AT&T Case Study: Ethical and Legal Considerations

Mobile Marketing Law:  The mobile marketing law violated in the AT&T case was mobile cramming. This is a ‘”…modern version of a long-time scam in which consumers’ phone bills are used as a vehicle for unauthorized charges placed by third parties” (FTC, 2021).
Consequences: The FTC had to pay almost 2.7 million consumers over $88 million in refunds totaling about $31 a person because of the mobile cramming.

  • Negative Consequences: The negative consequences to the consumers are added charges that they pay for unknowingly and without reason. The consumer is kept in the dark while the company makes more money off them.
    Possible Penalties:  Possible penalties levied on a company for violating legal considerations are mostly serious fines. The higher and more consistent the violation, the more fines incurred for the business. Some violations can include upwards of 10 years in federal prison.

Marketing Response:  Marketers must consistently ask themselves if they are remaining ethical in any mobile marketing campaign. Understanding the specific policies and rules that apply to the type of mobile marketing campaign put together, is key to staying ethical. Anything needing the permission of consumers should be asked immediately along with any information about the business ready and easily accessible for all consumers. Transparency is key to the customers understanding the business. In addition, prohibiting the practices of spam calls and emails will be crucial.


FTC. (2019, August 22). Mobile Cramming. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved October 10, 2021, from

FTC. (2019, May 23). FTC providing over $88 million in refunds to AT&T customers who were subjected to mobile cramming. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved October 10, 2021, from

McGuireWoods. (2020, October 6). FTC fines: FTC chairman reminds companies that fines are the FTC’s strategic tool to deter noncompliance. JD Supra. Retrieved October 10, 2021, from

Mobile Devices as Marketing Tools

  • Advantages over Traditional:

An advantage of mobile phones and tablets as a marketing tool could be that the marketers have a new way of reaching consumers. With the mobile marketing on the rise, mobile phones and tablets are new tools for marketers to reach those they could not with traditional marketing. As of February 2021, almost 97% of Americans have a cellular device and about 85% of those consumers have a smartphone (Pew Research Center, 2021). The move to Americans having these handheld marketing tools all the time will help businesses increase product sales and awareness. There are SMS messages for those cell phones along with apps and links to websites for those smartphone users. “Preliminary data show good response rates for mobile campaigns (5% click rates vs. 1% for conventional web ads)” (Bruemmer, 2007), which means that consumers are more likely to follow through with a link when mobile marketing instead of a link on a conventional web ad. Mobile marketing allows for the consumers to have a point of sale system right in their hands due to Ecommerce and online stores. Customer’s phones allow marketers to form a bond with their consumers as they have a immediate way to contact and/or market to the individual. These people have electronic devices with some companies that have the location and data for the mobile marketers to use. This is an advantage over traditional marketing as part of “getting leads” and building a customer based is completed by some phone carriers. Mobile marketing also could enable customer loyalty programs by allowing them to have specific perks on their mobile apps and/or phones like electronic coupons on your rewards card for later use.


Mobile Marketing Constraints:

A common constraint that the mobile marketing faces is the thought of the “small screen” of the mobile devices. Because of its normally small size, this cuts back on the amount of ads that can be seen by the consumers on their devices. The strategy is to make sure your message is clear and concise about what you are trying to market and why without making too much noise that the consumers finds your ad intrusive. Marketers have to determine what the important part of their message is and condense it as an app and/or website on a mobile device with multiple little ads is not appeasing to the eye. This will result in the consumer not following through with a purchase or opting-in for any marketing programs.

Another constraint would be the content that is being mobile marketed. The content of the marketing message has to be something that customers/potential customers are interested in or have a want/need that your product can achieve. Given the fact that mobile marketers have to select what the message will be in order to be seen by the customer, the content of that message is just as important. The strategy is for, “Brands have to think about their role when they appear on the mobile screen, because mobile is the most personalized screen,” said Ram Krishnan, senior VP-chief marketing officer at PepsiCo” (Morrison, 2016). For example, Clorox started to market based on the, “how-to and need- based approaches” (Morrison, 2016). This means making sure your product comes across as something the customer needs. This strategy helps with positioning your company, as a place that the potential consumer would really benefit from.


Bruemmer, P. (2021, August 26). The Pros and cons of Mobile Marketing. Search Engine Land. Retrieved September 10, 2021, from

Morrison, M. (2016, February 22). NO, SERIOUSLY. IT’S THE YEAR OF MOBILE; More and more marketers are prospecting for mobile gold. It’s easier said than done–and it’s not right for everyone. Advertising Age, 87(4).

Pew Research Center. (2021, April 26). Demographics of mobile device ownership and adoption in the United States. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. Retrieved September 10, 2021, from

Marketing Objectives

Marketing objectives are important to an organization when trying to help the marketer implement their ideas/plan. Companies use the objectives because it helps guide the marketer to get their job done. It gives them a sense of consistency so the marketers remain on task. The objectives give the organization a consistent reminder of what they should be doing to achieve their marketing goals. The marketing objectives also give the organization a sense of direction and making sure they have everything they need in order to complete their marketing tasks. Businesses can use marketing objectives to gain more customers and/or retain reoccurring customers to bring in consistent money. The other way objectives could be used is by helping the company bring in more money by finding out new marketing strategies to help drive the business positively.

