Marketing with an un-safe product

An important phrase, as written by Kotler & Armstrong (2010) is “Responsible marketers must consider whether their actions are sustainable in the longer run”. When faced with the dilemma of having marketed an unsafe product, you will need to consider the fact that if the product is already on the market and it is known to be unsafe – it is probably safe to assume that the fact that it is an unsafe product will come to surface and, in my opinion,  the aim should be to cope with the bad press in a way that curves the negative image and hopefully builds a sustainable result.

Kotler & Armstrong (2010, p.609) outline this exact dilemma with it’s example on McDonalds and the bad press received due to their food being cooked in oils filled with trans-fats. McDonalds in turn has found a new source of food oil that is trans-fat free and does not sacrifice the taste of their french-fries (Kotler & Armstrong, 2010). Along with this they have also released additional product lines that cater for healthy eating (salads, etc).

While we also have the example as outlined by Kotler & Armstrong (2010, p. 613) of Hardee’s, a fast food chain that, at the time of a particularly health conscious media age (with focus on obesity and fast foods), released a new, incredibly high in calories (1410 calories) burger – with the attitude that their target consumer is able to choose between right and wrong; I personally do not see this as being a wiser decision than that of McDonalds.

The development of the safer alternative should be marketed well, and if the “unsafe” product is not a consumable product, I would consider allocating some of the budget towards allowing a discounted or free trade in for owners of the older models. With the devleopment of the safer, newer alternative, improvements on its eco-friendliness above and beyond it’s safety improvement should also be considered; if not, I would also consider the option of going the CSR (corporate social responsibility) route and donating a percentage of profits to a cause. While this may hurt current profits, the positive and honest image portrayed as “caring for the consumer” should aide in improving long term relationships.

I do not think that trying to ignore the fact that an unsafe product was released to the market would be beneficial in the long term, as that comes across as being un-trustworthy/underhanded – and trust is an important facet of any relationship, which definitely includes business.


Kotler, P. & Armstrong, G. (2010) Principles of Marketing. 13th (Global) ed. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

How cultural environment impacts the marketing of clothing

I would like to discuss how the cultural environment impacts the marketing of clothing.

Clothing is a large aspect of fashion and the fashion industry is one of the most prominent industries in the world, I think we can all agree on that. Although there are many different cultures in the world, we tend to generalise the global differences to eastern culture and western culture. Eastern culture has always tended to being the more modest, or conservative, when it comes to clothing while the West is renound for the “less is more” look amongst women mainly, and has a wide range of predominantly casual attire for men (of course, this is a vast generalisation).

Gökarıksel (2009) discusses in a paper on the Turkish fasion industry about how, after a fashion show, the designer (Tebkir, Turkey’s leading producer of women’s Islamic attire) was criticised by local tabloids for “seducing” the consumers “through the use of young, attractive models” (Gökarıksel, 2009). Gökarıksel goes on to talk about how many Islamic scholars and journalists have written about how “veiling-fashion” goes against the Islamic principles of “israf” (waste) and “frown upon the display involved in modelling and fashion”.

Another good example is in Brazil. Artigas & Calicchio (2007) did a study on the Brazillian consumer with regards to purchasing of clothing. Brazil poses itself a potential “dream” to any retailer according to Artigas & Colicchio (2007), but their study has shown that Brazillians are far more likely to buy from local suppliers than multinational “big brand suppliers”. In their study, Artigas & Colicchio (2007) asked Brazillian consumers whether they trusted local brands more than international and 81% of the respondents agreed that local is better, as well as being of a higher quality. Another question posed was whether or not they were ok with purchasing on credit, more than 60% of the respondents were in agreement that credit purchases are acceptablel; this contrasts to 30% in India, 24% in Russia and 13% in China (Artigas & Colicchio, 2007).

