Ethical Expectations and Public Values


Ethical expectations are a vital part of the business environment. The public expects business to be ethical and wants corporate managers to apply ethical principles—in other words, guidelines about what is right and wrong, fair and unfair, and morally correct—when they make business decisions.

In the global arena, ethical standards—and even what is meant by ethics—can vary from one society to another. In spite of differences in ethical meanings, cultural variation does not automatically rule out common ethical agreement being reached among people of different societies.

Human rights issues have become more prominent and important for business. For many years that pressure was exerted on South Africa’s political leaders to halt racially discriminatory practices of apartheid and its business leaders to challenge the South African government’s enforcement of the policy.

The question is not, ‘Should business be ethical?’ nor is it, ‘Should business be economically different?’ Society wants business to be both at the same time. Ethical behavior is a key aspect of corporate social performance. To maintain public support and credibility—that is, business legitimacy—businesses must find ways to balance and integrate these two social demands: high economic performance and high ethical standards. When a company and its employees act ethically in dealings with other stakeholders, they are improving the organization’s contribution as a social actor. When they fail to act ethically, there is the risk of losing the public support an organization needs to be credible and successful.

Business leaders are faced with the continuing challenge of meeting public expectations that are, themselves, always changing. Yesterday’s acceptable behavior may not be tolerated today. Many forms of harassment and discrimination were once common. Today, however, social standards make such actions unacceptable. Public expectations of service and ethical behavior are as relevant to a business as customer expectations regarding products such as automobiles and computers.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Message Content in Marketing Communications


Message content deals with what is said in a message and how it is said. There are five common content topics that have great relevance for marketing practitioners: 1) fear appeals; 2) the use of humor; 3) the role of music; 4) sex appeals; and 5) subliminal messages. Advertisers, salespersons, public relations spokespersons, and other marketing communicators use all of these message styles to varying degrees in hopes of gaining attention, achieving impact, and ultimately producing sales.

Fear Appeals: Companies sometimes use fear appeals in attempting to motivate customers to action. The underlying logic when using fear appeals is that fear will stimulate audience involvement with a message and thereby promote acceptance of message arguments. The appeals may take the form of social disapproval or physical danger aside from the basic ethical issue of whether fear should be used at all, the fundamental issue for marketing communicators is determining how intense the fear presentation should be. Numerous fear-appeal studies have been performed by psychologists and marketing researchers, but the fact remains that there still is no consensus on the “optimum” level of fear. Some Neither extremely strong nor very weak fear appeals are maximally effective. It seems that appeals at a somewhat moderate level of fear are best.

Humor: Politicians, actors and actresses, after-dinner speakers, professors, and indeed all of us at one time or another use humor to create a desired reaction. Salespeople and advertisers also turn to humor in the hopes of achieving various communication objectives. Whether humor is effective and what kinds of humor are most successful are matters of some debate among marketing communications practitioners and scholars.

Despite the frequent use of humor in advertising, relatively little is known in a definitive scientific sense about its effects on customer behavior. However there are some generalizations:

  • Humorous messages attract attention.
  • Humor can inhibit consumers’ understanding of the intended meaning of a message.
  • Because humor is a pleasant form of distraction, it can produce an increase in persuasion by effectively “disarming” receivers’ natural selective perception and reducing their tendencies toward counter arguing with persuasive selling claims.
  • Humor tends to enhance source credibility, thereby improving the persuasive impact of an ad message.
  • A humorous context may increase liking for the source and create a positive mood, thereby enhancing the persuasive effect of the message.
  • To the extent that a humorous context functions as a positive reinforce, a persuasive communication placed in such a context may be more effective.
  • The effects of humor can differ due to differences in audience characteristics. Advertisers must use humor carefully since consumers display a variety of tastes in what is humorous and what is not.

Music: celebrated musicians, as well as, non-vocal accompaniment and unknown vocalists are used extensively in promoting everything. Music performs useful communication functions such as attracting attention, putting consumers in a positive mood, and making them more respective to message arguments. Although music’s role in marketing is an increasingly understand subject, a few recent studies have begun to demonstrate the roles that music performs. Music is an unconditional stimulus in an effort to influence experimental subjects’ preference.

Sex Appeals: Sex appeals in advertising are often explicit. The use of explicit sex was unthinkable just a few years ago, it now represents part of a new trend toward more sexually explicit advertising. Sexual explicitness is prevalent and overt in some countries. Whether such advertising is effective and under what conditions it may be effective remain largely unexplored issues. Complicating the matter is the fact that sex in advertising actually takes two forms: nudity and suggestiveness. It is uncertain which form is more effective. There are several potential roles. First, sexual material in advertising acts as an initial attentional lure and also holds attention for a longer period, given that the models are attractive or the scene is pleasant. This is called the “stopping power” role of sex. A second potential role is to enhance recall. Sexual content or symbolism will enhance recall only if it is appropriate to the product category and the creative advertising execution. Sexual appeals produce significantly better recall only if the advertising execution has an appropriate relationship with the advertised product. A third role performed by sexual content in advertising is to evoke emotional response such as feelings of attraction or even lust.

Subliminal Messages: the word subliminal refers to the presentation of stimuli at a rate or level that is below the conscious threshold of awareness. Stimuli that cannot be perceived by the conscious senses may nonetheless be perceived subconsciously. This possibility has generated considerable concern from advertising critics and has fostered much speculation from researchers.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Markets as Networks


Actual firm relationships must be seen on a spectrum between outright competition at one end and collusion at the other. At the very least, such a self-evident observation raises the issue of the firm (or business unit) as the basic, and often only, unit of analysis: in certain circumstances we might more appropriately consider an information coalition of such firms as the key unit.

Earlier, the border of the company was seen as the dividing line between co-operation and conflict – cooperation within the company and conflict in relation to all external units. The corresponding means for coordination are heirarchy and the market mechanism. The existence of relationships makes this picture more diffuse. There are great opportunities for cooperation with a lot of external units forming, for example, coalitions. Thus, it is often more fruitful to see the company as a part of a network instead of a free and independent actor in an atomistic martket.

However, the recognition that there is a network of relationships is merely the first step. Approaches need to be developed for the analysis of the network.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Planning to Plan


The purpose of the first step in the strategic planning process is to develop among key internal decision makers an initial agreement about the overall strategic planning effort and main planning steps. This represents a kind of “plan to plan.”

The support and commitment of key decision makers are vital if strategic planning and change are to succeed. But the importance o their early involvement goes beyond the need for their support and commitment. They supply information vital to the planning effort: who should be involved, when key decision points will occur, and what arguments are likely to be persuasive at various points in the process. They can also provide critical resources legitimacy, staff assignments, a budget, and meeting space.

Every strategic planning effort is in effect a story or play that must have the correct setting; themes; plots and subplots; actors; scenes; beginning, middle, and conclusion; and interpretation. Only key decision makers have access to enough information and resources to allow for the effective development and direction of such a story.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight