Today I was among several thousand participants in Dhaka, Bangladesh for the first event of its kind. The World Marketing Summit brings together global leaders in marketing to discuss how marketing philosophies, approaches and insights can help discover innovative solutions to global challenges. The summit is an initiative of the marketing guru (yes, that’s how they refer to him) Phillip Kotler with the full support of the Bangladesh government. This level of support was notable by the attendance and opening speech given by Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister.
The opening session included remarks from Supachai Panitchpakdi, the Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and formerly the Director-General of the World Trade Organization. He noted the important role marketing must play in the development of markets in emerging countries and called for a new marketing that emphasizes:
- Having a moral value or compass (where he made reference to Adam Smith’s “other” book – The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
- Dealing with asymmetries of information in markets.
- Encouraging the technology transfer of marketing know-how.
- Increasing competition in south-south trade.
The Prime Minister called on the Summit participants to look for possible solutions to contemporary global challenges through the prism of marketing (a point we have noted in this blog before). She asked us to consider questions such as:
- Can marketing be used to moderate both consumer and market behavior so as to bring a greater balance between business interest and consumer interest?
- Can marketing influence the demand for goods and services?
- Can marketing help shape government policies and priorities for sustainable and green development?
- Can marketing approaches be modified and adjusted to help secure progress without worsening inter-generational equity?
The Prime Minister also encouraged us to examine how marketing can play a catalytic role in equitable development; help businesses internalize a development perspective in their work; further fair competition and consumer benefits; and create value and generate knowledge. She concluded with the observation: “If we can act in the spirit of sharing and promoting collective interest and benefit, many of our challenges in the areas of food security, nutrition and health, skill development for decent employment, and natural resource utilization would be easy to address…marketing can help politicians and policy makers shape societies based on fairness, mutual benefit and equity.”
As I listened to her and the other speakers, I knew why I was here. My soul soared and I thought: “It is a good time to be a social marketer.”