Lockheed Martin, which handles bidding, negotiations, and performance of government contracts. Lockheed Martin has a reputation for conducting business nationally and globally and is well respected within the industry. The company and competitors or similar manufacturers including Ball Corporation regularly conduct marketing and advertising research to determine what products/services are best suited for consumer interests.
Research suggest that a company such as Lockheed must engage in the highest level of moral standards when conducting marketing and advertising research to ensure that customers and consumers are adequately informed of their marketing practices and the uses the company has for collecting personal information.
The company has crafted a code of ethics based on the highest ethical standards that suggest that it is vital to the corporations livelihood that the best interests of the consumer be maintained at all times. It is recommended that the company go one step further and enhance their program by providing regular assessment and monitoring of marketing and advertising practices to ensure that marketing agents and advertisers are consistently adhering to corporate moral and ethical standards while advertising and conducting business. The report below details all of these aspects of the corporation and their business practices as well as examines the ethical questions that arise from marketing and advertising practices.
Lockheed Martin is a worldwide technology leader engaged in several different business activities including marketing and advertising research and promotion. The corporation's motto is "we never forget who we are working for" (LM, 2004). The motto suggest that the company is dedicated to the highest level of moral standards and ethical considerations.
The corporation, with headquarters located in Bethesda, MD is organized and structured around several "central core business areas" including Aeronautics, Electronic Systems, Information Technology and Services and Integrated Systems and Solutions (LM, 2004).
In a corporation with as much influence as Lockheed Martin has, it is vital that the highest ethical and moral standards are upheld in all manner of business transactions including marketing and advertising. Marketing and advertising agents at the company have a responsibility to collect information from consumers in a manner that is fair, ethical and honest. They have an obligation to provide consumers with information about business practices and the nature of the information that is collected. As a leader in the industry, the company has an obligation to set an example for other companies conducting business in the technology industry.
The company is one of the largest technology oriented companies in the world dedicated toward innovation. It's customers include international agents and U.S. government agencies including the Department of Defense, Agriculture, Homeland Security and more.
Currently the company employs more than 130,000 people worldwide and is engaged in several different activities including research, design, develop and manufacture of technology systems, products and services (LM, 2004). The corporation's sales exceeded more than 31 billion in 2003 alone (LM, 2004).
In the Lockheed Martin code of ethics, the company states that it is dedicated to "developing, producing and furnishing products and services of the highest quality with delivery to the customer on schedule at a fair price" (IIT, 2004). With regard to marketing and advertising the company acknowledges that good marketing material is an essential component of doing business, and that the corporation is committed to acquiring information about customers, competitors and suppliers in the course of doing business in an ethical manner from publicly available sources (IIT, 2004).
Bribery, the "giving of gratuities, wire-tapping, burglary, stealing and kickbacks" are acknowledged as unacceptable methods for colleting information (IIT, 2004).
Marketing representatives have a responsibility to provide customers with information about the company's products and services at request, including the specifications and terms and conditions of use of any equipment. Marketing activities must be perceived as fair and just. In order for this to occur corporations have a responsibility to inform customers about their marketing and advertising processes at all time, and conduct business in a manner that builds a foundation for trust and ethical business relationships (Clark, Hyman & Tansey, 1994).
Business ethics requires that a marketer and advertiser makes information about the company and the corporations practices available to potential customers and visitors in a prominent and easily accessible place; notices regarding a company's marketing practices should be easily found, read and understood so that customers may easily interpret and comprehend the scope of business conducted by the corporation and the scope of marketing and advertising processes (DMA, 2004).
In addition the organization should provide consumers with contact information and a notice should be provided to all customers or consumers prior to the time any information is collected that is personal in nature and will be utilized for marketing or advertising purposes (DMA, 2004). This will ensure that customers have no questions regarding business practices and procedures. If the company operates or conducts business online or provides an online site for support and information to customers, it is equally essential that customers are informed of any marketing or advertising practices that might involve collection of personal information online (DMA, 2004).
When information is collected about customers other companies generally provide notice that includes information pertaining to the (1) nature of the information collected and the types of uses the information will be used for including marketing, (2) whether the information will be transferred to third parties, (3) whether the information is used by the company or by outside agents working on the company's behalf, (4) what procedures are in place the ensure the privacy of the information collected (DMA, 2004).
Another business ethics responsibility is the responsibility of the company to honor a customer's choice if they decline to provide personal information and to still treat that customer with the utmost respect and dignity.
The Direct Marketing Association monitors members to ensure that they are in compliance with ethical guidelines on a consistent basis (DMA, 2004). Those members that are not in compliance face harsh penalties and may lose membership with the association.
Early studies conducted of marketing and advertising practices among agency executives show that many executives are worried about issues related to equity and honesty (Carlin, Castleberry & French, 1993). These studies found that a corporation's reputation with clients only exists when the client trusts the integrity of the corporation, and a lack of trust harms the organizations ability to develop future relationships (Carlin et. al, 1993).
Marketing and advertising is an area that is consistently explored from an ethical standpoint. A survey conducted of the Marketing Research Association suggests that individuals can be influenced regarding decisions of right and wrong from their superiors, thus it is critical that executives in the corporation make decisions using only the highest levels of moral reasoning (Carlin et. al, 1993).
Gulas & Mckeage (2000) suggest that idealized portrayals may also be seen as ethically misleading and thus a corporation has the obligation to expose consumers to true to form rather than idealized images of their products/services of corporation (p. 17). The consequences of idealized marketing and advertising can be negative on the public and exacerbate problems that are ethical in nature with regard to business practices.
Clark, Hyman & Tansey (1994) suggest that advertising ethics affects the practice of everyday business in many subtle and prominent ways and that ethics in marketing and advertising will continue to be a prevalent area of discourse for future researchers. Lockheed Martin need take adequate steps to ensure that customers and consumers are well informed of business practices in order to comply with the suggestions presented above.
At this time Lockheed's code of ethics suggest that it is upholding the highest moral standards when conducting business with consumers. There are opportunities for ethical breaches to occur nonetheless in the practice of marketing and advertising research. Lockheed Martin needs to ensure that the information they collect that is personal in nature and relevant to specific agencies is kept confidential at all times. In addition they must ensure that they are notifying all customers of their intent when collecting information and informing them of the uses for that information.
This practice is easily 'overlooked' in the world of marketing. Such a breach of confidentiality and conduct can result in a loss of trust in the business relationship and create misgivings with clients. In addition a breech of trust would be devastating for the industry giant that influences so many other areas of global technology enterprise.
I suggest that plans and procedures be implemented to develop a marketing and advertising auditing program to prevent a breach of conduct and ethics on behalf of staff, much like what the Direct Marketing Association has implemented for members. Marketing and advertising activities should be monitored on a monthly/bi-annual and annual basis to ensure that the information acquired from customers is done in a manner that is ethical and moral at all times.
It is critical that corporations conduct marketing and advertising activities in a manner that is just, honest and upholds the highest…