Aligning marketing activities with the mission, objectives, and goals of the organization should begin by including goals that are “S.M.A.R.T”, Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Frame. Aligning the marketing activities with the core of the organization includes having objectives that withhold the rules and fiber of the organization. For example, if the core (i.e. goals, missions, and objectives) has something to do with a product being manufactured from ethically sourced companies; the marketing activities need to also reflect that and be honest in how they are portraying the organization in the marketing strategies. If the company does not adhere to the legal or ethical issues that may occur within the development of the marketing goals, the business could see some big problems both financially and legally. For example, if the objectives of a business’s marketing team are mirroring those of another business, the ending result could be similar marketing strategies like the same commercial or printed ad concepts. This could lead to some ethical and/or legal issues when it comes to copyright infringement. Another issue could be the objectives putting forth false claims about the company. This could lead to misleading information about what the business has to offer could in turn mislead the consumers.

Ranasinghe Marketing Manager/Lecturer/Trainer Follow, M. (2012, February 22). How to develop marketing objectives. SlideShare.

Market Segmentation

Finding a target market for a business to market to can be challenging. To help with defining the target market, a marketer has a few tools they can use. One specific tool marketers can use is the PRIZM approach. Using the geographical segmentation, the PRIZM approach can be used to identify and group customers together. The customers grouped together normally lead the same kind of lives, follow the same trends, interested in similar media/news, etc. This tool is helpful because the marketer can see which kinds of people they are trying to market to and if it will be well received by the potential customers. The PRIZM tool helps marketers stay on track with who would be more interested in the product/service. The people in the cluster that would benefit more from the product could also tell more people about the product/service. The word of mouth marketing aspect plays a roll with this tool because if the marketer reaches one person within the segmentation group geographically, those people will speak to to other like minded consumers that lead the same lives. Using the information from the PRIZM tool will allow for marketers to focus on those customers who can and will buy the product. The information incorporated with this tool will allow for the marketing plan to be precise in who will be consistent customers.

Another tool that marketers can use to help define the target market is Think With Google. Think with Google is a digital marketing tool to help businesses in anyway possible. They have tools to like “Find My Audience” that can help the marketer find out who is important to the business. Which customers are the people who buy the most and often enough that the business should not lost them as patrons. They also have a “Market Finder” tool that helps a business find their niche in the global market. There is also a “trend” tool to show what customers search behaviors are. These tools can help with the development of a marketing plan because the “Find my Audience” tool can help show, beyond demographics, which customers will be those who will continue to buy or invest in the company. Once the marketing plan has been set with an audience, the plan would have to be geared towards the global market. The “market finder” will help develop what kind of plan would be useful and bring in the most customers globally. The information gather from this tool will ensure the marketing message is understood around the world. The “Trends” tool is also helpful in the development of a marketing plan because the tool will allow marketers to see what customers or potential customers are wanting/needing. Identifying the needs and wants of a particular set of people can ensure consumers will buy because the marketer is providing a solution.


Kaplan, A. (n.d.). 6 Online Tools Anyone Can Use To Identify Your Target Audience. Blog.

N.A. (2020, December 29). PRIZM® Premier: Behavioral Marketing & Audience Segments. Claritas LLC.

N.A. (2021, June 16). Market Segmentation: Everything to Know in 2020 // Qualtrics. Qualtrics.

Songate, J. (2021, April 27). The Best Customer Segmentation Tools in 2021. Baremetrics.

Is Target Green for Profit or Green for the Environment?

The first company that comes to mind when I think socially and/or ethically responsible is Target. They pride themselves with having a corporate responsibility as they have a whole separate page on their website to explore the different areas they are trying to benefit. They state, “We’re putting the needs of people, communities and the planet at the heart of how we work today, to help build a better tomorrow.” (Target, 2020). Target conducts business in a socially responsible way in many different avenues. They participate in public policy and legislation by working with elected officials to speak up for social matters. Another reason they conduct social responsible business is by investing into the communities where their stores are. They will conduct community events to reach out and provide good paying jobs for inner city employees. The company also make sure to have responsible sourcing as their mission is to, “ensure that our vendors utilize efficient, safe and ethical factory environments where they can produce safe, reliable, high-quality products”(Target, 2020). This means ensuring the products they have in their stores were made leaving the least carbon footprint as possible along with the workers who have made the products are being treated well.

Although Target has put forth the effort to be socially responsible and do business in an ethical manner, the business has been accused of not doing so in some cases. In 2018, Target paid a settlement of $3.4 million and review their policies on job applicant screening. In the case of Carnella Times et al. v. Target Corp, it “claimed that Target’s use of criminal background checks violated Title VII by disproportionally excluding Black and Hispanic applicants from obtaining employment” (Bennett, 2018). Target would use a third party to conduct their minimal background checks and “weed out” the people who did not meet “Target’s hiring guidelines” (Bennett, 2018). This would include people who were, “convicted of certain crimes involving violence, theft, or controlled substances in the seven years prior to the application.” (Bennett, 2018). This included all different jobs that Target was hiring for like cashiers, maintenance, stockers, and more however the applicants were not told that. They stated, “Target’s hiring guidelines are not job-related or consistent with business necessity for hourly, entry level jobs such as food service workers, stockers, cashiers, and cart attendants” (Bennett, 2018). This means the guidelines are for upper management and not needed for the frontline workers. Applicants were upset because they were being shuffled out of the hiring mix based on guidelines that do not apply to the job position they were applying to.

I believe Target is “green” for both profit and environment. I think this because they put forth great effort in making sure they are corporately responsible in the world. From making sure their products are made with sustainable ingredients to collaborating with sustainable companies. They also ensure the vendors they are with are too responsible. However, given the market for “green” products, I am sure Target is pleased with the profits.

Bennett, M. (2018, April 09). Target’s $3.74 million settlement is a reminder to Employers Utilizing background checks. Retrieved February 21, 2021, from