Treading on that Fine Line? - Caselets in Marketing Ethics

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG186
Case Length : 14 pages
Period : 2006-2008
Pub Date : 2008
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Emami Ltd.; Pfizer Inc.; Facebook.
Industry : Fast Moving Consumer Goods; Pharmaceutical; Social Media.
Countries : India/ USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Caselet 3: Facebook's Ad Platform

"Facebook Ads represent a completely new way of advertising online. For the last hundred years media has been pushed out to people, but now marketers are going to be a part of the conversation. And they're going to do this by using the social graph in the same way our users do."48

- Mark Zuckerberg (Zuckerberg), Founder and CEO, Facebook, in 2007.

"The new advertising system will target ads based on personal information shared by users with their friends... It also reeks of unethical practices since when these users joined Facebook they were not told or given the chance to opt out and state that their personal information like interests, relationship status, work history, etc. should not be used."49

- Sujatha Ganesan, a Business and Technology Lawyer, in 2007.

On November 06, 2007, Mark Zuckerberg (Zuckerberg), the founder and CEO of Facebook50 introduced an ad system called Facebook Ads to connect business houses with Facebook users. As of November 2007, Facebook had 55 million active registered users, and was the second fastest growing social networking site, with an astounding year-on-year growth rate of 133 percent51. This new system was expected to facilitate offering of better targeted advertisements to the users. According to Zuckerberg, the new ad platform would provide a very different way of online advertising as it would give the advertiser a chance to 'be a part of the conversation' by using the 'social graph' in the same way as the Facebook users did...


Exhibit I: A Packshot of 'Fair and Handsome'
Exhibit II: A Banner Ad of Shahrukh Khan Promoting 'Fair and Handsome' in Fairandhandsome.Net
Exhibit III: Packshot of Lipitor
Exhibit IV: Global Sales of Lipitor: 2000-2006
Exhibit V: Brand Page of Coca-Cola on Facebook

48] "Facebook Unveils Facebook Ads," www.facebook/, November 06, 2007.

49] Sujatha Ganeshan, "Facebook's Ad Platform,", November 10, 2007.

50] Facebook is one of the world's leading social networking sites. Originally started as a social networking site for Harvard students, it was opened up to all people above the age of 13 years from September 2006.

51] "Top Social Networking Sites in September 2007,", October 24th, 2007.


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