Perhaps not. But we are all imperfect humans and Villa has come to terms with it and carries on.
Villa does not make any claims about strict methodology or accuracy. In fact she herself unabashedly says:. We are not the solution makers.
Our work puts the debate on the table, perhaps as a take off point for deeper research. We as academics are taught to be critical, often to such an extent that we become divorced from reality and from questions of efficiency and impact. The fact that we as a society have a taste for sensationalist information can become a matter of disdain for academics.
We like to place ourselves away from society, as observers, dabbling in our rigorous methodologies and categorical frameworks. But what good does that achieve?
Opinion: Give up the fight for the moral high ground
Perhaps our idealism paralyzes us from true action. Villa takes that action because she is not afraid to call herself a businesswoman, she does not criticize the Ice Bucket Challenge, she asks, how is human trafficking going to be next viral cause? What is it that deters academics from declaring that they seek to manipulate society towards better ends? Instead we looked at the Thomson Reuters perception poll on Most Dangerous Transport Systems for Women and snickered at its methodology. Not without reason. We may have reasons to be critical of Thomson Reuters Foundation for shaping the agenda as it does.
It decides which issue is important and then comes up with an eye-catching headline to sell a solution based on limited research. But for all our scholarly disgust with band-aid solutions, what role do we really play?
3M CEO takes moral high ground while Trump equivocates - anlusfeleapho.cf
Maybe it is time we develop an academic culture that churns out more than just doctors who are trained to diagnose every problem, but treat none. Polis Media Agenda Talks are every Tuesday at 5pm and are free and open to the public — details here.
- Seventh Grade: A Comedy.
- Time to seek the moral high ground?: A debate on medical ethics.
- Work Integrated Learning: A Guide to Effective Practice.
Brands are powerful because they are removed from the production process and detached from social and economic life. They are strong because they operate on the cultural, not the economic, level. Brands that attempt to champion political causes and right economic wrongs are exposing themselves to the very real life practices that they are supposed to be divorced from. Because of this, businesses are now paying the price for their complicity and are being held accountable for their ethical record.
From a news point of view, journalists love nothing better than to reveal how a company which says that it supports campaigns against child poverty in the UK is paying kids 10p a day in Thailand to make baseball caps. Those pious companies that have placed cause-related marketing at the centre of their marketing strategies have got themselves in a terrible mess — witness Body Shop and Benetton.
They become judged not on the quality of their products, but on their ethical stance. Recently, Coca-Cola provided a very good example of the mess that judging brands on their social commitment can create. Two weeks later, Coke issued a statement that it would stop forcing schools to sign exclusivity agreements and reduce its logo activity around schools. The problem is that nobody believes these ethical commitments. This is not an argument suggesting companies should avoid public accountability. On the contrary, companies that violate international and national laws should be made accountable, and businesses should make proper use of their company secretaries and communications directors to ensure that the business is acting morally and within the law.
But ethics should be kept away from brands. If companies want to make the world a better place, they should do so through company-level initiatives, not through the brands.
Straight and narrow path to success
Brands should not serve as an opportunity to associate companies with feel-good causes — making low-profile contributions should be enough. In this way companies can provide real practical help, such as offering skills training and expertise to the voluntary sector in a similar way that lawyers provide pro bono advice. Marketing departments could then get on with what they do best — supporting and building their brands rather than having to fight an unwinnable moral war with the media and the protesters.
Sean Brierley is a former deputy editor of Marketing Week and the author of the Advertising Handbook.
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