During my weekly one hour of television, i get exposed to mainstream advertisements that drive me absolutely nuts! Consider the order of the following adverts: First there's a Wal-Mart commercial talking about the billions of dollars people will save by shopping there. This is followed by a DQ commercial and a Wendy's commercial about their latest cheap deal under $5. We then see yogourt and gronola bar commercials touting the latest nutritional fad. The series of ads is rounded off with a weight loss advertisement with patients talking about their weight loss challenges and success.
Is there something wrong here? Is it not bad enough that a substantial chunk of commercial activity is largely predicated on negative socially and ecologically outcomes that we now capitalize on these negative effects through more commercial opportunities? Is this what we teach in our business schools? From a business perspective, it's clearly more worthwhile to sell things that create problems to boost other opportunities to sell more things. Nestle recently indicated that they aim to enter the French market because consumers there are starting to emulate the Western fast food diet. Nestle has a Jenny Craig arm that comes with a range of apparently healthy products. Yet Nestle is increasingly criticized for its processed foods contributing to an obesity epidemic. Interestingly, one can argue that Nestle is captivating on increasing levels of obesity that its own products have helped to create.
Should we not be educating our future graduates that perhaps this approach is fundamentally flawed? Or do we dismiss this as just the natural course of events that makes our economic foundation tick?
If the answer to this last question is yes, then I have no place in a business school.