Dear Marketers: You’re not smarter than the consumer

File this under: Transparency, Schmansparency. I just gave a Word of Mouth 101 presentation at work today and of course talked about ethics. How timely that I was able to point to this as an example:

The journal has a report on Whole Foods CEO John Mackey posting on message boards promoting his company while simultaneously pissing on Wild Oats – anonymously, under a fake name. Wow. My first question is, that as the CEO, how are you spending your days? I understand that there are things that “keep you up at night”. But with all that cheddar, this is how you’re spending your free time? I’m dumbfounded by this report, to be honest. The second is, did you think you wouldn’t get caught?

I would really appreciate a comment from the folks at Whole Foods on this one to explain it.

I told the crowd at work today, just as I’ve told every audience I’ve spoken to over the years — it never pays off to not be transparent. I’ve rarely seen instances where people get mad that companies are open and honest and engage the community, rather than, well, what we’re seeing here. Companies stand to gain nothing by it. Literally.

I’ll offer this plea on behalf of consumers: Marketers, please stop thinking you’re not smarter than consumers. Everything online is tracked and traceable. Stealth marketing does not work.

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