Another angle to look at is the culture that goes with a brand itself. Thinking locally, in South Africa (where I live), we have a number of brands that are themselves associated with a certain economic demographic (as described by Kotler & Armstrong, 2010, p41 in their Best Buy example). For example, we have PEP stores which is one of the lowest price clothing retailers and caters to the low-income consumers whereas there are shops like Levi’s which is more middle class and Diesel Clothing or Fabiani which caters to the high earning consumers.

Through all of these examples that have been outlined above, marketing the clothing products will potentially be completely different. Marketing to an Islamic, female culture will be very different than marketing to a high-incomed Fabiani customer in South Africa, which will also contrast when marketing to a credit-friendly, locally loyal consumer in Brazil. Whether or not the clothes are in-fact the same style and the same brand, the marketing of them must be carefully based around the culture and demographic; the “Place” P in the 4 P’s of Marketing – Product, price, place and promotion (Kotler & Armstrong, 2010, p.36).


Artigas, M, & Calicchio, N 2007, ‘Brazil: Fashion conscious, credit ready’, McKinsey Quarterly, 4, pp. 76-79, EBSCOhost [Online]. Available from: (Accessed: 9 July 2011).

Gökarıksel, B. (2009) ‘New transnational geographies of Islamism, capitalism and subjectivity: the veiling-fashion industry in Turkey’, Area Mar2009, 41 (1), pp.6-13, EBSCOhost [Online]. Available from: (Accessed: 9 July 2011).

Kotler, P. & Armstrong, G. (2010) Principles of Marketing. 13th (Global) ed. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Does team building help the cohesion of a team?

I do believe that team building activities will support cohesion of a group and improve effectiveness. Personally, I have not worked for a company that has sent my team and myself on team building excursions.

From my experience in conversing with colleagues who have been to team building exercises, the team building activities are usually not work-related and aimed toward the general character of the group members on a whole; for example, a male-only team of programmers were sent go-kart racing. Situations like this would set-aside the ‘roles’ of the members in the group and put everyone on a level playing field. All members get to compete with one another in a good natured sporting activity. This allows all members to come out of their shell and shine in a fun situation. One issue I find a bit unusual about this team building approach is that the team members are put against each other instead of together; this seems like an approach that would encourage individualism more than team work.

Another team building exercise that my colleagues have been involved in was a paint-ball game where the team was working together to defeat their opponent team which were just another group of people at the paint-ball game. I think this approach is far more effective towards building a team spirit. Each team member has their role in the “battle” and must look out for one another. In an activity like paint-ball I believe this will also potentially bring out the individual characters, the risk takers, the safe-players etc.

Richardson (n.d.) outlines some benefits of team-building exercises;

  1. Common Goal – Team-building exercises are aimed at working together, they allow the team to work together towards a common goal.
  2. Trust – Team members must trust their fellow colleagues in these exercises. Everyone has the spirit of agreement.
  3. Ideas & Participation – These exercises allow all team members to be involved and give their ideas and work together.
  4. Motivation – Team building exercises “creates an environment that motivates people to achieve the goals and objectives of the organisation while subordinating individual goals” (Richardson, n.d.).
  5. Rapport – Team members learn personal details about their colleagues which enables them to gain rapport for each other as well as increased tolerance towards each other.
  6. Organisational Benefits – Members of the team are driven towards achieving results more than individual recognition which will help the organisation as their employees will be more focused on the organisational goals than their personal goals.

Personally I would welcome more team building opportunities, not only from the view of an employer but also from the view of a team member. A team building event with the teams I work with for different clients as well as my small team of contractors would definitely improve morale. One of my largest clients is suffering from a low morale amongst employees and, from my observations, the employees are feeling disjointed and uninvolved – more team building would benefit them greatly.

Something I am in two-minds about is the possibility of physical team building exercises, depending on the individual team members, may also encourage “bullying” to some degree. If a “leader” is physically passive and a subordinate is physically dominant things may tend to go off track, especially if there are underlying resentments. As much as bullying should be left on the playground (if anywhere at all), adults are quite capable of childishness and bullying.

