September 13, 2006
Marketers must take responsibility for
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. airs a commercial portraying
a monster in a youngster's bedroom. The actor-father
tells the child not to be afraid because PG&E lights
will stay on.
Hummer advertises on television that drivers of their automobiles
can bully their way, any place and any time. Aren't such
values despicable, even harmful for children and our culture?
Yes, using visual scare tactics - creating anxiety for
children - is not as cute as it is cruel. PG&E has
chosen to sell its brand inappropriately. During one
of our public management workshops, titled MBA Impact:
Essentials, I asked a participant, an educator, at what
age a child grasps sarcasm and innuendo. Her response: "When
they are juniors or seniors in high school."
So, why would a marketing-savvy organization like PG&E risk upsetting thoughtful
and caring parents, during prime time, when there are other clever ways to communicate
its message? Making children the "butt" of jokes is not appropriate
and needs to be pulled from the airwaves, immediately.
The Hummer commercial is also troublesome. Selling an
oversized highway-approved motorized steel vehicle
as a weapon for retaliation is simply inappropriate.
Those who are politically correct already challenge the socially-unresponsive
aspects of gas-guzzling vehicles. Why would successful marketers complicate social
insensitivity by promoting rude behavior? Today, with violence and insensitivity
on the rise among adults and children, encouraging any behavior other than kindness
is not wise. Hummer advertisers need a more "civil" way to capture
the attention of potential buyers.
Businesses and organizations with quality products and
services (and legitimate brands) do not need to appeal
to cruel and insensitive motives to be successful.
PG&E and Hummer are not breaking laws, either federal nor state.
But they are failing to leverage their best assets. They
are not building on the constructive values that make
up the Bracher Center's Eight Attributes of an Integrity-Centered
Company: character, honesty, openness, authority, partnership,
performance, charity and graciousness.
Organizations with integrity do not intentionally "poke
fun" at children, of any age, who are our future hope.