Stealth Marketing and Ethics Code

Kate Kaye has written an essay on word of mouth marketing. It raises some interesting discussion points, not least of which being her belief that stealth marketing isn’t a significant issue in Word of Mouth issues.

Jonathan over at the Mouthpiece blog responds:

I disagree with that for two reasons. First, I think the stealth issue is extremely important. If message board seeding and fake blogs and “bar leaners” were allowed to proliferate, that would have been terrible for society and also terrible for marketers. Second, I believe that stealth was a very appropriate thing for a trade association to focus on. It is a black and white issue – no one can really argue that it is not unethical, and it is most likely illegal as well, as it breaks the ftc code around truth in advertising.

Completely agree. Those of us working to create marketing efforts based on creating connection between consumers and companies know that there’ s no issue more significant than stealth marketing. Let’s call Stealth Marketing what it really is – Traditional Marketing. It’s more of the same: playing loose and fast with the facts.

If marketers working in Word of Mouth, Consumer Interaction concepts want to continue in this field, they’d better do everything in their power to root out and destroy Stealth Marketing efforts. When people wonder what the true motivations of their friends are for suggesting certain products/services, we’re all out of a job.

The rest of the ethics discussion doesn’t matter if Stealth Marketing doesn’t take top billing.


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