Explicating Ethical Corporate Marketing. Insights from the BP Deepwater Horizon Catastrophe: The Ethical Brand that Exploded and then Imploded

Abstract

Ethical corporate marketing—as an organisational-wide philosophy—transcends the domains of corporate social responsibility, business ethics, stakeholder theory and corporate marketing. This being said, ethical corporate marketing represents a logical development vis-a-vis the nascent domain of corporate marketing has an explicit ethical/CSR dimension and extends stakeholder theory by taking account of an institution’s past, present and (prospective) future stakeholders. In our article, we discuss, scrutinise and elaborate the notion of ethical corporate marketing. We argue that an ethical corporate marketing positioning is a prerequisite for corporations which claim to have an authentic ethical corporate identity. Our article expands and integrates extant scholarship vis-a-vis ethical corporate identities, the sustainable entrepreneur and corporate marketing. In delineating the breadth, significance, and challenges of ethical corporate marketing we make reference to the BP Deepwater Horizon (Gulf of Mexico) catastrophe of 2010.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Arvidsson, S. (2010). Communication of corporate social responsibility: A study of the views of management teams in large companies. Journal of Business Ethics. doi: 10.1007/s10551-010-0469-2.

  2. Balmer, J. M. T. (1998). Corporate identity and the advent of corporate marketing. Journal of Marketing Management, 14(8), 963–996.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Balmer, J. M. T. (2001). Corporate identity, corporate branding and corporate marketing: Seeing through the fog. European Journal of Marketing, 35(3/4), 248–291.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Balmer, J. M. T. (2008). Identity based views of the corporation: Insights from corporate identity, organisational identity, social identity, visual identity and corporate image. European Journal of Marketing, 42(9–10), 879–906.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Balmer, J. M. T. (2009). Corporate marketing: Apocalypse, advent and epiphany. Management Decision, 47(4), 544–572.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Balmer, J. M. T. (2010a). The BP deepwater horizon debacle and corporate brand exuberance. Journal of Brand Management, 18(2), 97–104.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Balmer, J. M. T. (2010b). Definition of ethical corporate marketing from class notes: MSc in corporate brand management. London: Brunel University.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Balmer, J. M. T., Fukukawa, K., & Gray, E. R. (2007). The nature and management of ethical corporate identity: A commentary on corporate identity, corporate social responsibility and ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 76(1), 7–15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Balmer, J. M. T., & Greyser, S. A. (2002). Managing the multiple identities of the corporation. California Management Review, 44(3), 72–86.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Balmer, J. M. T., & Greyser, S. A. (2006). Corporate marketing: Integrating corporate identity, corporate branding, corporate communications, corporate image and corporate reputation. European Journal of Marketing, 40(7/8), 730–741.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Balmer, J. M. T., Stuart, H., & Greyser, S. A. (2009). Aligning identity and strategy: Corporate branding at British Airways in the late 20th century. California Management Review, 51(3), 6–23.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Bernstein, D. (2009). Rhetoric and reputation: Some thoughts on corporate dissonance. Management Decision, 47(4), 603–615.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Bernstein, A. (2010). The case for business in developing economies. London: Viking Books.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Bhattacharya, C. B., Korschun, D., & Sen, S. (2009). Strengthening stakeholder–company relationships through mutually beneficial corporate social responsibility initiatives. Journal of Business Ethics, 85(Suppl 2), 257–272.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Bhattacharya, C. B., & Sen, S. (2003). Consumer–company identification: A framework for understanding consumers’ relationships with companies. Journal of Marketing, 67(2), 76–88.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Bhattacharya, C. B., & Sen, S. (2004). Doing better at doing good: When, why, and how consumers respond to corporate social initiatives. California Management Review, 47(1), 9–24.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Borgerson, J. L., Schroeder, J. E., Magnusson, M. E., & Magnusson, F. (2009). Corporate communication, ethics, and operational identity: A case study of Benetton. Business Ethics: A European Review, 18(3), 209–223.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. British Broadcasting Corporation. (2010). BP faces choppy waters after huge oil spill. Retrieved April 29, 2010, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8652448.stm. Accessed May 1, 2010.

