Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Truth Expected

The day before the integrity article appeared in Advertising Age (see below), Jim Blackburn wrote an opinion piece for the Houston Chronicle “Outlook” section. You can read the entire article here – or read this take-out:

I want truth from the corporations in my community. I know that corporations must make a profit. I acknowledge that aspect of a corporation, and so should the company. By definition, a corporation is an entity that is created to generate profit (unless the entity is a nonprofit corporation). I hope that other goals and objectives enter into corporate thinking, but all of us should recognize that profit is a primary concern – and please do not disrespect me by pretending otherwise.

Similarly, when there is a crisis or a problem, I expect the truth. Don’t tell us that there is no problem when one exists. The priority in an accident is the safety and health of the community.

Blackburn is not only an environmental lawyer. He’s a professor of the subject in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Rice University. This is clearly stated in the article’s descriptive paragraph about him.

I point this out because this blog is supposed to be about marketing and advertising and so is this post. Blackburn specifically asks, “What should we ask of corporations in our lives?” His answers are as much about marketing as they are about environmentalism.

Blackburn’s expectations, in order, include competency, truth (see above), relationship, respect and trust, conscience, social contract, a view to the future, and partnership. It seems to him that these concepts are “good starting points” for change. They’re just as valid for advertising as they are for production or operations.

(So yes, we’re talking about the Stakeholder Rule© again). Am I belaboring this unmercifully? I’m waiting for more advertisers to catch on to the idea that social interactions can influence how brands are perceived in the marketplace, and how the companies behind those brands perform.

This is an issue for every worker, every consumer…every stakeholder, in fact. Join the vanguard of our particular “proletariat” – the class of people who want to hold the owners of capital and the means of production responsible and responsive. Besides, if you always tell the truth, you won’t have to remember what stories you make up.

“Stakeholder Rule” © Richard Laurence Baron. All rights reserved.

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