Jobber (2001, as cited in Hastings & Saren, 2003:307) cautioned that in popular parlance, marketing has earned itself a bad name and has often been equated with “deception and exploitation” intent on pushing forward capitalist and materialist agendas.
As a result of these beliefs, many have written marketing off as an activity that focuses on material consumption and that has become “manipulative, deceptive and intrusive” in nature (Quelch, 2009 online).
Farmer (1967) contributed a seminal journal article with the poignant and humourous title of ‘Would You Want Your Daughter to Marry a Marketing Man?’, which you can download here.
His contentions were twofold: marketing, a field which he argued had “a generally uninspiring future”, is both unethical and irrelevant (Farmer, 1967:1). His overall assessment of marketing is that it attempts to persuade gullible consumers to part with their money and purchase commodities which they do not need, let alone want.
Social marketing has unwittingly inherited some of the stereotypical perceptions generally associated with mainstream marketing to such an extent that some social marketers often face criticism and accusations that their work deals with “manipulation and sales” (Kotler & Lee, 2008:3).
Donovan (2009 online), seemingly undisturbed by Jobber’s and Farmer’s interpretations of the perception that marketing activity conveys, convincingly posits that “if marketing is a “capitalist tool”, then social marketing is a “social capitalist” tool”, in that the objective of a social marketer is not financial gain, but societal gain.