MKTG 4050: Misplaced Marketing & Consumers' Interests
marketing & public policy, plus other related stuff
"What interests consumers is not always in the consumers' interests"

Herbert Jack Rotfeld
Professor, Department of Marketing
246 Lowder Hall, is northeast corner of 2nd floorHarbert College of Business
Auburn University
246 Lowder Hall

Office hours Fall Semester 2018, August 20 to December 7: Tuesday & Thursday, 7-7:40 a.m. 9:30-10:40 a.m.; Wednesdays 8-10 a.m. AND whenever the door is open (most weekdays from 7 a.m. till early afternoon)
Course Prerequisites Grade of C or better in MKTG 3310
Required Materials include a book that isn't filled with irrelevant distracting pictures, cartoons, graphs or meaningless charts. The book just has a lot of words to be read, including some interesting comments in the footnotes. The book also has some archaic references, and maybe too many bad jokes, including one set up on page 1 with the punchline on the last page. There  also is a packet of articles to read, plus some essays and videos linked to this syllabus. A third purchase contains all of the slides with words, an important service to everyone who mistakenly believes that copying words from a screen is the same as taking notes (which it isn't). University email will convey lecture supplements that will also be required reading.
Required Materials to buy
Adventures in Misplaced Marketing, ISBN: 9781567203523
→ Two packets sold at SOFY Copy Center, 145 W. Magnolia
   (1) Required readings (2) copies of most class slides
Required online materials - Canvas will not be used
→ Additional required reading assignments & videos available via syllabus links in class outline below
→ University email will convey assignment updates, plus required reading materials such as lecture supplements
→ Online discussion questions provide most of the questions that members of the class will be called upon to answer during class
Important Dates
[In this class, "Syllabus Day" is not a thing]
Rosh Hashanah: September 10-11
Yom Kippur: September 19
Test #1: September 13A significant meteor event lights
        up the sky
Test #2: October 18
Test #3: November 15 or 27 or 29 [TBA]
Comprehensive final exam: December 10, noon-2:30 p.m.
This is the first day of final exam week. As per university policy, the final exam will be administered at the assigned time. An earlier test will not be granted for students wanting to depart for jobs, job interviews, graduate school interviews, family vacations or to witness meteorological events

Beware of... well,...just bewareA signed class contract is a precondition for anyone to be considered present for class, to take any tests, or to have scores counted for any quiz or homework
will be based on point totals, not averages, percentile scores or letter grades on each item. The points scored on each item are added together and the grade is based on the point total. There might be extra credit values on homework, tests, or the final exam - hence the notation of "at least" by the number of possible points for each item below - but the availability of extra credit items will not alter the cut-offs points required for each letter grade that will be determined by the sum of the raw scores from the following items:
→ Three tests of 30 points each (at least 90 points)
→ writing assignments (at least 40 points)
→ Comprehensive Final Exam (at least 70 points)
A = 180-200 points
B = 160-179 points
C = 140-159 points
D = 120-139 points
F = 0-119 points
FA = either 0-119 points and either (a) absent from all or part of 25% or more of the non-test class days, or (b) an unexcused absence from any test or the final exam. Absent includes arriving late, leaving early, repeatedly stepping out for parts of the period and unauthorized use of electronic devices.
Course Learning Objectives: To acquire a broader knowledge of the pragmatic social and regulatory environment of marketing decisions, viewed from a perspective of the difficulty of serving consumers' interests when a marketing perspective is lost, misapplied or abused. In other words,.... It's about marketing regulation, which requires a bit of law, but it isn't a law course. It's about business self-regulation, but it isn't about altruism. It's about marketing management decision making, but it isn't defined by specific marketing jobs. The course is about public policy and marketing. In addition to the powers and limitations of business self-regulation, discussions will look at work of government regulation by CFPB, FTC, FDA and others that pundits falsely claim "kills jobs" while ignoring that they are keeping the cannery from using diethylene glycol to preserve your peas, fighting pollution that can cause a nearby river to ignite in flames, or stopping banks from having another meltdown that saves money for billionaires while kicking grandma to the curb. The real objective for this course is for what students learn to include an understanding of nuanced issues that they are able to use in analysis of business problems and decisions responding to those problems.
The Prime Direction requires class discussions, test answers & homework assignments presume that relevant business or government decision makers are not dishonest, bigoted, lazy or dumb, and that consumers are not mindless gullible fools. Remember, people in organizations make decisions, not anthropomorphic businesses or government agencies.
TRIGGER WARNING!Marketing practitioners are rarely, if ever, the same types of people as their customers, meaning that decision options must be evaluated in terms of what interests the market segments, not in terms of what personally appeals to the decision maker. In any marketing class, students must realize that they can no longer view products or services as a customer purchasing a new smart phone, watching commercials, or deciding to smoke cigarettes,This class is rated TV-MA. Student discretion is advised but instead, as the marketing managers whose customers make decisions for a variety of different reasons. Marketing managers must often deal with products or consumer choices with which they personally disagree. Similarly, class will discuss products or services you would never buy, with product features you'd never need, using mass media messages which would never consider you as part of the target audience, resulting in discussing examples that you might find personally offensive. In MKTG 4050, as in the world outside of the campus, it is unavoidable

