Personally, I think the idea of ‘social marketing’ is genius. As I understand, social marketing is defined as ‘the process that applies marketing principles and techniques to create, communicate, and deliver value in order to influence target audiences’ behaviors that benefit society as well as theirs.’ The concept evolved from commercial marketing, only that instead of monetary gain, social marketing aims for behavior change as result. It is applied to several social issues such as improving public health, promoting safety and security and protecting the environment.
I like the concept of ‘social marketing’ because it does not only encourage behavior change, but we can tailor the activities as fun and relevant, and are far simpler to conduct than capacity-building projects, M&E workshops, and other multi-sectoral development interventions that take years to see results, or lack thereof. ‘Social marketing’ strategies can also be a sub-activity of the mentioned interventions. What I see in ‘social marketing’ that separates it from other activities is its personal approach–it hits home.
My favorite example of ‘social marketing’ is Brushing Teeth vs A Particular Brand of Toothpaste. Instead of promoting the brand itself, the aim of social marketing is to encourage the habit of Brushing Teeth to keep a healthy well-being. TV commercials and radio spots do picture relevant scenes such as families, couples, and children to appeal to heart of consumers. But these companies are more concerned to profit than to see an actual change in behavior/practices of people. In commercial marketing, if they sell X number of products, good for their employees and the survival of their company. In ‘social marketing’, however, if we see a significant change of behavior and sustainability of desirable practices, it’s priceless.
Another example, cliche and overrated but to those who are suffering, there is nothing overrated about HIV/AIDS. I, personally, am an advocate of HIV/AIDS movement because as I see it, we can prevent the spread–if only we are responsible enough to follow practices in keeping our bodies protected–as well as the infant that could be conceived in the process. I am going to be really forward here, but I really don’t understand why some men refuse using condoms. They say they are allergic to latex blah blah, but if they can’t be responsible for their own body’s protection, how else can their partner trust them (no pun intended). This is also a question of a Religion-State-of-Mind. No offense to all devout Catholics who are anti-artificial-contraceptives but using condoms is not abortion; using such is preventing unplanned/unwanted pregnancies, not terminating it. Using condoms is can also protect ourselves from STDs.
Ultimately, ‘social marketing’ could also contribute to eliminate the stigma against individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Prejudices, judgment, discrimination do not only apply to different races and ethnicity, health is also affected by narrow-mindedness and misunderstanding states of being.
But this is where ‘social marketing’ comes in; presenting the reasons why one should opt the desirable practice over the other, and liberating minds in practices that are beneficial to an individual or community. The issue of prostitution, on the other hand, is a bigger issue caught in the vicious cycle of poverty. But to those who are, in fact, with access to contraceptives and are aware of highs and lows of sexual relationships–promiscuity, protected or unprotected, should always be thought-over. Again and again and again.
Some blog posts on HIV/AIDS: 1) http://colewalks.com/2010/12/01/tie-a-red-ribbon-today/ ;