In conclusion, I think that team building is a good method of getting employees more enthusiastic about an organisation. I do believe it should be encouraged and even if it is not a high-budget exercise, it is better than none at all. As far as the exercise the team should be involved in, I think, it would definitely need to be something that involves the team working together (eg: the paint-ball scenario) rather than against one another (go-karting).


Richardson, M (n.d.) What Are the Benefits of Team-Building? [Online] eHow. Available from: (Accessed: 27 February 2011).

Electronic Bullying or Freedom of Speech?

Raskauskas (2007) mentions that with the advent of the Internet and the increasing availability thereof, has come a new form of bullying involving text messages, web sites, emails and instant messaging. Raskauskas’s study is researching two sides of the electronic bullying demographic which I think are both quite feasible. The first being that the likelihood of a real life bully becoming an electronic bully is quite high, but secondly that the victims of bullying could turn to electronics to become bullies themselves due to the anonymity. I think this is entirely likely, anyone who has spent time on the internet during their youth, in chat rooms more than likely, have come across the typical cyber bully, using their authority (access level/user rights) to persecute other users.

As far as responsibilities go, it is my personal belief that (in the case of students) it is both the school and the parents who should be intervening and trying to control the situation. Stavros and Androniki (2010) mention that schools should involve the entire faculty along with the students in producing a policy against cyber bullying, that cell phone use should be prohibited in school and punishments should be clearly defined and explained to all parties. They also mention that all students and parents should sign and accept the policy on cyber-bullying in schools, I believe this will increase accountability and make the seriousness of the situation more accepted instead of it being looked at as a trivial or perhaps humorous act.

Greg (2009) has written a blog post on a student who made a YouTube defamatory video about another student. The student was suspended from school for two days. A judge ruled that the school had no right to suspend the child from school as it did not cause any disruption of the school’s activities. The judge wrote that “The court cannot uphold school discipline of student speech simply because young persons are unpredictable or immature”. In Greg’s article he describes the freedom of speech as a rule to protect bullies, while this is probably not the case, there does rein some truth.

Masnick (2010) has a similar article on cyber bullying regarding comments made against a student on his website. In this story the California court said that the online bullying was not protected free speech. This shows that there are still some issues to be revisited when it comes to free speech laws, clearly, is has been a difficult task due to differing opinions of hate speech and arguments against freedom of speech.

I don’t believe that electronic bullying in the workplace falls far from school bullying. Morrall and Urquhart (2004) write that harassment, whether in or out of the workplace is punishable by law. Under the UK Public Order Act of 1986 “a criminal offence is committed where a person intentionally harasses another by using threatening or abusive language, whether orally or in writing, which causes another person harassment, alarm or distress”.



Greg (2009) Freedom of Speech vs. Bullying [Online]. Available from: (Accessed: 26 December 2010).

Masnick, M (2010) California Court Says Online Bullying Is Not Protected Free Speech [Online]. Available from: (Accessed: 26 December 2010).

Morrall, S & Urquhart, C (2004) ‘Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace’ Legal Information Management; Autumn 2004, 4 (3), pp.164-167, EBSCO [Online]. Available from: (Accessed: 26 December 2010).

Raskauskas, J (2007) ‘Involvement in traditional and electronic bullying among adolescents’ Developmental Psychology, 43 (3), pp.564-575, EBSCO [Online]. Available from: (Accessed: 26 December 2010).

Stavros, K & Androniki K (2010) ‘Cyberbullying: A Review of the Literature on Harrassment Through the Internet and Other Electronic Means’ Family & Community Health, 33 (2), OvidSP [Online]. Available from: (Accessed: 26 December 2010).

Ethical Hacking?

I believe that there are situations in which hacking a system would be ethical. Adams and McCrindle (2008) describe grey-hat attacks as having the aim of “identifying potential vulnerabilities and inform the organization of their weaknesses”; they also state that the reason for seeing grey-hat attacks as unethical is due to unintended consequences that may follow the attacks. I do not think that grey-hat techniques are ethical because of the risks they involve and that it is unethical to attack a system that you do not know or are unable to rectify (due to your lack of knowledge for the inner system).