The reality & pragmatic danger of Misplaced Marketing is intuitively logical yet is why marketing itself is not as "easy" as many people seem to think. The fact that marketing managers are rarely members of their target segments does not create bad decisions, but any manager's inability to realize that the fact exists does

All tests and assignments will require writing. As it is in life, nothing in the class will be multiple choice. If you are a good student that is tired of brain-dead classmates hurting your grade on a group project or presentation, there won't be any group work. Slackers that often pass courses on the work of others are on their own. The primary requirement for the class is a functioning brain, preferably one that is not an example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, as well as a willingness to use it for a critical evaluation of the plethora of bovine manure that is everywhere when marketing & public policy are discussed. This is not a class that the teacher reads the textbook-based slides to the class, followed by multiple choice tests where you mark down the answers that were spoon fed earlier. Students proudly exhibiting their cerebral flatlines, plus others who weirdly pay tuition while actively seeking to avoid an education would see this link as a “how to” manual
[Look at it this way. You probably don't know what is meant by the Dunning-Kruger Effect. If you pasted it into a browser to look it up when you read it here without anyone telling you to do so, you'll probably enjoy the class.]

Homework assignments for each of the 13 topics listed below will require short answers to specific questions drawn from the reading assignments, with the first one due at the start of the second class meeting. Homework will be collected from those present at the start of the designated class. At least 9 of the homework assignments will be scored, each worth at least 5 possible points, and the worst score will not count toward your point total. If 10 are scored, the best 9 will count in your total. If 11 are scored, the grade is the best 10. All homework, scored or not, with instructor comments will always be returned before the start of the next class meeting. Students must be present and on time to turn in the assignment. No assignments will involve egalitarian group activity

No make-up assignments will be given. A student who is absent for a due date for any reason will have that homework be the one dropped as the worst score. If a student has a excuse absences from multiple due dates resulting in fewer than 8 scored assignments, documentation and verification contacts of excused absences must be provided for all relevant days missed, not just those in excess of the one dropped. If such materials can't be provided, the additional missed homework is considered unexcused for grade purposes.

