Publication Details

Noble, G. I. & Camit, M. (2005). Social marketing communication in a multicultural environment: practical issues and theoretical contributions from cross-cultural marketing. Prism, 3 (2), 1-13.


Social marketing communication (social marcom) campaign production can be more challenging when the audience includes individuals from ‘culturally and linguistically diverse’ (CALD) communities. Additional issues such as culturally related values, practices, and attitudes need consideration. Normally, social marcoms campaigns for CALD audiences involve directly translating mainstream campaign material into various ethnic groups’ languages. However, little is understood about the issues beyond translation that confront practitioners adapting mainstream campaigns.

This article presents a case study analysis of work undertaken by the New South Wales Multicultural Health Communication Service (MHCS). The Service’s core activity is adaptation of social marcoms campaigns for use with CALD audiences. Data for the case was collected from staff, MHCS clients, and members of target audiences. Four key issues emerge as significant in the process of adapting social marcoms campaigns at MHCS. These are: segmenting and identifying the target audience; adapting message content; source credibility; and integrating the adapted campaign with its mainstream counterpart.

To provide theoretical insights and strategies to address these issues this article draws on cross-cultural marketing theory. For example, the theory of acculturation is used to provide an alternative to current segmentation practices. In the same vein, theories associated with the application of cultural typologies are used to explain why the practice of adaptation is not always successful. The article concludes by considering the implications of this study for further research.

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