  19. Brown, T. J., Dacin, P. A., Pratt, M. G., & Whetten, D. A. (2006). Identity, intended image, construed image, and reputation: An interdisciplinary framework and suggested terminology. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 34(2), 99–106.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Choi, D. Y., & Gray, E. R. (2011). Values-centered entrepreneurs and their companies. New York and London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Cleek, M. A., & Leonard, S. L. (1998). Can corporate codes of ethics influence behavior? Journal of Business Ethics, 17(6), 619–630.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Cornelissen, J. P., Haslam, S. A., & Balmer, J. M. T. (2007). Social identity, organizational identity and corporate identity: Towards an integrated understanding of processes, patternings and products. British Journal of Management, 18, S1–S16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Du, S., Bhattacharya, C. B., & Sen, S. (2007). Reaping relational rewards from corporate social responsibility: The role of competitive positioning. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 24(3), 224–241.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Economist. (2008a). Just good business. Special report on Corporate Social Responsibility, January 19, pp. 3–6.

  25. Economist. (2008b). The next question. Does CSR work? Special report on Corporate Social Responsibility, January 19, p. 10.

  26. Economist. (2008c). Going global. CSR is spreading around the world but in different guises. Special report on Corporate Social Responsibility, January 19, pp. 18–20.

  27. Economist. (2010a). Business and NGOs, reaching for a longer spoon. June 5, p. 75.

  28. Economist. (2010b). Shumpeter. Companies aren’t Charities. October 23, p. 82.

  29. Ellen, P., Webb, D., & Mohr, L. (2006). Building corporate associations: consumer attributions for corporate socially responsible programs. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 34(2), 147–157.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Friedman, M. (1970). The social responsibility of business is to increase profits. The New York Times Magazine, September 13.

  31. Friedman, M., Mackey, J., & Rodgers, T. J. (2005). Rethinking social responsibility: Putting customers ahead of investors. Reason Magazine, October.

  32. Fukukawa, K., Balmer, J. M. T., & Gray, E. R. (2007). Mapping the interface between corporate identity, ethics and corporate social responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics, 76(1), 1–5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Gray, E. R., & Balmer, J. M. T. (2001). Ethical identity: What is it? What of it? Bradford School of Management working paper series, 01/15.

  34. Gray, E. R., & Balmer, J. M. T. (2004). The sustainable entrepreneur. Bradford School of Management working paper series, 04/14. www.brad.ac.uk/acad/management/external/pdf/…/Booklet_04-14.pdf.

  35. Grene, S. (2010). BP crisis highlights value of sustainability exploration. Financial Times, June 14, p. 8 (FTfm section).

  36. Greyser, S. A. (2009). Corporate brand reputation and brand crisis management. Management Decision, 47(4), 590–602.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Hansen, S. D., Dunford, B. B., Boss, A. D., Boss, R. W., & Angermeier, I. (2011). Corporate social responsibility and the benefits of employee trust: A cross-disciplinary perspective. Journal of Business Ethics. doi:10.1007/s10551-011-0903-0.

  38. ISO. (2010). ISO 26000 project overview. http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/management_and_leadership_standards/social_responsibility/sr_iso26000_overview.htm#sr-1. Accessed March 15, 2011.

  39. Lord Browne of Madingley. (2001). Unpublished key note address delivered at the International Corporate Identity Group (ICIG) symposium held at Brown’s Hotel, London.

  40. Maignan, I., & Ferrell, O. C. (2004). Corporate social responsibility and marketing: An integrative framework. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 32(1), 3–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Maignan, I., Ferrell, O. C., & Ferrell, L. (2005). A stakeholder model for implementing social responsibility in marketing. European Journal of Marketing, 39(9/10), 956–977.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Milmo, D. (2008). BA Humbug—or the best way of doing good? The Guardian, November 11, p. 27.

