Indian Advertisements, Indian Consumers and Ethical Conundrum: Confusopoly?
This case study enables an interesting discussion on marketing ethics and social responsibility. In India, despite the regulatory bodies like Advertising Standards Council of India‘s (ASCI) measures to protect consumers from misleading advertisements, the deluge of such ads continues to haunt consumers. The case study helps differentiate between misleading ads and ethical marketing and unravel the myths and realities behind creative exaggeration. It briefs about the strategies on how marketers target the vulnerable consumers, tinker with their perceptions and mislead them focusing on the significance of the regulatory body ASCI and the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA). However, amidst this communication clutter there are brands which had been advocating cause-related marketing, and green marketing. Why do brands leap into campaigns which involve creative exaggeration? Where should marketers draw the line? For the programs devised by the regulatory authorities to be truly successful, there has to be a change in the overall communication landscape. Suitable for understanding the concept of marketing ethics this case study questions the credibility of the regulatory bodies to put an effective tab on the unethical marketing practices.
Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding (PCU)/and Prior Viewing
The students/participants should be encouraged to read the following mandatory reading bereft of which a meaningful discussion and adequate analysis of this case study wouldn’t be possible:
- • Leon G. Schiffman, et al., “Marketing Ethics and Social Responsibility”, Consumer Behavior, 10th Edition,Pearson Publications, 2010 – To understand what is responsible marketing and identify the major social and ethical criticisms of marketing
The following videos must be watched for detailed analysis of this case study:
- • “IDEA: Haryana”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgUhZl9ZPVA, January 12th 2015 (accessed date: June 2nd 2015)
- • “MAGGI veg atta noodles”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=251LzQ4tu78, January 2nd 2015 (accessed date: June 2nd 2015)
- • “Horlicks Exam Time”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_LRg-w1UHc, March 13th 2012 (accessed date: June 2nd 2015)
Case Positioning and Setting
This case study can be used in MBA, Executive MBA or Executive Development Programs, for the following course:
- • Consumer Behaviour Course: for “Marketing Ethics and Social Responsibility” – To examine the perils of unethical marketing and the role of cause related marketing and social responsibility and define how marketers can advance society’s interests via such practices.
- I. What do you understand by Exploitive Targeting and what are the different forms of exploitive targeting? From the case facts, can you establish how a few Indian companies, through their objectionable advertisements, resort to exploitive targeting? What according to you would be the ideal way to curb such unwarranted practices?
- II. How do companies manipulate consumers? How do you think the companies (and their advertisements) highlighted in the case study tinker with consumer perceptions and possibly mislead them?
- III. .............
Preamble to the Case Analysis
This case study is meant to sensitize the participants/students to the overt and covert marketing/business practices that companies adopt to “influence” the buying decisions. Marketing ethics and social responsibility are being touted as subjects of self-restraint, self-regulation and self-discipline. An effective and efficient regulatory mechanism is also warranted to ensure that enough deterrents are enforced to exact a responsible conduct from the companies.
Through several instances of exploitive targeting and manipulating consumers, this case study meanders through the ethical conundrums augmenting students/participants’ questioning on moral standings of many a business practices. Accordingly, this case study can be orchestrated in the classroom in the suggested manner.
The classroom discussion and analysis for this case study was facilitated under four broad sections as explained through the Classroom Orchestration [Exhibit (TN)-I]...........