Tests & Final Exam will be all essay format. The three tests cover material from a specified segment of the course. The comprehensive final exam covers all materials from the entire semester, and no one section will have extra coverage. On test days, students who arrive late will not be allowed to start the test once anyone has completed the test and has left the room

Test scores will be returned before the start of the next class meeting. For one week after the test is returned, students may come to my office to read their scored test if they bring the card that was returned with their test score

For an absence to be considered excused, prior notice must be provided for expected or planned events. Unexpected problems or emergencies require direct notification immediately, as soon as possible by phone or email, not later in the day, with documentation provided as soon as you are capable of returning to campus. Delayed notifications will not be accepted. A documented acceptable excuse for any tests allows for either a make-up test early the next morning or to have the point value of that test shifted to the final exam. The only conditions under AU policy [in Student Policy eHandbook] are considered excused absences from exams

Shoot out at the panda den. Seek cover!Classes will always start on time in the business sense of the term: at the time designated for the start of class, students are expected to be in their seats and ready to work. Attendance & class participation are not part of the grade point totals except for homework or FA grades, as noted above. However, active class participation provides an ineluctable requirement for learning course materials

Other class directions plus AU-required narishkeit
→  All electronic devices are to be put away during the class period unless a reasonable exception is requested in writing & approved. Various options may be used to deter or penalize violators
→  Videos in assigned links or shown in class are fairly entertaining, but their use during the class period is not for students to be entertained. They will either be discussed as examples of course materials, or convey course-relevant information in a more interesting fashion than other presentation options. Even if it is a segment from a comedy program where their priority is to the joke, the selected videos provide researched & documented information that can be part of any test. Note taking is as important during video programs as it is during other parts of class. (The obvious exceptions are videos before 11 a.m., the "pre-class entertainment")
→  If you find it difficult to take notes and be an active participant in class at the same time, request permission to audio record class for notes to be transcribed later. The lectures exist under university and personal copyright, which means that any recordings made of the class are for individual use as a study aid and are not to be sold, publicly posted or otherwise distributed on any forum without written permission from the instructor.
→  Anyone with difficulty completing tests during the time limits of the class period can request an early start time, a consideration that is not tied to any requirements from the Office of Accessibility.
→  Students are expected to do their own work in the classroom on quizzes and tests as per the Auburn University student academic honesty code in the Student Policy eHandbook (Title XII) Academic honesty violations or alleged violations of the SGA Code of Laws will be reported to the Office of the Provost, which will then refer the case to the Academic Honesty Committee.
→  If you have a disability, you must meet with me in my office to discuss possible accommodations after you electronically submit the approved accommodations through AU Access. Course requirements will not be waived, but accommodations will be made to assist in meeting the requirements, provided you are timely to develop a reasonable accommodation plan. Please note that the most commonly requested accommodations are available to anyone in the class without reference to a disability. If you need accommodations, make an appointment with the Office of Accessibility, 1228 Haley Center.

Web sites of suggested interest and review
→ Public Citizen's Consumer Law & Policy blog (
→ A short informative summary on the basic ways on ways a developed country provides health insurance for its citizens, four of which are universal health care plans ( )
→ Medicine and Madison Avenue home page (
→ Food & Drug Administration where you can look up all sorts of stuff (, or its history
→ Government information on recent product recalls, including your car, truck or recreational vehicle (
→ CGP Grey's YouTube channel of short explanatory videos on varying subjects ( Admittedly, little of CGP Grey's videos are directly related to this course, but they are both interesting and informative
Adventures in Misplaced Marketing, by Herbert Jack Rotfeld
The daily reading assignments for each topic listed will be announced in class, starting with topic #1 in the first two classes. AiMM is shorthand for the book, article titles listed are from the packet, and article titles marked as "online" are required readings or videos available via links to the title itself in this syllabus. Additional articles could be distributed via handouts or email to students as attached files or links to news publications. The online topic-by-topic discussion questions will be updated during the term, and they are provided as guidance that you should consult as you read the assigned articles & chapters. The "recommended" readings are listed following suggestions from former students of this class who felt that they would help you understand the materials.

Links for online articles marked by "**" require that you use an AU computer or a computer/phone/tablet using the campus WiFi network. Being logged onto an AU internet address is recognized by the publication's system which then gives access to their subscription-required web pages. This also works if you are logged into the system of any other organization with a subscription, or, if you are away from campus, it usually works the same if you are logged into the AU VPN.

