One of the underlying principles of social norms marketing is expressed by PIE: messages should be Positive, Inclusive and Empowering. A study of social marketing to “…minimise the harm from alcohol consumption” suggests that many social marketing approaches may be patronizing rather than empowering.
What messages does social marketing advertising send? A content analysis of advertisements aiming to minimise harm from alcohol consumption
While excess alcohol consumption remains one of the most pressing problems for government and society in many countries, the role of social marketing as a tool for shaping a responsible alcohol consumption culture has grown in significance. This research focuses specifically on the communication aspect of social marketing in the form of social marketing advertising. This study seeks to explore what types of approaches and messages are most prevalent in social marketing advertising campaigns that aim to minimise harm from excess alcohol consumption. This study applies the content analysis method to identify the main themes and messages in a sample of social marketing advertisements. A total of 14 social marketing advertising campaigns, including 29 advertisements, was identified. The analytical framework for this research included both positive and negative consequences of alcohol consumption, and two main social marketing advertising approaches identified in the literature: empowering and patronising. This study found that the patronising approach and a strong focus on the negative consequences of alcohol consumption are prevalent in contemporary social marketing campaigns aimed at minimising harmful drinking behaviours. Social marketing too often takes a patronising approach to encouraging behavioural change. More social marketing efforts should be directed towards identifying how to facilitate and support behaviour change through empowerment by providing consumers with alternative behavioural options.
Zharekhina, L., & Kubacki, K. (2015). What messages does social marketing advertising send? A content analysis of advertisements aiming to minimise harm from alcohol consumption. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing.