Move over John McCain - we WOMMA members rocked the "town hall" debate today at the WOMMA Summit 08 in Las Vegas. The hot topic of conversation? A review of the WOMMA Ethics Code.
The foundation of WOMMA's code of ethics is what the organization calls the "Honesty of ROI," i.e. honesty of relationships, honesty of opinion, and honesty of identity. In other words, in abiding with this code, WOMMA members pledge never to disguise their relationships with clients, misrepresent their opinions (or those of others), or operate under a false identity.
The real debate erupted over the idea of awarding cash payment for bloggers, consumers, etc. to promote your product. While everyone in the room more or less agreed that any paid promoter would absolutely HAVE to disclose their identity as such, the line beyond that was uncertain. What qualifies as a legitimate disclosure? Can anybody paid in cash to promote a product be considered "legitimate" to begin with, regardless of the disclosure? What's the deal for employees who genuinely love a product produced by their employer? How young is too young to employ (paid or not) to take part in your WOMM? Is WOMM for controlled or harmful substances (pharma, alcohol, cigarettes) unethical by default because it promotes a potentially harmful product?
And more importantly, when does all this mess get to be just too much? How can you even market anymore when you're so caught up in the semantics of our ethics code?
I offer no solutions to this debate at the moment because frankly, I think the questions are more interesting! For more recaps about this year's summit, check out www.womma.org - but right now I'm off to enjoy the rest of our few precious remaining hours in LAS VEGAS!