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Reach or Ethics: Is It Acceptable to Sacrifice One for the Other?



Is there anything called ethics in marketing and planning campaigns or marketers can get away with ROI?

So recently everyone is angry or sad or praising Poonam Pandey for faking her death in order to spread awareness about cervical cancer and this campaign was planned by a renowned advertising agency. Take a look at it through Brew-Lens.

Is it acceptable to manipulate a sensitive issue like cancer, a term intertwined with fear, grief, loss, and death, for any marketing strategy? Turning a matter that resonates with millions of people’s emotions into a marketing ploy is not only distasteful but also deeply concerning for marketers, given its potential to negatively impact individuals.As the agency is showing data that it sparked conversion about cervical cancer and it increased the search for cervical cancer 200 times greater, we appreciate that but the way it’s done is that sensitive enough ? We feel it draws attention to Poonam Pandey rather than the cancer and its vaccine itself ! The surge in online searches for Poonam Pandey, surpassing those for cervical cancer, is not the desired outcome of the campaign.

Is it not a concern that neither the advertising agency that designed the campaign nor those who approved it seem to have anyone among them who has experienced the challenging phase of battling cancer for themselves or their loved ones?

India holds the second position in cervical cancer cases, with millions of women hesitating to openly discuss gynaecological issues. Among the 511.4 million women aged 15 years and older in India, there is a significant risk of cervical cancer. Initiating a conversation about breaking the taboo surrounding these topics is crucial to raising awareness about the cervical cancer vaccine.

Turning attention to recent marketing campaigns, the H&M “Back to School” campaign has drawn criticism for its highly inappropriate content. The caption “Turn those Heads” accompanying school dresses has sparked outrage, as it objectifies schoolgirls and raises concerns about attracting potential predators. In a society where a significant number of underage girls and boys experience sexual abuse, such portrayals are seen as irresponsible. Companies like H & M, championing sustainability and environmental causes, bear a social responsibility in their campaign planning.

The overarching question emerges: must marketers compromise their values and ethics for business campaigns, or is there a viable way to balance both objectives effectively? As a comprehensive marketing agency, we believe that where there’s determination, there’s a solution. Marketing extends beyond short-term gains; it serves as a means to cultivate a genuine connection with consumers, fostering brand loyalty and enduring support. Notably, 71% of Gen Z appreciates brands that engage with social issues and address them with sensitivity. To all fellow marketers, irrespective of size or status, it’s a cautionary note: before implementing any strategy, consider its impact on the audience. This involves assessing not only the ROI but also the mindshare, value, and trust it generates. Otherwise in this era of “Cancel Culture,” the repercussions of a single misstep are unpredictable.

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