Does Buyer Beware trump ethics in marketing?
When do ideas cross the line between innovative marketing and unethical behaviour? What responsibilities do we have as we get more access to data and direct reach? We will meet to discuss if there are boundaries to innovation and hopefully create some rules of engagement. As an example we’ll use the case of the Columbia House Record Club. For almost 50 years getting music for free meant sending in a postage paid postcard with a penny and in return receiving 12 free records — for a membership and the promise of future purchases. Columbia House was the largest of the record-club companies and thanks to the innovative marketing ideas by 1994 they had shipped more than a billion records and averaged $500-million-a-year. Unfortunately most of the record clubs’ two million customers failed to read the fine print and the same success can be charged with introducing several generations of America’s youth to the concept of collection agencies and stealing music.