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Journal cover: Journal of Social Marketing

Journal of Social Marketing

ISSN: 2042-6763

Online from: 2010

Subject Area: Marketing

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When is social marketing not social marketing?

Document Information:
Title:When is social marketing not social marketing?
Author(s):Gerard Hastings, (Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK), Kathryn Angus, (Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK)
Citation:Gerard Hastings, Kathryn Angus, (2011) "When is social marketing not social marketing?", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 1 Iss: 1, pp.45 - 53
Keywords:Advertising, Alcoholic drinks, Corporate social responsibility, Public health, Social marketing, Tobacco
Article type:Viewpoint
DOI:10.1108/20426761111104428 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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.

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