Archive for October, 2010

Is Stealth Marketing Unethical?

October 22nd, 2010

I’ve been a fan of Demi Moore and David Duchovny for many years now; Demi as early as Indecent Proposal and David from early childhood watching the X-Files.  Upon receiving “The Joneses” via Netflix (my promotion of Netflix) I was excited to learn they were in it.  To be honest, I had no idea what the movie was about until reading the movie description on the sleeve.  However, I was quickly enthralled by the concept and kept me interested.  The movie’s main storyline focused on the extremities of stealth marketing.  The notion of marketing being subliminal is spot on for our generation as we live in a material world.

Stealth marketing is deceptive when personal interest is not being disclosed.  In this movie, Demi and David are part of a massive scheme to push out various products to their community while staying under radar that they are being paid commission to do so by their employer.  This movie portrays the well known phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses” as it drives a neighbor into bankruptcy and eventually suicide.  We encounter this type of marketing in our own lives, at the stores we shop in, even though we might not realize it. For example, many nutritional products that are sold at our local vitamin stores have a kick back incentive for their sales reps that have been set up by the vendors.  In addition, electronic stores have similar programs to push out certain brands or extra warranties.

Perhaps most importantly, this movie was just plain interesting to watch because it exaggerated what seems to be the obvious.  Maybe it wasn’t an exaggeration at all. Maybe it’s reality that we don’t think about because we are consumed by our possessions.  It made me think of how we subliminally pitch the brands we utilize in the various facets of our lives to our family and friends and sometimes even strangers.  But we do this because we truly enjoy the products and are not being paid to like them or promote them.  I believe stealth marketing is only ethical when it is genuine, such as word of mouth.  Word of mouth and buzz has longevity when it is second nature and not promoted with a personal motive.  It is important to engage your brand with social media and have nature take its course with brand ambassadors and it will be rewarded with brand development.

Is stealth marketing part of your marketing arsenal?

Flickr photo courtesy madmolecule