In scenarios such as the response by hackers to WikiLeaks, users are hacking organisations and sites that fail to support WikiLeaks. An article by Neal (2010) described how a 16 year old boy from the Netherlands was arrested for his part in the “Operation Payback” DDoS attack on MasterCard and Visa. I also disagree with these tactics as no good is coming from it.

A scenario in which I would be pro-hacking is where the system in question is either involved in illegal activities or is involved in inciting illegal activities. Of course the hacking of this system would come after the correct measures of due diligence had been adhered to; such as reporting the system to their host, or to the authorities. An article by Brandt (2004) described how the NSA (National Security Agency – America) appeared at the “Defcon 12 hackers’ conference” to seek out highly skilled “hackers” to work for their organisation. Conspiracy theories aside, this scenario would be another ethical realm of hacking, to investigate illegal activities to help fight crime; anything from tracking down distributors of child pornography over the internet, to those who publish credit card details to the public.


Adams, A & McCrindle, J (2008) Pandora’s Box: Social and professional issues of the information age. England: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Brandt, A (2010) Feds Seek a Few Good Hackers [Online] PC World. Available from: (Accessed: 12 December 2010).

Neal, D (2010) Dutch teen arrested over WikiLeaks revenge hacks [Online] V3. Available from: (Accessed: 12 December 2010).


Responsibilities for Computing Professionals in Developing Material for the Internet

Responsibilities of the Computing Professional

The responsibilities of the computing professional, as covered in my previous posts, are both ethical and legal. It is our duty to inform and guide from our experience and expertise. The cliché of using our ‘powers’ for ‘good’ and not ‘evil’ can be broadly applied; as with almost any other profession.

Responsibilities Relating to Development of Internet Material

The word development here has a double connotation. Firstly the actual programming of “material” which could constitute any system that generates content or systems available on the internet or allows the generation of content on the internet. As discussed by Adams and McCrindle (2008, p.352), a number of malicious examples of software, created by computing professionals, are readily available on the Internet.

I’d like to briefly outline the relevant examples.

  1. Trojan Horses: These are quite literally as their name suggests, programs that pose as something innocent (most of the time), but hold inside them harmful code that will potentially damage your data or perform some other illicit task.
  2. Virus: This is a term many use to encompass all forms of malicious software, but is itself a specific type of malicious software. It can be carried with a Trojan Horse and usually replicates itself to other files and programs on the computer. Most of the time the program carries out a task that usually causes harm to data and possibly even hardware.
  3. Worm: These infections ‘worm’ their way through a network without requiring the means of a Trojan Horse or Virus to spread. If they are to spread outside of the current network they may also be carried via Trojan Horses.
  4. Zombie: These are programs designed to allow ‘back doors’ to a system so that it can be remotely accessed to perform a number of tasks (often used for Distributed Denial of Service attacks).

Secondly, perhaps a less direct means of our responsibility as computing professionals can be the “written” (typed) information we spread across the internet. Publicly releasing knowledge that could jeopardise systems is an ethical issue we need to take seriously. Sometimes, this may be a difficult decision to make but it is always something that should not be taken lightly.

Responsibilities Relating to the Usage of the Internet

Due to the global nature of the internet, its reach going into many secure facilities, government agencies, banks and other authorities; we must ensure that securing the implementations of these systems is a top priority. Adams and McCrindle (2008, p.368) describe black, white and grey hat crackers and the controversial issue of whether grey hat techniques are in the best interests of the organisation or not. Personally I am partial to both it being wrong and right as it really boils down to the situation at hand. If they grey-hat techniques simply identify back doors or other security threats without interfering or having negative effects on the current system, and provided the grey hat crackers do not plaster the vulnerabilities all over the internet – it may be acceptable. A paper by the Electronic Frontier Foundation mentions that grey-hat techniques may violate a number of laws such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Anti-Circumvention Provisions of the DMCA, Copyright Law and other state laws, so it is probably best to either secure your research or request permission beforehand when doing such techniques.


