, he will not have honored his commitment to the Ohio Department of Economic Development. Although his firm is on the verge of bankruptcy, he should resort to more honorable means of raising capital.
All players should, at the end of every financial period, disclose list prices and terms of financing as well as available price deals and adjustments (AMA). Assuming that John Smythe accepted $8,000 from the car dealer in exchange for the list of names and phone numbers of positive respondents, it would surely not be shown in the financial records as a “sale of confidential customer information”. Rather, the capital would be indicated as being from another legal source, hence contravening the transparency code.
It is imperative that the students note that there must be a level playing field for all the players in the marketing sector. The aim of the American Marketing Association is to ensure that no marketing firm gains any unfair advantage whatsoever by contravening the ethical values outlined in the statement of ethics.