Editorial: Less Than a Carbon Sink?

Letters to the editor featuring creative insults make writing this editorial so much easier. Check out the following line from an e-mail that arrived last week:

“Here’s a thought: Why not SPARE THE TREES? The potential carbon sink is worth far more than the pages of iMarketing News.”

Ouch. You know you’ve really been insulted when you have to look up terms.

However, earlier in the e-mail, in which the author complained of difficulty removing herself from iMarketing News’ mailing list, she touched on an important misperception that has begun to surface repeatedly in letters to the editor here.

“I tried to ‘OPT OUT’ [She apparently also likes to yell] on the Web and found that choice is not available. Hmmm … kind of makes your ‘marketers are honorable’ message a bit farcical, doesn’t it? I’m sure the only person capable of feigning surprise at that notion, however, is you.”

Actually, what is surprising is that anyone would think that a marketing or advertising trade editor would think for a second that all marketers are honorable. We’ve all been around marketing and advertising executives long enough to know that many are anything but honorable, especially when their fiscal asses are up against the wall.

But as sure as we know that Manhattan will stink in August, we know that following every pro-marketing editorial, especially those on privacy or spam, the e-mails will arrive at iMarketing News decrying what some perceive as an editorial implication that marketers are inherently honorable and trustworthy. Ugh.

Never once has an argument appeared on this page saying or implying that marketers are automatically to be trusted.

But accusations of editorial naiveté continue to arrive, as illustrated in the following three-point rant from my next guest:

“1) I’ll bet that you think all major stock brokerage analysts always have your best interests at heart. What the heck, the commissions on buys are the same as on sells. What other agenda could they possibly have?

2) I’ll bet that you thought Webvan was a really good investment. Never mind the dozens of other guys who went broke trying to deliver groceries to homes over the last 50 years. Louis Borders was a whole lot smarter than those other guys, and besides, he would never try to cash out at the end and leave everybody else swinging.

3) I’ll bet you believe in the Tooth Fairy … If you have kids, I hope with all my heart that your local banker pal doesn’t sell you to the highest paying pornographer on the block.”

The e-mail writer never offers possible uses a pornographer might have for a list of my bank transactions and children (Would both be available from the same source?).

And to be fair, I had tweaked him pretty hard in a previous e-mail, but the “you-better-hope-they-don’t-sell-your-wife-and-kids” argument arrives fairly regularly following privacy editorials. Just what a bank or other service provider revealing personally identifiable information to an unsavory character can have to do with selling family members never quite gets spelled out, though.

But in any case, to all our anti-marketing letter writers out there: No one at iMarketing News believes marketers are inherently honorable. Many are, many aren’t. And other than often being a hoot to read, the “marketers-can’t-be-trusted” argument adds no value to any of the debates currently surrounding the profession.

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