Adams, A & McCrindle, J (2008) Pandora’s Box: Social and professional issues of the information age. England: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (n.d.) A “Grey Hat” Guide [Online]. Available from: (Accessed: 5 December 2010).

The WIPO Copyright Treaty & Feasibility of Copyrights

As discussed by Adams and McCrindle (2008, p.423), the WIPO Copyright Treaty includes an increased moral right to the author of the work, as per their example in Germany and France that income derived from an authors work must always partially flow back to the author. Also mentioned repeatedly by Adams and McCrindle the development of patents and copyrights were brought about to encourage creativity and reward innovation. The basis of this I am in full agreement of and I do believe that creators of new innovations and ideas must be accredited and compensated for their work. In the WIPO Copyright Treaty (Adams and McCrindle, 2008, p.422), the copyright law extends to the life of the author plus 70 years after the authors death.

The limitations of copyrights I can see would be simply up to the copyright owners’ decisions on how to distribute or how much they distribute their work for. As depicted in a discussion on Google Answers (2002), where an author published a book at a very high price and then died leaving the copyright to no heirs – the public must wait 70 years until they are able to reprint the work at a more reasonable price to increase circulation.

In the feasibility of copyright value-adds and levies are really only accurately argued when considered alongside the fees that the publisher/producer etc. are adding on-top. Many argue from an idealist point of view that (commonly the argument is against musicians) artists should be doing what they do to enjoy the art and not to be all about the money; but in the world we live in – money is an important aid to quality of life and enjoyment (note: I am not saying it is what gives quality to life, but it does help a lot when compared to poverty), to quote Adams and McCrindle again, without reward for innovation and creativity, would there be as many innovations and hard work put into developing new medicines and techniques for helping people? Even music and entertainment is something important to this world.

Never mind being rich and famous but just having monetary compensation to pay bills while enhancing the new potentially life-saving innovations is something we should definitely consider feasible.

While some may take advantage of these laws we have to consider the good coming from it.


Adams, A & McCrindle, J (2008) Pandora’s Box: Social and professional issues of the information age. England: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Google Answers (2002) Q: Copyrights after an author’s death [Online]. Google: Available from: (Accessed: 28 November 2010).

If Data Protection is left to the Market, will only the Rich be truely Protected?

I think that it is somewhat unavoidable for a person to protect their data if we are to function in society at the same level of ease as the general populous. By saying this I mean, taking advantage of WiFi hotspots with our mobile devices, buying the latest cars and homes via bank finance (banks are more accepting of people with credit histories when giving credit), using the latest mobile devices with GPS capabilities and even having things like GPS tracking for security purposes in our vehicles; and not to forget, online shopping – even (some may say especially) using Facebook or other social networks.

If you were to avoid using all of these ‘luxury’ convenience items I think your data would be “safer” than if you did use them, but then how well could you function in todays society? Without a bank account, credit history, even internet access you are severely hampered from being able to actively and efficiently perform in today’s fast paced life.

The question of data protection going to the rich, I am not so sure how well the rich are covered in data protection, generally I would assume that the richer you are the more on the ‘government radar’ and ‘marketing radar’ you would be. With large transactions moving in and out of the country/even nationally the local tax authorities are generally flagged on such movements. While there may be ways around these issues I do not think there will be commercially available services to evade the ‘watch dogs’ of society, regardless of price. With many luxury subscriptions and items, your information is generally shared to marketing companies.

While my above point touches on potential ‘grey area’ privacy issues, for general privacy such as email and internet usage and personal data, I do think perhaps the wealthy would have a better chance of remaining ‘private’, with premium email service providers who run on SSL connections and perhaps a more dedicated means of connectivity onto the internet, the wealthier would be able to afford the means in which to encrypt and secure their data.

That said, the Open Source and Freeware Software movement is still fairly rife; while, arguably, sometimes not as ‘good’ – probably more accurate to say, not as comprehensive as the commercial applications; there are tools at no cost for securing the devices you use to access the outside world which may contain your private data.

