The primary subject matter of this case concerns marketing ethics and strategy. Secondary issues examined include the evaluation and selection of direct marketing tactics. The key words for the case indicate the major areas for student learning: marketing ethics, marketing strategy, direct marketing, telemarketing, consumer privacy, banking and credit cards. The case is most appropriate for the junior level or above, including the graduate level, so it has a difficulty level ranging from three to five. The case is designed to be taught in two class hours and is expected to require three hours of outside preparation by students.
Rebecca MacDonald receives a call concerning a "special opportunity" being offered to Peerless Bank's Visa cardholders, a program called "Basics" which offers discounts at retailers and reimbursement for haircuts in exchange for an annual fee charged against her Visa card. Rebecca is interested but unable to obtain literature without consenting to enroll for a trial period. After deciding not to enroll, she wonders about the ethics of the bank's marketing tactics and considers whether to put herself on a do-not-call list. Following a review of the regulatory environment pertaining to consumer privacy, telemarketing and banking, the case transitions to a discussion of these issues by Peerless' management that could well be taking place in light of the times. Management questions the choice and execution of the telemarketing strategy and decides to re-evaluate the offering and its promotion in light of ethical, regulatory and competitive concerns. The Note on the Commercial Banking Industry, especially prepared for this case, places this episode in its larger and important context.
Rebecca MacDonald's call from Peerless Bank reports on a call the first author of the paper received. Rebecca's thinking mirrors the thinking and reflection this call prompted. Both authors have received other similar telephone calls. The material in the case on the commercial banking industry indicates why calls to consumers of this nature were occurring. The information on privacy legislation and regulation reveals a changing legal context requiring many organizations to reevaluate their marketing strategy and tactics.
1. To develop student facility in using ethical frameworks to evaluate marketing programs and practices
2. To increase student knowledge and understanding of telemarketing as a direct marketing strategy, including its advantages and effective, ethical implementation
3. To increase student knowledge of the specific and evolving legal constraints at the federal and state levels within which organizations must operate their direct marketing programs
4. To increase student awareness of the organizational consequences of product mix additions and related promotional decisions
5. To increase student sensitivity to the existence of multiple direct marketing alternatives in implementing a chosen strategy (e.g., telemarketing, targeted e-mails, in-bound telemarketing, personal selling)
6. To increase student understanding of an important and familiar industry--commercial banking--and how the business practices of a member of this industry are affected by changes in legislation, regulation and the actions of competitors.
7. To increase student understanding of how increasing concentration in an industry, as well as shareholder requirements for profit growth, can prompt an organization to use a direct marketing program to help it respond to these realities.
CASE QUESTIONS AND SUGGESTED ANSWERS
The following case questions cover a variety of topics, including ethics, legal factors, and marketing strategy and tactics. The breadth and depth of questions are intended to allow instructors flexibility in how they use the case to complement course material. …