Home » Ethical Dilemma #2: Half-baked Marketing - A Justice vs. Mercy Dilemma.
As promised, here's the second of five ethical dilemmas to test your ethical muscles and the CROA's draft Ethics Code. After you read the scenario and deliberate on the choices, check out the Ethics Code and then let us know how it helped guide your decision. Share how you'd answer this dilemma and how the Ethics Code helped (or didn't).
John is the CSO at Smith & Co, a toaster-oven manufacturer. Smith & Co retained Evans Strategic On-Line Marketing and pays it to improve Smith & Co’s share in the toaster-oven market. Smith & Co pays Evans a fee, the size of which is related to how much online market-share they win for Smith. Evans promises an increased market-share through search engine and consumer communications techniques. The board, on which John sits, signs off on the deal and John votes in support.
It turns out Evans recruits a couple of contractors who populate sites like Amazon with fake positive reviews for the Smith & Co product. The press got wind of this and the story breaks.
You are the CRO at Jones Bros, a competitor of Smith & Co. Your company thought of retaining Evans Strategic On-Line Marketing a year ago, but you, the CRO, got involved in the procurement process and discovered their underhanded methods and influenced your company not to use Evans for ethical and reputation reasons. You bring a complaint to the CROA ethics board against John.
After receiving the complaint, John sends you an email saying he had no knowledge of Evan’s methods and relied on the Chief Marketing Officer’s endorsement in voting for them. He asks that you intervene with the ethics committee.
How does the code guide you and the ethics board in making a decision?