Social marketing: Immunizing against unethical practice

Stephen Holden, Damian Cox

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Extract: Do you think that social marketing is more ethical than commercial marketing? If you do, you are in good company, as straw polls we have taken at conferences show that virtually everyone (95% or more) thinks so. But what justifies this belief? Social marketers may be well meaning,and perhaps more so than commercial marketers, but is there anything about social marketing that makes it inherently ethical?
We argue that social marketing is not inherently ethical and that there are unique ethical concerns that confront, or perhaps ought to confront,social marketers. As commercial and social marketers use the same marketing tools, social marketers cannot claim to be inherently more ethical than commercial marketers in terms of the 'means'. We may well hope that social marketers subscribe to a high standard of ethics in their use of marketing tools, as has been urged by some (Kirby & Andreasen,2001; Kotler & Andreasen, 2007; Murphy & Bloom, 1992), but there is certainly no assurance that they do so simply because they are social marketers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContemporary issues in social marketing
EditorsK Kubacki, S Rundle-Thiele
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9781443850247
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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