By Mubarak Sooltangos

In this article, I will endeavour to lift the veil on some businesses which do not obey standard marketing rules. These rules advocate the selling of products which are not harmful, which offer value for money and which obey the rules of supply and demand. I will also talk about the English Premier League which is unique in its kind, for having created an empire driven by sheer opportunism, in the positive sense of the word.

The gambling business

For any business to be ethical, it should be based on producing useful goods or services and giving money’s worth to the buyer. The benefit can also be virtual with very short life as in the sector of leisure activities, and still be ethical. The gambling business, however, is centred on selling only illusion which rarely materialises and creating the dream that we can bet small and win big. Finally, what is the philosophy behind gambling? Is there any? There is nothing of this sort if we would care to reflect on its underlying structure and motives. It is based on sheer luck, where the probability of winning big on a sustained basis is relatively low in the case of conventional gambling and infinitesimally small in the case of the lottery business. As far as lotteries are concerned, we can hardly expect anything in return, so remote is the winning possibility. It is the customer’s inclination to dream which is being used as vector to sell a virtual product to him.

Gambling is a trade where considerable money changes hands without nothing being produced. The marketing tool used is to keep hope alive. The only winners are the promoters of the business and there is a very dark side to it. To eliminate risks and, so to say, to increase their chances of luck, if luck is such a thing which can at all be manipulated, some actors have recourse to race and match fixing, and this is where this business drifts into immorality on top of having no ethical basis. Gambling also has the capacity of making losers gamble on an increasing scale in the hope to recoup their previous losses. This is completely at the other extremity of the spectrum of demand, which says that the more we are satisfied with a product, the more we buy it. In gambling, sadly, the more we are dissatisfied, the more we bet. If a business has such a perverse effect, it should certainly be classified as being harmful and immoral.

The paradox is that even governments promote the gambling industry because it is a milking cow which brings in considerable amounts of taxes. True, these taxes can be put to good use, but is it ethical to spend tainted money to good ends, however commendable may be the intention, by promoting immoral activities which very often drive people to poverty, break families and jeopardize the future of children? It is an environment where the end of month state of mind of the gambler switches from the joy of receiving his salary to the misery of how he is going to meet the needs of his family when a large part of this salary is earmarked beforehand to pay debts caused by gambling.

The weapons business

Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind”. This is an absolutely good way of triggering an action and a decision because it gives us a set objective and helps us to work straight towards it, without unnecessary meanders along the way. It saves time and money and keeps us focused. This is even more of a requirement in production. The producer must know what the end use of his product is, and it is legitimate for him to try to enlarge his market by enlisting new buyers or improving his products. Has anybody ever imagined what is the end use of the products of the weapon industry? If this has never crossed our mind, we better become alive to it and measure the extent of the horror of the world we are living in.

Weapons are intended to take lives and to destroy infrastructure, if not civilizations. In their reflection on how to enhance the performance of their products, which would have been good thinking for any producer, weapon manufacturers are in a race to produce more and more lethal weapons capable of killing more and causing more harm. This is the state of mind of their researchers, namely to produce more of small things which will cause more damage to bigger things.

Just think how abysmal the animal instinct of a person can be, namely the scientist, who spends the most of his God given life researching how to take the lives of others, for the sake of filthy money. He has been made blind enough not to realise that the whole extent of his intellect will never be enough to allow him to create a single human cell. It is the research work of the most pervert nature the world has ever seen. Even the drug business, which is a despicable industry, does not aim at killing people. True, it does kill, but this is not his desired end, which is addiction to attract more sales. The players in this industry would rather see their victims live long, because they are a captive market, already enslaved to them.

For any business to be ethical, it should be based on producing useful goods or services and giving money’s worth to the buyer.

Governments will tell us that their nuclear capability is a must because they are not bent on attacking but on dissuading others from attacking them. If countries are acting in self-defence, where is the necessity of having as many as 7,000 nuclear war heads in the arsenal of each of the two super powers? And those who pile up nuclear weapons want the world to believe that they have no belligerent intention?

There is a larger business than the weapon business, and which serves as vector to it. This is the war business. War must always be created and prompted to feed the weapons trade. But wars can only be planned and triggered by heads of state, and for this reason, there are no more than a handful of actors in the world in this business of such a magnitude. This lifts another veil from the true face of some world leaders. They will use lies, false propaganda and their dishonest media to sell to their public opinion that they are bent on taking populations of other countries out of dictatorship and oppression, or sell the virtues of democracy, of their own style, and this is nothing but scam.

It is legitimate that we ask yourself what prompts heads of state to promote war. In asking this question, we touch on another taboo subject which is never mentioned, because of its excessively ruthless nature. It is the implacable reality that the prime mover of the weapons industry is dirty money and that the declared intention of heads of state of making the lives of people living under dictatorship better is nothing but scam. Who can pretend that heads of state buying weapons do not earn hefty kickbacks from the manufacturers?