Referring to my previous post, new laws for anti-spam and opt-in & opt-out communications are helping all areas of society maintain their privacy.

Ethical Responsibilities of the Computing Professional

What responsibilities do we as computing professionals have in our industry? Do we have a responsibility solely to follow the goals and policies of our company?

Computer professionals, in my opinion, have ethical responsibilities but I do believe that in some circumstances these responsibilities are unattainable due to external circumstance.

In general, I believe a computer professional should be able to grasp and understand the goal of the intended system or systems they are working on. Not only to make ethical judgement but to perform their role in the development of such system from an informed point of view. If the professional is aware of the overall goal that the system is being developed for and the implications of such a system, he or she should be able to make judgement whether they approve or disapprove of the ethics behind such a system.

The problem with ethics is that different people, cultures etc. have different beliefs in right and wrong. So in this scenario a code of ethics for the organisation should be established to avoid any blurred interpretation, also so that the perspective employees can review them before deciding to apply for a job at the organisation (Payne, 2003).

To directly answer the question of what computing professionals responsibility to society at large are, I would say, is to keep the views of the user and the law in mind, while adhering to their responsibility in their organisation. To look at it from a user’s perspective and think of the effects that the system may have, both positively and negatively on the general populous. As well, to not knowingly jeopardise a system by infringing on copyrights or patents (Adams & McCrindle, 2008, p.10).

That being said, I do not think it the blame should lie on the professional. Today with the cost of living, you cannot choose to leave your current employer (and salary) due to your beliefs that what they are doing is, perhaps, wrong in your definition.

I feel that the goal of such projects and the determining of right and wrong in the broader scheme should lie in the area of business ethics and would be aimed at the organisation and decision makers of the project more than the professionals involved in carrying out such tasks.

To summarise I would say the responsibility of the professional is to carry out their role in the project to their best ability and concentration, to ‘care’ about what they are doing with the bigger picture in mind, rather than just going through the motions. This will hopefully ensure a quality production. The business ethics of right and wrong is more the responsibility of the organisation.


Adams, A.A. & McCrindle, R.J. (2008) Pandora’s box: Social and professional issues of the information age. West Sussex, England: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Payne, D (2003) ‘Engineering ethics and business ethics: commonalities for a comprehensive code of ethics’, IEEE Region 5, 2003 Annual Technical Conference, pp.81-87, IEEE Xplore [Online]. DOI: 10.1109/REG5.2003.1199714 (Accessed: 7 November 2010).

What questions to ask in the Turing Test?

This issue is based on the “Turing Test” – you can read about the Turing Test and what it is by clicking here (to summarise, it is a test first proposed by Alan Turing where a human and a computer are asked a series of questions, and if the interrogator is unable to tell which is the computer, the computer has passed the “Turing Test” – the computer is able to “think”).

The 5 questions that I would ask the “computer” in the Turing Test would be the following:

  1. What was the most influential event of your childhood and how do you feel this event affects you today?
  2. Who are you as a person?
  3. Describe your feelings if you were to be given the opportunity to fly to the moon?
  4. If you were to draw yourself as an abstract painting, what colours and shapes would you use and why?
  5. What emotions have been involved in answering the questions that I have given you up to this point and what do you feel is the strongest question out of the 4?

I have chosen these questions as they are all fairly psychological and open to interpretation. While each individual question may be able to be answered individually, the group of questions describe a person’s personality and character in an abstract manner.

By looking at the answers to questions 1 and 4 you should be able to get the same idea as the answer to question 2 should give you, question 5 should culminate all questions and should be difficult to simulate a valid response, it is also completely dependent on the answers given to the previous 4 questions. Each question can change the final response in its own way. The second part of question 5 also can be interpreted based on human emotions involved in the answers to the previous 4 questions.

There is no definitive correct answer to any of the questions but human intuition will give the upper hand in deciding whether the answers given tie up to being human or machine.

PS: This is a highly debated topic of whether this test can really test for machine thought (AI), and some have proven that a series of random pre-programmed answers based on keywords may pass the test