Most pictures throughout this syllabus have links to other readings provided for your interest or amusement. And for the discerning student, the gif files are relevant illustrations for their nearby text placement, with additional links of interest & relevance.

I. What Interests Consumers and the Consumers' InterestsCompetition can be intense in a dog eat dog world
Topic 1. History & Consumers in the Marketplace
    packet: Consumer Movement in Historical Perspective
    online Pessimist's Perspective on 4th Wave of Consumer Protection
Topic 2. The Modern Marketplace and Competition
    packet: What is Sustainability
    packet: Why some people think Rachel Carson killed people
    online Slapping Down Dangerous Information
    recommended online Depending on the Kindness of Strangers
    recommended online The Consumer as Serf
Topic 3. A Marketing Perspective on Consumer Rights
    AiMM, ch. 1
    packet: St. Phineas
    online video: Why doesn't MTV play music videos
    online video: Ohio rejects marijuana legalization
    recommended online ** Mistaking a Marketing Perspective

- Test 1 -

This is a risky way to get a
        pictureII. Applications & Lost Opportunities of a Marketing Orientation
Topic 4. The Lost Marketing Perspective
    AiMM, Ch. 2 & 3
    online ** Movie Theaters' Suicide-by-Advertising
    recommended: AiMM Ch. 6
Topic 5. Marketing Myths: The Case of Advertising
    AiMM, Ch. 4 and 5
    Packet: Need for New Anti-Smoking Adv Strategies
Topic 6. Perspectives on Modern Government Regulation
    AiMM, Ch. 7
    recommended online video: North Dakota (the results of limited regulation)
Topic 7. Risk, Consumers & Regulation: Environment, Chemicals & Breasts
    packet: Risky Business
    packet: Dangerous Supplements
    packet: How to avoid...FTC & Sustainability Claims
    electronic handout: "The Coming Climate Crash"

- Test 2 -

III. When Serving Consumers' Needs Isn't What Consumers Need
Topic 8. Business Self-regulation
    AiMM, ch. 8
    online: Youtube-fight-extreme-right-wing-creators
    online: Deaths when an industry regulates itself  
    packet: Opelika Ministry Rents Billboard
    packet: Anthony, Let's clean up the diet-ad mess
    online: Desires Versus Reality of Self-Regulation
Topic 9. Marketing Abusedcat fight
    AiMM, ch. 9 
    packet: How Moral Men Make Immoral Decisions
    online: Volkswagon pollution testing
Topic 10. Marketing & Its Paranoid Critics
    AiMM, ch. 10
    packet: Subliminal Advertising & ...People's Paranoia
    online ** Imagine the Television Commercial
    online Stealth Influence of Covert Marketing
    recommended: online ** Mine is the Blue One on the Left
Topic 11. When Customers Aren't Right
   AiMM, ch. 11 & 12
   packet: "How to Say It"
   recommended: online ** It Hurts. Fix It
   recommended: online ** Largest Segments That Should Not Be Served

- Test 3 -

IV. Other Applications of a Marketing Perspective
Topic 12. Segmentation, Communications & News Management
   AiMM, ch. 13, 14 & 15
Topic 13. Managerial Ethnocentrism
   AiMM, ch. 16
Dancing cookie monsterV. Harder Than It Seems
 Topic 14. It Isn't "Just" Marketing
  AiMM, Ch. 17
** Links for these online articles require that you use an AU computer or a computer/phone/tablet using the campus WiFi network. Being logged onto an AU internet address is recognized by the publication's system which then gives access to their subscription-required web pages. This also works if you are logged into the system of any other organization with a subscription, or away from our campus and logged into the AU VPN.
246 Lowder Hall, northeast corner of
        buildingHerbert Jack Rotfeld
Professor, Department of Marketing
Harbert College of Business
Auburn University
246 Lowder Hall