Monday, May 12, 2008

Marketing for the bad guys?

I sincerely believe that most of us want to believe that we’re good people. Most of us hold respectable jobs, with respectable firms, and bring home an honest paycheck. We use that money to pay our fair share of taxes, make payments on our mortgage, and save money towards our retirement. At night, we kiss our children, tuck them into their beds, and then get a good night sleep before going to work and doing it all over again the next day.

However, we’re also aware of that other element that is out there. The “bad guys”. The people that prey on the suffering of others to bring in their income. Among the most insidious of these are the people in the drug cartels and the dealers that distribute their product. Recently, a new trend has developed in the marketing of drugs: Fruit flavored cocaine has begun to surface in recent drug busts.

The question is: Who is this being marketed to? The answer is obvious; they are marketing this product to the very children we tuck into bed. As stated in the article:

“The case comes as authorities were already wrestling with the emergence last year of pink, strawberry-flavored crystal methamphetamine, which hit the streets in California in early 2007 and has since spread as far east as Virginia, where state police seized a pound of the drug three weeks ago in the small town of Galax.

‘Meth has sort of a bitter, nasty taste, so it’s kind of easy for the young kids to get into this,’ said Henry Spiller, director of the Kentucky Regional Poison Center in Louisville. ‘It’s an effort to make meth more appealing.’” [1]

This begs another question: Who came up with the marketing strategy? Who determined the idea that this might be the demographic that should be targeted? Considering that cartels already employ a large number of other professionals on their staff for distribution, transportation, even accounting and legal resources, is it so hard to believe that they don’t have someone with a marketing background on their staff?

While few, if any, of us could imagine taking money from a criminal enterprise like this, ultimately someone will. The question is whether this is someone who is holding an MBA or someone just trying something new in the market on a hit-and-miss basis. Frighteningly, this particular case smacks of the former.

[1] MS-NBC. Sniffing out a fruit-flavored trend in cocaine. April 17, 2008. Retrieved from on April 28, 2008.