The Mary Kay Harvard Hoax: Another Commonly-Used Propaganda Technique In The Pink Pyramid

HarvardOne of the many deceptive recruiting tactics used by Mary Kay Cosmetics and its predatory sales force is the myth that Mary Kay Cosmetics’ marketing plan is “taught” at the Harvard School of Business.

As in the document below, the common refrain is often expressed in the most exuberant of tones:

Our marketing Plan (Selected the #1 Marketing Plan by Harvard School of Business)

This claim made by Mary Kay’s sales force is used so often that even those who use it (and those who it is used on) accept it as truth. Very often, the “Harvard” tale is told to unsuspecting recruits and their significant others to convince them that, if Mary Kay’s marketing plan is taught at Harvard, it must be (by inference) good.

The tactic is effective as it utilizes a Propaganda Technique called Proof by Assertion:

Assertion is commonly used in advertising and modern propaganda. An assertion is an enthusiastic or energetic statement presented as a fact, although it is not necessarily true. They often imply that the statement requires no explanation or back up, but that it should merely be accepted without question. Examples of assertion, although somewhat scarce in wartime propaganda, can be found often in modern advertising propaganda. Any time an advertiser states that their product is the best without providing evidence for this, they are using an assertion. The subject, ideally, should simply agree to the statement without searching for additional information or reasoning. Assertions, although usually simple to spot, are often dangerous forms of propaganda because they often include falsehoods or lies. [Emphasis added.]

The problem with the assertion that Mary Kay Cosmetics’ marketing plan is taught at Harvard’s Business School is that it does not appear to be true.

As the website Pink Truth states:

Harvard Business School has published case studies on a variety of businesses, including Mary Kay, but that does NOT mean that MK is “taught” or “studied” at Harvard. The particular business plan in question focused on the prizes offered by Mary Kay, and how effective they are at encouraging consultants and directors to buy more. [Emphasis added.]

A case study is defined as:

A case study is an inquiry into an event by either an individual or an organization. It is produced through systematic research, analysis and reporting. Case studies cite professional or scientific sources and they are often used in developing new procedures in marketing, medicine and technology. They are designed to ask the questions “how” and “why” of an event, procedure or phenomena. [Emphasis added.]

Case studies are different than a particular subject being “taught.” This difference is something that most Mary Kaybots leave out of their sales pitch when they imply (or flat out state) that Harvard’s School of Business “teaches” Mary Kay’s marketing plan.

In 1990 (and revised in 1999), Mary Kay’s sales force incentive plans were, in fact, studied–again, not taught, as is so commonly told to uninquisitive subjects. Here is the relevant statements from the case study’s abstract:

Describes the incentive system by which Mary Kay Cosmetics motivates the sales force of 200,000 independent agents who comprise the firm’s only distribution channel. Illustrates the powerful effect on sales-force behavior that results when creative types of employee recognition are combined with financial incentives. Focuses on the challenges that managers face when they try to reduce program costs by modifying the VIP automobile program that awards the use of pink Cadillacs and other cars to successful sales agents. A detailed description of the parameters and formulas that drive the recognition and reward programs is provided.

In fact, there are a number of case studies on Mary Kay Cosmetics and other multi-level companies listed by the Harvard Business Review.

All of them, however, are presented as case studies, not courses–which makes the “Mary Kay is taught at Harvard” nothing more than an urban legend perpetuated by Mary Kay’s sales force using the Propaganda Technique of Assertion.

The Mary Kay Marketing Plan by MaryKayVictims

Related: Propaganda Techniques & Other Manipulative Tactics in Mary Kay Cosmetics

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