Buzz KILL – A conversation with a company’s ethics officer

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act has been a Buzz Kill for finance and legal people for several years, while we in marketing have watched the action. Lately, though, some of that Buzz Kill is working its way over to us.

It’s the Age of Regulatory Hyperawareness. That means companies are getting stricter about how contracts are evaluated and relationships are cultivated. And it’s a gray area indeed – check out the policy of a major brokerage firm: “You and members of your family may not accept gifts or special favors other than an occasional non-cash gift of “nominal” value from any person or organization with which the firm has a current or potential business relationship.”

IPods, prime rib dinners and Super Bowl tickets would all be over the line under that policy. It’s going to be tough building the relationships you need to execute your Buzz Strategy when all you can offer is drinks at TGI Friday’s!

The good news is that as companies clamp down on this– and you know they will – Buzz Marketers will have plenty of new digital delivery channels (such as the Social Media) to use to market our own unique Buzz!

1 comment to Buzz KILL – A conversation with a company’s ethics officer

  • Peter Altschuler

    I can’t think of a single working relationship between vendor and buyer that can be improved with gifts. If service is lousy or customers aren’t profitable, a giveaway isn’t the cure. Better service, yes. Terminating bad customers, yes. iPods, no.

    When I worked in the film business years ago, the president of a film lab sent not one but two young women to my office. They told me that the lab president had instructed them to do anything I’d like in order to get more business for the lab. I suggested that they find a way to get my dailies on time and release prints that didn’t require multiple attempts to get the color right. That was the last I saw of the young ladies and the last I heard from the lab president.

    So the notion that SarbOx restrictions on business gifts will dampen relationships in the marketing department presumes that loyalty is based on personal favors. If it’s true, then Washington lobbying (think Jack Abramoff) is the model to follow and, if you believe that’s a model worth emulating, you need a better understanding of ethics.

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