Friday, June 15, 2007

Seth Godin is wrong on CSR

Marketing Guru Seth Godin has an interesting call for Marketers. He sees Corporate Social Responsibility as a part of Marketing department. Please follow the link below to get the full article.
Responsibility by Seth Godin

I feel very hard to agree with Seth. Corporate Social Responsibility matters but that does not relate so directly to the Marketers as he said. It is more of the concern to the top most level of the company, board of directors or CEO to think about it. Marketing department is built to increase sales, and they do it. No matters whats the result. He cannot be held responsible for what he markets. But he will certainly be responsible for not being to market the product.

Marketing should just focus on two things:
1. Short and medium term sales
2. Long term prospects and brand management

It is well outside of the Marketing department to think of the effect of the product on the society. Better board and the government look at those matters and give guidelines to the Marketing geeks. Their duty is to be within the given guidelines and market as much as possible.

I would simply call Seth's remark as a try to put human face to marketing. But it is not that simple. Human Values differ from people to people and no people will go against his values.

I, as a Marketing Hobbyist, will happily market Tobacco or Liquor products if I am given the tasks. I will try to sale to each and every market (all demographics, all age groups) provided that is legal. And if anyone calls me weak in values, I would simply consider him a emotional fool.

I was once member of the pioneer organization for Human Values, Vivekananda Nidhi. I would like to share few things I learned there with you guys. There are four values.
1. Personal Value
2. Professional Value
3. Organizational Value
4. Social Value

While many times in life these values work in the same direction, sometimes they tend to contradict each other. In the case of contradiction, it is wise to prioritize personal the most, then professional, organizational and lastly social. (People may chose any hierarchy of priority. It is absolutely personal. The given priority is just the generalization of the common priority set by most successful people and influential leaders over time.)

Now, I take CSR as a part of Social Value which is of least priority among four. It does not mean I don't give any importance to it. Of-course any value has very high importance in anyone's life. The only point I want to mention here is, it is in conflict with the other two values, Professional and Organizational.

Some may have this case attached to his personal value (I think, Seth does). If someone feel that the publicity of Tobacco (which he is marketing) is not good and he should stop, then I would call his resignation from the Marketing Post for that product. His Personal Value asks that. And he should do that. But in case he remains in the posts and try to be undermine his professional and organizational gain, he will probably end up being the most unhappy person and an unsuccessful marketer.

So I would like to contradict Seth's statement on "Responsibility" and call marketer to be more responsible to themselves, their profession and their company than bothering about the social cause. After all people and organization make society, and not otherwise.


Craig said...

Interesting post.

Would you market guns or drugs? Would you sell alcohol to your kids?

I think your comment on ranking values is a good oint. Godin probably places community values higher than professional ones.

Le_Plan said...

Thanks for stopping in my blog and commenting.

Well, the answers to your questions are there with the legal department. So I will stay away from it.:)

I too feel the same. He has high regards for his community values. Betn, you didn't put forward your views. I will be happy to see what you value more.


Adelino de Almeida said...

Good points. All in all social responsibility should probably be treated the same way as professional responsibility.
I am undecided as to whether this is something that a company should regulate; however, should it be regulated, perhaps the Legal Dept. would be the most appropriate owner.
Seth seems like the new Tom Peters in the way he hypes little things, and that he takes a narcissistic view of every business problem.

Le_Plan said...

Thanks for the comment. We tend to share same values :).


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