Seal of Approval or Mere Marketing Ploy?
What first seemed to be a congratulatory announcement faxed to our office has turned out to be a legitimized marketing ploy.
This is about a marketing group that calls itself the Philippine Marketing Excellence Awards, which has sent a fax to our office congratulating us for having won the award, but that we had to pay them Fifteen Thousand Pesos (PHP 15,000) so that they can give us the plaque and the certificate and invite us to the awards ceremonies and have our photo published in a leading newspaper. The actual fax I have attached to this post (see below). I had collated all my findings as well as statements from phone conversations I have had with people from this organization, and posted them on Blue Fish Views.
Have received quick advice from blogging friend Atty. Fred that what I had written on Blue Fish Views was libellous, exactly which parts are, I don’t know yet, so I’ve pulled out the BFV post. It is an aspect of Law that I do not fully appreciate, how telling the truth can land you in court and eventually in jail if you are not careful of how you tell that same truth. I have gone back to read Atty. Punzi’s Blog Lecture on Libel, as well as Atty. Fred’s post on e-libel and Internet Libel and with it as a guide I shall rewrite my pulled-out post.
It takes away one’s faith in human nature, when you realize that even an honorable thing like an award is now being turned into a commodity—that people can now sell an “award” and that other people are actually buying it!—and this is what I am speaking out against. I am naming the Philippine Marketing Excellence Awards as an example, because I have scanned the fax messaage they sent us and saved jpg representations of page 1 and page 2.
Here we go.
I suppose it could be a mere matter of semantics on my part, or even a disillusionment with the way some people are trying to make a living these days.
That first part of my self-doubt is because I used to be a writer (although that was a long time ago) and that words and their meanings play a huge part in my life. I have learned word definitions and synonyms and metaphors in what has been my favorite subject since first grade, and I lament the mutations of some words that I have come to consider as sacrosanct, words that have been etched in my mind as unchangeable through time. These are not complicated grandiose words I have in mind. These are simple words, like award, honor, honesty. We have been with these words since grade school, and we have experienced, either directly or vicariously, the thrill and the appreciation that came with these words. First Honors. Most Outstanding Student Award, Honesty is the best policy. We have seen our fellow students, and perhaps even ourselves with these honors and abiding by these tenets, and we looked at them with pride, as our parents themselves beam with pride when we were recipients of such honors.
The second part stems from my old-fashioned notion of sales and services. My greatest example is my father, who joined Procter & Gamble straight out of college and stayed with them until he retired after 35 years of loyal service. My dad was a salesman. He sold soap, and margarine and detergent, out of a big covered van that had huge orange rings and said “Tide” on the side. My dad sold tangible items, and sold them well. He frequently received awards from his company in the form of plaques and huge trophies, and when he retired as Visayas District Manager they gave him quite a send-off party at a posh resort in Mactan.
So back to the words I seem to be having problems with today. Award, honor, honesty. Let me check the dictionaries for definitions, just on the off chance that my understanding of these words are no longer valid in this day and age.
Award: An award is something given to a person or group of people to recognize excellence in a certain field. Awards are often signified by trophies, certificates, plaques, medals, badges, pins or ribbons. An award can simply be the public acknowledgment of excellence.
Honor: Honour (or honor) comprises the reputation, self-perception or moral identity of an individual or of a group.
Honesty: Honesty is the human quality of communicating and acting with a truthful manner, as best one is able. It is related to truth as a value. This includes listening, reasoning and any action in the human repertoire — as well as speaking.
I am not a marketing person, nor am I knowledgeable in the tricks of the trade of this new method of marketing. The company I work for spends hardly anything in hard printed marketing collateral, as our business relies quite effectively on word of mouth from satisfied customers, and futher information on the services that we offer can be found on our website. We’ve been in our humble apartment/office in Estrella, Makati City to keep overhead costs down, opting instead to direct company money into salaries and equipment instead of “porma” (form). Spending for marketing is way down in the list of possible company expenditures.
So it is with a certain amount of shock and disbelief that I react when an announcement such as this fax comes in, and I cannot help but speak out. It will not do to just set this thing aside, and dismiss it as a marketing ploy, which perhaps one day I may admit might have been the more prudent thing to do.
I suppose it is because my father was a salesman of the old school, when tangible commodity exchanged hands with tangible cash. I suppose it is because the company I work for takes pride in what we do and are doing quite well by testimonials of satisfied customers, and so we have no need for marketing gimmicks such as this.
I suppose it’s because I find it sad that these three words that I have known since I was a little girl—award, honor—have now become a purchaseable commodity, and that the word honesty can best be defined as a truth that someone else can make you believe.