Hastings G & Angus K (2011) When is social marketing not social marketing?. Journal of Social Marketing, 1 (1), pp. 45-53. https://doi.org/10.1108/20426761111104428
Purpose – The paper aims to discuss the thorny issues of industry-funded social marketing campaigns. Can the tobacco industry be trusted to educate our children about the dangers of smoking? Is a brewer the best source of health promotion? The paper argues for transparency and critical appraisal.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper looks at the issues of tobacco and alcohol in more detail, emphasises the need for caution and suggests guidelines for future practice.
Findings – The fiduciary duty of the corporation means that all its efforts – including any social marketing campaigns or corporate social responsibility – must be focused first and foremost on the success of the business and the enhancement of shareholder value; any wider public health benefits will inevitably be subjugated to this core purpose. And there is good evidence to show that the principal beneficiaries of apparently public-spirited campaigns run by tobacco and alcohol companies are the sponsors. In the hands of a corporation, then, social marketing will always transmute into commercial marketing.
Practical implications – We should then proceed with our eyes wide open, alert to the danger of counterproductive outcomes, armed with independent evaluation and in the full knowledge that wherever industry-funded efforts to educate the public replace those run by objective third parties, harm will be done.
Originality/value – The paper, concerned with industry-sponsored social marketing, broadens the discussion beyond communications. It shows that it is necessary to consider the whole marketing mix, not simply advertising, when discussing social marketing.
marketing; tobacco; corporate social responsibility; alcohol; advertising; public health
Journal of Social Marketing: Volume 1, Issue 1