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Educational Crusade or Product Masquerade? Exploring the Commercialization of Social Responsibility in America's Healthcare Industry
Unformatted Document Text:  COMMERCIALIZATION OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY 6 behavior. This leads to an increase in the already worrisome level of cynicism about, and distrust of, business. (in Andreasen, 2001, p.90) Shaping advertising principles, physician prescribing behaviors, public health policies, pharmaceutical agendas, and buyer interest, the influential effects and social implications of the blended marketing model go far beyond general consumer awareness. Social trust theory holds that “a person’s trust in an institution is built on an understanding of the institution’s goals, motives, and actions in relationship to the person’s values” (Lundgren & McMakin, 2004, p.24). Acknowledging that Merck’s promotional canvass clearly meets the guidelines of social marketing as described and defined throughout cited literature, the question raised by the present study is not whether or not Merck’s promotional efforts satisfy social marketing standards, but rather, whether the company’s educational crusade turned product masquerade is ethical, much less appropriate, in the health care arena. The research explores the implications stemming from deceptive marketing devices, and further examines ways in which branding recognition influences social trust in public health campaigns. While many scholars and entrepreneurs have exiled for-profit organizations from the realms of social marketing due to their “inward [orientation] toward making a profit,” Davidson & Novelli (2001) echo the affirmations made by countless other scholars when explaining, “there is nothing that excludes the efforts of for-profit firms from the field of social marketing” (Andreasen, 2001, p. 69). As a consequence of conventional standards, however, researchers are trained to overlook the canons of social marketing as a means for examining corporate campaigning. Studies suggest, Both social marketing practitioners and scholars can benefit from studying the occasional use of social marketing by for-profit firms: the former to broaden their search for

Authors: Crosswell, Laura.
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behavior. This leads to an increase in the already worrisome level of cynicism about, and 
distrust of, business. (in Andreasen, 2001, p.90) 
Shaping advertising principles, physician prescribing behaviors, public health policies, 
pharmaceutical agendas, and buyer interest, the influential effects and social implications of the 
blended marketing model go far beyond general consumer awareness.  
Social trust theory holds that “a person’s trust in an institution is built on an 
understanding of the institution’s goals, motives, and actions in relationship to the person’s 
values” (Lundgren & McMakin, 2004, p.24). Acknowledging that Merck’s promotional canvass 
clearly meets the guidelines of social marketing as described and defined throughout cited 
literature, the question raised by the present study is not whether or not Merck’s promotional 
efforts satisfy social marketing standards, but rather, whether the company’s educational crusade 
turned product masquerade is ethical, much less appropriate, in the health care arena. The 
research explores the implications stemming from deceptive marketing devices, and further 
examines ways in which branding recognition influences social trust in public health campaigns.   
While many scholars and entrepreneurs have exiled for-profit organizations from the 
realms of social marketing due to their “inward [orientation] toward making a profit,” Davidson 
& Novelli (2001) echo the affirmations made by countless other scholars when explaining, “there 
is nothing that excludes the efforts of for-profit firms from the field of social marketing” 
(Andreasen, 2001, p. 69). As a consequence of conventional standards, however, researchers are 
trained to overlook the canons of social marketing as a means for examining corporate 
campaigning. Studies suggest, 
Both social marketing practitioners and scholars can benefit from studying the occasional 
use  of  social  marketing  by  for-profit  firms:  the  former  to  broaden  their  search  for 

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