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Journal cover: European Business Review

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Online from: 1989

Subject Area: International Business

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Dark marketing: ghost in the machine or skeleton in the cupboard?

Document Information:
Title:Dark marketing: ghost in the machine or skeleton in the cupboard?
Author(s):Stephen Brown, (Department of Marketing, Strategy and Entrepreneurship, University of Ulster, Jordanstown, UK), Pierre McDonagh, (Dublin City University Business School, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland), Clifford Shultz, (Graduate School of Business Administration, Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Citation:Stephen Brown, Pierre McDonagh, Clifford Shultz, (2012) "Dark marketing: ghost in the machine or skeleton in the cupboard?", European Business Review, Vol. 24 Iss: 3, pp.196 - 215
Keywords:Dark marketing, Dark tourism, Death, Marketing concept, Marketing strategy
Article type:Conceptual paper
DOI:10.1108/095553412112224771 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – Dark marketing is the “the application or adaptation of marketing principles and practices to domains of death, destruction and the ostensibly reprehensible”. This paper examines the nature, character and extent of dark marketing, noting that it is made manifest in manifold shapes and forms.

Design/methodology/approach – Primarily a conceptual paper, this article includes several mini case studies – exemplars, rather – of dark marketing's many and varied expressions.

Findings – The paper considers the scale and scope of dark marketing, and endeavours to classify both. Dark marketing is discernible at micro, meso and macro scales. Its scope consists of four shades or degrees of darkness, entitled light dark marketing, slight dark marketing, quite dark marketing and night dark marketing. An evolutionary trend in the direction of darkness is also noted.

Research limitations/implications – The paper is a think piece, not an empirical analysis. It is, therefore, a first step rather than a definitive statement.

Practical implications – Practitioners and academics are inclined to regard marketing in a positive light, as a force for the good. Crusading journalists and certain social scientists see it as the spawn of the devil. This article argues that the dark and light aspects of marketing are inextricably intertwined.

Originality/value – The paper provides food for thought, a markedly different way of thinking about marketing and its place in the world.

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