CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Thomas & Diamantis on Marketing Corporate Prosecutions

W. Robert (Will) Thomas and Mihailis Diamantis (University of Michigan Ross School of Business and University of Iowa - College of Law) have posted Why Corporate Prosecutors Need Better Marketing Chops on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Can you name 10 corporate criminals? Bernie Madoff, Martha Steward, and Jeff Skilling don’t count – they are individuals, not businesses. How about just five? Three? It’s surprising the task should be so difficult. Corporate crime inflicts upwards of 20 times more economic damage each year than all street crime. Brand-name corporations find themselves on the wrong side of the law for everything from accounting fraud to homicide to narcotics dealing. Yet many people, including most law students and even some law professors, don’t even know that corporate criminal law exists.

In a forthcoming paper, we argue that widespread ignorance about corporate crime and corporate criminals reflects a systemic problem for business law, as well as a missed opportunity. Corporate criminal enforcement needs a marketing makeover. When prosecutors and agencies ignore basic marketing principles, they undermine the deterrent impact of the public, expressive act inherent in corporate criminal enforcement. These failures of communication undermine the most basic moral and preventive aspirations of corporate criminal law. This is an unforced error that some creative thinking and attention to marketing basics could begin to remedy right now, without even requiring much additional expense.

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