During this episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Phil Harvey, chairperson of DKT International, a nonprofit family planning and A.I.D.S. prevention organization. Harvey is also a major shareholder of PHE Incorporated, the holding company for Adam & Eve, an online and mail-order company that sells products for a better sex life. In addition, he’s the founder of the DKT Liberty Project and an ardent libertarian. Even at his current age of 81-years-old, he still has a few goals left on his list. 

We talk about his early years starting a business and a nonprofit organization simultaneously, and how the charitable actions that come out of PHE are mostly individually based. Find out how DKT supplied contraceptive products to 44 million couples in the developing world last year, and why that matters in a global market. 

He explains why he believes competition is the heart of the capitalist society. He also shared the backstory on his legal battles for liberty that ended up costing around $2 million and the attacks that he faced due to sex-related product sales. And probably most important and impactful to me, is the story from his time in India that illustrates why integrity is so important to Harvey. 

On why he believes companies shouldn’t force themselves to appear to be charitable, Harvey says, “I am generally opposed to trying to turn a commercial corporation into some kind of brand for saving the world. I don’t think it is appropriate. It is a distraction and doesn’t work very well.”

Meanwhile, on the simplicity and scalability of social marketing, not to be confused with social media like Facebook and Twitter, Harvey explains “social marketing in this context means the use of commercial marketing techniques to achieve social ends.” Find out why Phil Harvey believes that advertising is blamed for various societal ills. However, he notes, “I don’t agree that marketing, particularly when you use that term, is a troublesome term in the nonprofit world.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • How is Phil different from the man he was in 1961? (02:30)
  • How has Phil used commerce to do good in the world? (05:56)
  • Why did he create a business and a nonprofit business at the same time? (13:01)
  • Phil explains the social marketing of DKT (26:14)
  • Did Phil face marketing resistance in the nonprofit space? (40:28)
  • What does Phil think about the state of business today? (52:05)
  • Phil discusses how many of his legal battles that have made it all the way to the supreme court. (55:00)
  • Where does this fighting spirit come from? (1:01:43)
  • Is he thinking about retirement anytime soon? (1:09:55)
  • Is there an experience in Phil Harvey’s life that defined who he is today? (1:11:39)
  • What fuels Phil to keep going in his career and life? (1:15:42)
  • Are there brands or causes that he thinks we should pay attention to? (1:17:21)
  • Where does Phil Harvey see the future of marketing going? (1:23:28)

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.