Marketing is a broad field with a variety of different areas such as product marketing, content writing, email marketing, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and social media marketing. However, all of these different areas of marketing involve promoting and selling products or services, including advertising and market research. Marketing managers, in particular, have a variety of duties including overseeing the marketing activities of a company, compiling marketing strategy estimates and budgets, presenting them for approval, working with advertising agencies, participating in discussions, drafting sales and advertising contracts, and updating advertising materials over time.
Individuals with skills and prior marketing experience are excellent for this role because a marketing manager position demands a lot of responsibility. While there have been a few examples when self-taught marketers have become marketing managers, applicants with college degrees and marketing certificates often have an edge over those without degrees. According to IBISWorld (2016), corporate profit, the number of competitors, advertisement spending, broadband connections, and private investment are the main economic drivers of this profession. In industries, the majority of all business expenditures direct about 3% of their revenue to marketing. Consequently, the concentration in this industry is poor and highly fragmented. Strategic management skills, brand name building, and highly defined internal processes are key success factors.
Marketing Degrees & Certifications
A formal degree is not required for most entry-level marketing positions but both undergraduate and graduate degrees attained from universities are essential for candidates looking for marketing manager positions. An undergraduate degree opens many doors for individuals looking for marketing positions, and since a graduate degree is a level higher than an undergraduate degree, individuals that have attained it are more likely to get hired and promoted to a marketing manager position. Individuals with at least an undergraduate degree count for the majority of 40,900 people hired as marketing managers in California alone as of 2019 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019). However, a degree or certificate is not usually the only thing companies look for in candidates for a marketing management position, rather, they look for prior marketing work experience as well.
Students that chose marketing as a primary field of study are exposed to the greater educational needs and business issues facing the cross-functional business person currently in demand by prospective employers (Chonko and Roberts, 1996). University marketing programs do provide students with different scenarios and are taught theory to get prepared for their future jobs. The majority of business classes in most universities conduct individual and group presentations that help enhance the presentation and communication skills of the students.
Marketing certificates of various sorts are available from universities and recognized companies to assist individuals in gaining the necessary skills for a marketing manager position. Marketing certificates, such as digital marketing, are extremely valuable since they provide applicable skills for adapting to new technologies and excelling in marketing jobs.
Laws Regarding Marketing
Marketing is a diverse field with many different niche streams but the laws are the same for any kind of specific marketing field. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “a representation, omission or practice is deceptive if it is likely to mislead consumers and affect consumers' behavior or decisions about the product or service”. Specifically, the FTC Act specifies the probation parameters for misleading marketing. The FTC defines puffery as a "term frequently used to denote the exaggerations reasonably to be expected of a seller as to the degree of quality of his product, the truth or falsity of which cannot be precisely determined” (FTC, 2020). The difference between puffery and false representation is that false representation is unlawful and fact-based. False representation is marketing-related puffery is more in line with campaign strategy and forecasting of sales. It is vital for the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to be aware of the regulations of a marketing consultant but it can get tricky at times for them as are no regulations on consultative operations.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC, 1983) distinguishes between subjective claims (taste, feel, appearance and smell) or opinions correctly stated, and actionable claims expressed as opinions but not honestly held, or claims that the receiver interprets fairly as implied factual statements. Furthermore, the FTC distinguishes between non-actionable exaggerated or puffed statements that are not taken seriously by ordinary consumers and actionable exaggerated claims that can be taken seriously by consumers. The argument, "America's favorite pasta," for instance, can not be evaluated objectively as a fact and is thus regarded as non-actionable (Am. Italian Pasta Co. v. New World Pasta Co., 2004).
When determining whether an exaggerated claim is actionable or not, the FTC often considers product types, as the organization claims that the risk of fraud greatly decreases when customers can easily assess the product, or when the product is inexpensive or widely purchased (FTC, 1983). Marketing managers are the masterminds behind a company's marketing efforts and play a key part in them. Companies, as a result, employ a candidate with past reputable job experience for the marketing manager role in order to reduce the likelihood of having to face legal issues as a result of some marketing manager's fault.
Ackerman v. The Coca-Cola Company
In the Batsheva Ackerman et al. v. The Coca-Cola Company class action, the named claimants alleged that the defendants misled consumers and induced economic harm by misleading "vitamin water" labeling. The named plaintiff filed the class-action lawsuit in the US District Court in New York. The lawsuit outlines thirteen class action allegations, representing classes from New York, New Jersey, and California, which include state law claims based on fraud, misrepresentation, unfair business practices, false advertising, and breach of express/implied warranties (Brison, Natasha, 2012). Ackerman stated that what Coca-Cola has done is not puffery. The sugar content of Vitaminwater and claims that it is a nutrient-enhanced drink are not puffery. The advertisement's effects go beyond puffing and assert a material assertion about the qualities of the product, capable of evaluating as true or false, which is a breach of the law.
The Court dismissed three of Ackerman’s 13 claims in total. The court held that the remaining “claims are not preempted by the FDCA because they seek to impose requirements on the defendants that are identical to those imposed by the FDCA” (Ackerman v. The Coca-Cola Company, 2010). Indisputably, product labeling and nutritional fact panels can be read by the reasonable customer who is worried about sugar content, and the detail that the FDA has never ruled that sugar is harmful just emphasizes the argument in favor of Coca-Cola. The practice must offend an established public policy or the practice itself is "immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous or significantly injurious to consumers" in order to decide whether a market practice is "unfair," under the California Unfair Competition Law (UCL) (Brison, Natasha, 2012).
The proposed classes were approved as injunctive classes by New York District Court Judge John Gleeson—to litigate the claims of the named plaintiff for declaratory and injunctive relief—but he rejected class approval for all other aspects of the claims of the plaintiff, which included seeking monetary damages. The judge ruled that "[p]roof that each class member paid a premium for Vitaminwater over another beverage would not be susceptible to generalized proof" (Ackerman v. The Coca-Cola Company, 2010). Ultimately consumers must be able to trust efficient water labels and get exactly what they pay for, irrespective of the results of this lawsuit.
The Ackerman v. The Coca-Cola Company class-action lawsuit spread a lot of awareness among the consumers. Careful monitoring by the FTC of improved water drinking advertisements carried out, which lead to corporate claims of advertising censorship in the promotion of sporting goods and brands. More lawsuits targeted athletes who endorsed such products with health claims and benefits. One year after this lawsuit, Famous NBA basketballers Shaquille O’Neal and Lamar Odom were named in the Power Balance lawsuit where both these athletes were paid celebrity endorsers of a holographic bracelet from Power Balance ((Fusfeld, 2011). The plaintiff claimed statutory and punitive damages for consumer fraud, false advertising, unfair business practices, and unjust enrichment. The Power Balance lawsuit had been settled and was forced to admit that, despite promises to the contrary, their holographic bracelets, particularly common among NBA athletes, do not actually enhance strength, balance, or flexibility.
There have been countless more cases made against firms for misleading marketing of their products, which has resulted in a profound lack of confidence among the majority of consumers. The FTC is pursuing several actions against such activities by corporations, and marketing managers who are found to be involved in misleading marketing schemes lawsuits are either held accountable by the company they work for or fired. Marketing managers that are responsible for fraudulent marketing efforts not only cause firms to lose enormous sums of money but also harm the company's reputation.
Ackerman v. Coca-Cola Company, CV-09-0395 (JG) (RML) (E.D.N.Y. Jul. 21, 2010)
American Italian Pasta Co. v. The Austin Co., 914 F.2d 1103 (8th Cir. 1990)
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