Friday, August 21, 2009

Roy Rogers and the Age of Transparency

I have always been fascinated by codes of conduct and marketing, perhaps because I believe the two are compatible and aren’t mutually exclusive even though it might not often be easily implemented in practice
My favorite codes were the ones I discovered back in my childhood. The text of two are reproduced below from

Roy Rogers Riders Club Rules
1. Be neat and clean.
2. Be courteous and polite.
3. Always obey your parents.
4. Protect the weak and help them.
5. Be brave, but never take chances.
6. Study hard and learn all you can.
7. Be kind to animals and care for them.
8. Eat all your food and never waste any.
9. Love God and go to Sunday School regularly.
10. Always respect our flag and our country.

Gene Autry's Code of Honor
1. A cowboy never takes unfair advantage - even of an enemy.
2. A cowboy never betrays a trust. He never goes back on his word.
3. A cowboy always tells the truth.
4. A cowboy is kind and gentle to small children, old folks, and animals.
5. A cowboy is free from racial and religious intolerances.
6. A cowboy is always helpful when someone is in trouble.
7. A cowboy is always a good worker.
8. A cowboy respects womanhood, his parents and his nation's laws.
9. A cowboy is clean about his person in thought, word, and deed.
10. A cowboy is a Patriot.

When I was a kid if you joined a fan club you were able to get a copy of these so-called Cowboy Codes and you could carry them around so you could live by these rules of conduct. Marketers have a published code of ethics. The Statement of Ethics of the American Marketing Association may be found at

I wonder how many marketers and those marketing their products and services carry a copy of, live by, or are even aware of this code of ethics. In this age of the Internet where non-brick and mortar businesses abound, and a professional look can be obtained for a Web site for pennies, not to mention sites like Amazon and eBay where a millions of secondhand businesses have mushroomed overnight. And let’s not forget “reality” television and second life technology environments in which the image that we want to become reality becomes “reality.”

Yes, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry played fictional characters, so it too was a false world. And maybe I live in my own false world. But in my world, there is a professional marketing code of conduct that must be followed similar to those Cowboy Codes of yesteryear.


  1. Howard, you covered a lot of ground in this blog. These days the content of these codes seem almost as mythical as cowboys. In addition to rules of conduct being available for marketers, I challenge you to narrow your scope to find rules of conduct that are adopted and followed in individual businesses. In my false world, integrity still has value. Consumers will pay for it. Communicating and executing integrity in business will reap rewards. If only I could find strong examples.

    -Glenn Hunter

  2. Glenn,

    Thanks so much for your comments. The only thing I can say is when I find a business that shows true integrity, I support it even if I
    have to pay a bit more.
    --Howard Wolosky