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

Herbert Jack Rotfeld
Auburn University Alumni Professor
Department of Marketing
246 Lowder Hall
Office hours during Spring semester classes (January 11-April 28):
    → Tuesdays & Thursdays 7:00-7:40 a.m., 11-12 a.m.
    → Wednesdays, 8-10 a.m.
    → AND whenever the door is open (most weekdays from 7 a.m. through early-afternoon)

Course Prerequisites: Grade of C or better in MKTG 3310
Required Purchases
→ 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
   [It's easier to come in from the north-facing entrance to the building, entering from the city parking garage]

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 that include 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
Test #1: February 7
Test #2: March 9
Test #3: April 20
Comprehensive final exam: Tuesday, May 2, 8-10:30 a.m.
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

To take any tests or have scores for any homework or quiz, students must have completed and turned in the class contract

well,...just bewareGrades 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 & absent from more than 25% of non-exam classes; or unexcused absence from any test or the final exam.
Course Learning Objectives: To acquire a broader knowledge of the pragmatic social and regulatory environment of marketing decisions with a focus on the difficulty of serving consumers' interests as illustrated by examples of when a marketing perspective is lost, misapplied or abused.
The Prime Direction requires all 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.
Marketing practitioners student discretion is advised are rarely, if ever, the same types of people as their customers, meaning that decisions must be assessed in terms of what the market segments might perceive, 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, but instead, as the marketing managers whose customers make decisions for a variety of different reasons. Similar to how marketing managers often deal with products or consumer choices with which they might personally disagree, class will discuss products you might not buy, in contexts for which you would never be in the target market, resulting in discussion examples that you might find personally offensive. In this class, as in business, it is unavoidable.
Homework assignments for each of the 13 topics listed below will require short answers to specific questions drawn from the reading assignments. Homework will be collected from those present at the start of the designated class date prior to the class discussion of the topic. At least 9 will be scored, each worth at least 5 possible points, and worst score of those collected will not count toward your point total. If 10 are collected, the best 9 will count in your total. All homework with comments and/or scores 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 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 valid excuse for missing more than one due date that results 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. Students who arrive late for class, even if by what they consider only a few minutes, might not be allowed to turn in their assignment on that day.

Tests & Final Exam will be 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 either of the two 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.

Attendance & class participation are not part of grade totals except for FA grades and turning in assignments as noted above, yet active class participation provides an ineluctable requirement for learning course materials. While open and voluntary participation is encouraged, individuals whose hands are not raised will often be called upon to answer a question. You must sit in the same position on the seating chart in every class and everyone in the class will be given a copy of the chart so you can learn your classmates' names. It is hoped that you will discuss your ideas with each other when preparing for class discussions, since experience has found this to be the surest way to improve your performance in the course.
Classes will always start on time as usually defined in business: at the time designated for the start of class, students are expected to be in their seats and ready to work. And arriving late could be treated as an absence for quizzes, homework, or assignment of FA grades. It is the student's responsibility to notify the instructor of any emergency or personal problem that might impact his or her performance in the course.

Other class & AU policies
→  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
→  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 noted in this syllabus as available to anyone in the class. 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 (
Where "shoppers bite back" (
Medicine and Madison Avenue home page (
Food & Drug Administration history office (
Government information on recent product recalls (

The daily reading assignments for each topic listed will be announced in class. 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 of files or links to new 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 away from our campus and logged into the AU VPN.

Most pictures throughout this syllabus have links to other readings provided for your interest or amusement. And for the discern student, the gif files are relevant illustrations to their text placement.
I. What Interests Consumers and the Consumers' InterestsCompetition can be intense
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 -

II. Applications & Lost Opportunities of a Marketing Orientationrisky picture
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
    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 Abused
    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 

V. 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.

Herbert Jack Rotfeld
Auburn University Alumni Professor
Department of Marketing
246 Lowder Hall