At a Social Marketing in Public Health
conference 10 years ago, I did a session on Putting the ‘Social’ Back Into Social Marketing.
I was concerned that social marketing theory and practice were being turned
into another approach to individual behavior change. Indeed, despite early
calls for social marketing to be concerned with social and population-based change
by Kotler & Zaltman (1971-pdf), Lefebvre & Flora (1988-pdf) and Walsh, Rudd, Moeykens
& Moloney (1993-pdf), many definitions of social marketing that emerged over the
next two decades promoted a variation of the theme ‘individual behavior change
for the common good’ (cf, Andreasen, 1995; Kotler & Lee, 2008; Siegel &
Lotenberg, 2007). My session looked at how models of community asset
development, political economics and social and anthropological theories provided
us with a richer understanding of the social dynamics underlying health and how
these approaches could improve the development of social marketing programs.
That many so-called social marketing programs then (and now) were little more
than persuasive messages delivered as ‘health communication’ is a testimony to
the power of theory, and the lack of it, to constrain and limit our
More recently, Gerard Hastings (2007) has embraced the
notion of social marketing as a way to enhance social goals and also to analyze
the social consequences of marketing policies, decisions and activities. Similarly,
Donovan & Henley (2003) take issue with the prevailing individually-focused
definitions and call for a focus on social determinants seeing ‘the primary
future goal of social marketing as achieving changes in these social
determinants of health and well-being’ (p. 6). For the next few days, I am
going to explore how to incorporate more social perspectives into social
marketing. The social models I believe are important to the vibrancy and success of social marketing include social
diffusion, social networks, social determinants, social capital, building
communities and social franchising. In the end will look to how social
marketing can become an important lever in the arena of social policy
development and implementation – although if you can’t wait, you can always go
to this earlier post I did on the subject.
Feel free to jump in at any time.
Andreasen, A.R. (1995) Marketing Social Change: Changing
Behavior to Promote Health, Social Development, and the Environment. San
Donovan, R. and Henley, N. (2003) Social Marketing:
Principles & Practice. Melbourne, Australia: IP Communications.
Hastings, G. (2007) Social Marketing: Why Should the Devil
Have All the Best Tunes? Oxford, England: Elsevier.
Kotler, P. and Lee, N.R. (2008) Social Marketing:
Influencing Behaviors for Good (3rd Ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Kotler, P. and Zaltman, G. (1971) Social marketing: An
approach to planned social change. Journal of Marketing, 35:3-12.
Lefebvre,R.C. and Flora, J.A. (1988) Social marketing and public health intervention. Health Education Quarterly, 15:299–315.
Siegel, M. and Lotenberg, L.D. (2007) Marketing Public
Health: Strategies to Promote Social Change (2nd Ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and
Walsh, D.C., Rudd, R.E., Moeykens, B.A. and Moloney, T.W. (1993). Social marketing for public health. Health Affairs, 12:104-119.