People responsible for fabricating lies to justify war and using their media to spread false news are bent on managing their public opinion which must be taken care of, because it constitutes their vote banks for elections. Money is at the heart of war and involves the participation of massive credit providers who, to the outside world, operate normal financing businesses under reputable names in high street locations.

For the intention of those countries which buy lots of weapons but do not actually make war, manufacturers work on provoked obsolescence and are constantly researching weapons with higher sophistication to replace old ones. They rarely produce weapons which are markedly superior to the previous ones. They constantly produce arms which are only sensibly superior, to keep on selling as often as possible on the back of obsolescence being constantly provoked. It is an absolutely fine marketing technique, but used for criminal intentions and it continues to bring in money. There are two sides to the weapon business, one to revamp existing weapons and another to sell new ones, because the obsolescence of old ones has already been programmed at the very start.

The pharmaceutical industry

Although I am including this activity in the list of non-conventional businesses, it should have been, strictly speaking, not a business but an industry having the noblest of objectives, that of bringing relief to suffering human beings. But some of the players in this industry would better be termed ruthless businessmen if what we read on internet is true.

The internet is full of affirmations that research done on several deadly diseases reveal the existence of cure for cancer, diabetes, Ebola and others. Why this has not translated into the production of effective drugs available to doctors and patients to cure these diseases, inevitably leads to suspicion that this process is being delayed because it would mean the demise of drugs which address the symptoms of these diseases with the objective of curing symptoms but not the actual pathology.

If this is true, it would be the most immoral of businesses, which thrives on human suffering, which sells products on illusion and nothing else, and which exploits the emotion called hope and conservation instinct, for the sake of big money.

The English Premier League

This is the success story of a powerful business dictated by unfavourable circumstances, but which people with brains and acumen have turned into a money-making machine while providing football lovers with intense satisfaction at affordable cost.

Twenty-five years after England’s world cup sensational win in 1966, English football was at cross-roads, compelled either to change or to face extinction in the country which had invented the game. English football, which had dominated the world in 1966, thanks to a very gifted visionary called Sir Alf Ramsey, had lost its effectiveness, its inspiration and its skills in endeavouring to play an aggressive and a physically driven game.

Manufacturers work on provoked obsolescence and are constantly researching weapons with higher sophistication to replace old ones.

In May 1992, after discussions with football authorities, players and television broadcasters, English first division teams resigned from the Football League and formed the “Premier League.” The plan was to revamp English football and sell television rights. However, to sell a value for money product for TV broadcasting, the Premier League needed quality football with the required brilliance to make of it an appealing product capable of attracting TV broadcasters who sell advertising based on the strength of their audience in numbers. The problem was that English football did not have the raw materials (footballers with skill) to improve its offering. It artfully developed the vision of starting to import talent from overseas, namely from South America and other European countries to inject quality and style in its game.

English football rapidly developed a new style, making a blend of English aggressiveness and unfaltering physical effort, European scientific, disciplined and strategy-driven football, and South American natural skills and champagne style. Demand for television football grew rapidly, and TV rights became more expensive because the worldwide demand for satellite TV was increasing. Football tickets also became expensive and fans accepted this, as they were offered better entertainment. Football teams became much more affluent, fuelled by hefty sales of television rights TV to broadcasters.

Over and above TV rights, with the worldwide support given to English teams, granting them visibility at planetary level, the sale of branded football kits brought in huge amounts of money. Sales soared because other countries’ football celebrities had also become icons in their respective country while playing in England. This, in turn, gave rise to sponsorship money paid by companies trading in global markets to have access to advertising on football shirts and playing grounds.

Teams now had tremendous money and accentuated the acquisition of talented players wherever they were found. High wages and the possibility for players to sell sponsorship in their own personal rights attracted more and more talent from overseas.

Today, English clubs have their own academies for grooming young talent, and they recruit promising youths massively from new and less expensive countries, namely in Africa. The English football business has gone global and the Premier League is one of the most widely present multinationals in the world. The sad part of the story is that today English teams do not have more than 3 to 4 English players in their usual line up, but any success carries a price tag, and this was the price to pay. England has become a hub, where attractive football is played and exported the world over, via television. The Premier League brand is intelligently maintained, with the building of new stadia and constant surveillance on its quality, even at the cost of importing foreign coaches, with the risk that this can even modify the very DNA of English football.

This is an illustration of English entrepreneurship, especially when it comes to generating and managing finance. Even the United States cannot compete with this power of organization. Their league is in a lower category and only attracts good players at the end of their career. This is business created and rapidly turned global with little raw materials available locally, namely players and managerial expertise.

Faced with the difficult situation of not having talent in their English players, they have taken the battle on the grounds of entrepreneurship, organization, marketing and finance. They import raw materials, refine it, put it to use and let it evolve into an organized business generating huge money, all set up by English genius.

Now we understand better how “Britannia ruled the waves” decades ago. The story of the English Premier League is worthy of being the subject of a case study in business schools.

Mubarak Sooltangos
Mubarak Sooltangos ([email protected]) is a business trainer, a strategy and management consultant and author of Business Inside Out (2018) and World Crisis – The Only Way Out (2020).