Speaking Out About Malt

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Speaking Out about Malt
Case 8.3
Page 404-405, Moral Issues in Business

The case of Whitewater Brewing and Mary Davis touches upon several views and moral issues that are not specifically black or white. Case 8.3 specifically deals with a business called Whitewater Brewing Co. Whitewater Brewing, as its name sounds, is a manufacturer of alcoholic refreshments, selling its brands to various consumers. The article in particular focuses upon a specific Whitewater product, Rafter. Rafter is being targeted to match other similar products that are bottled in a 40 ounce size. The unfortunate part is that these 40 ounce size refreshments are not only popular with inner-city teenagers but in the area where Whitewater sells these 40 ounce products there is already a community alcohol related problem. Whitewater is not in foreign territory, numerous other companies already have sold similar products in the same area targeting the same clientele. More importantly due to its popularity this product produces good revenue for Whitewater.

Enter into this scenario an employee of Whitewater Brewing Co., Mary Davis, an Associate Vice President. Mary has decided to further her education and is attending a course at an outside school, with her husband who was pursuing his MBA.

My intention is to try to determine whether or not Mary or Whitewater were following any ethical practices, determine why they made the choices they did, and to attempt to determine if there is any validity to their reasoning.

Mary begins working on a term project studying the making of wine and beer. Research shows Mary that several companies’ market products that are high alcohol based and sold at a very low price point, and not considered a premium product, strictly to satisfy a specific market niche. As Mary’s investigations continue she begins to insert her own feelings and viewpoints into her findings and her paper become a reflection of her personal viewpoints, and not necessarily those of her employer.

For the opposite side of the case Whitewater Brewing is basically working like it should; trying to maximize profits for its shareholders marketing products to satisfy consumer needs. In this case, that need is a malt liquor sold in 40 ounce containers and targeted to specific customers. This is nothing new, as other businesses are already in this market. The one caveat here is that none of the companies markets their malt liquors under their name; almost to distance themselves from the negative social implications resulting from the sales of malt liquors, specifically to this target audience.

Separately and apart neither Mary Davis or Whitewater marketing products would have been a “Case 6.3” were it not for the fact Mary Davis IS an employee of Whitewater. More so it never would have bubbled to the surface had Mary Davis done what she did; which was to ultimately write an article for a paper discussing her personal views on malt liquors wherein she states, again her views, as to the social responsibilities of businesses that produce malt liquors. In stating her personal opinions Mary now has pitted herself again the views of the business. Because Mary’s article is viewed negatively by Whitewater, the CEO of Whitewater fears the article will have a negative impact to profits and to the product(s) they sell. They also feel this could lead to legislation that would ultimately result is direct product loss and loss of revenue. These would be fairly legitimate concerns for any business, in my opinion. So if a socially responsible company produces bad products are they bad? One can argue especially in the case of liquor manufacturers that there is heavy investment to provide a product that is intended for good use and that they aggressively help to pass legislation helping to address those who use their products in a negative manner. So morally and ethically Whitewater, in my opinion, is doing what they are intended to do. Specifically they are...
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