  43. Noland, J., & Phillips, R. (2010). Stakeholder engagement, discourse ethics and strategic management. International Journal of Management Reviews, 12(1), 39–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Palazzo, G., & Basu, K. (2006). The ethical backlash of corporate branding. Journal of Business Ethics, 73(4), 333–346.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Parguel, B., Benoît-Moreau, F., & Larceneux, F. (2011). How sustainability ratings might deter “greenwashing”: A closer look at ethical corporate communication. Journal of Business Ethics. doi:10.1007/s10551-011-0901-2.

  46. Podnar, K., & Golob, U. (2007). CSR expectations: The focus of corporate marketing. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 12(4), 326–340.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Pomering, A., & Dolnicar, S. (2009). Assessing the prerequisite of successful CSR implementation: Are consumers aware of CSR initiatives? Journal of Business Ethics, 85(Suppl 2), 285–301.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Porter, M. E., & Kramer, M. R. (2006). Strategy and society: The link between competitive advantage and corporate social responsibility. Harvard Business Review, 84(12), 78–92.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Powell, S. M. (2007). Organisational marketing, identity and the creative brand. Journal of Brand Management, 15(1), 41–56.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Powell, S. M., & Dodd, C. (2007). Managing vision and the brand within the creative industries. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 12(4), 394–413.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Powell, S. M., Elving, W. J. L., Dodd, C., & Sloan, J. (2009). Explicating ethical corporate identity in the financial sector. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 14(4), 440–455.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Sen, S., & Bhattacharya, C. B. (2001). Does doing good always lead to doing better? Consumer reactions to corporate social responsibility. Journal of Marketing Research, 38(2), 225–243.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Stanaland, A. J. S., Lwin, M. O., & Murphy, P. E. (2011). Consumer perceptions of the antecedents and consequences of corporate social responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics. doi:10.1007/s10551-011-0904-z.

  54. Urde, M. (2009). Uncovering the corporate brand’s core values. Management Decision, 47(4), 616–638.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Vaaland, T. I., Heide, M., & Grønhaug, K. (2008). Corporate social responsibility: Investigating theory and research in the marketing context. European Journal of Marketing, 42(9/10), 927–953.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. van Riel, C. B. M. (1995). Principles of corporate communication. London: Prentice Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Vidaver-Cohen, D. (1998). Moral climate in business firms: A conceptual framework for analysis and change. Journal of Business Ethics, 17(11), 1211–1226.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Wilkinson, A., & Balmer, J. M. T. (1996). Corporate and generic identities: Lessons from the co-operative bank. International Journal of Bank Marketing, 14(4), 23–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Worcester, R. Sir. (2009). Reflections on corporate reputations. Management Decision, 47(4), 573–602.

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Shaun M. Powell.

Appendices

Appendices

Appendix 1

See Fig. 1.

Fig. 1
figure1

Balmer’s 1998 corporate marketing mix. The 10 Ps of corporate marketing. NB: The 11th dimension: Promise (relating to the corporate brand) was subsequently added by Balmer (in Balmer and Greyser 2006) to accommodate the important corporate brand identity type. Source: Balmer (1998)

Appendix 2

See Table 6.

Table 6 Explaining the 10 and 11 Ps of Balmer’s corporate marketing mix of 1998

Appendix 3

See Fig. 2.

Fig. 2
figure2

Balmer’s second corporate marketing mix (2001): HE2ADS2. Source: Balmer (2001)

Appendix 4

See Table 7.

Table 7 Explaining the seven dimensions (HE2ADS2) of Balmer’s second corporate marketing mix of 2001

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Balmer, J.M.T., Powell, S.M. & Greyser, S.A. Explicating Ethical Corporate Marketing. Insights from the BP Deepwater Horizon Catastrophe: The Ethical Brand that Exploded and then Imploded. J Bus Ethics 102, 1 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-011-0902-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • BP brand
  • Brand positioning
  • Deepwater horizon
  • Ethical corporate marketing
  • Corporate marketing
  • Ethical corporate identity
  • Sustainable entrepreneurship
  • Sustainability
  • Ethical corporate brands