The applicability of commercial advertising theory to social marketing: Two case studies of current Australian social marketing campaigns
This article argues that recent advances in advertising theory developed in the commercial business context can be transferred effectively to the design of social marketing (specifically advertising) campaigns. It evaluates two current Australian campaigns, targeting teenagers' use of illicit drugs and teenagers' irresponsible use of alcohol. The two campaigns provide impressive evidence that advanced theory and concepts from commercial advertising can be applied effectively to social marketing. Social marketing campaigns should use what is known about branding, targeting, positioning, and media to sell good behaviors in the public interest. As illustrated by the case histories in this article, the following advanced procedures can be successfully applied in social marketing campaigns: 1) Conceptualizing the "good behavior" as a "brand" that is to be promoted just as a commercial brand of product is promoted. 2) Targeting of the participants in the decision, not in broad demographic terms, but as "role players" in the decision (initiators, influencers, deciders, purchasers, users). 3) Developing, before the creative work is commissioned, a clear "positioning statement" for the brand and specific communication objectives for the campaign. 4) Use of "creative execution tactics" appropriate to the way in which the brand is chosen (both these campaigns employ high involvement, informational tactics - not overclaiming or inadvertently underclaiming, and in emotionally authentic situations using believable models in the ads). 5) Media planning on the basis of the right "reach pattern" and "minimum effective frequency" for the advertising cycles, rather than scattered expenditure of the campaign budget.