Survey Recognizes Social Marketing as Critical Tool in Driving Social Change

Aug 16, 2011, 08:00 ET from Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Social marketing, the application of marketing and communications to support personal behavior and social change, is positioned to become an increasingly important tool for addressing global health and social issues, according to participants at the 2nd World Non-Profit and Social Marketing Conference (WSMC).

More than 600 marketers, communications experts and researchers from 40 countries convened at the Conference in Dublin, Ireland.  In a survey conducted among Conference participants—including representatives of leading corporations, civic organizations, academic institutions, governmental entities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—"84 percent of respondents indicate they believe that social marketing is at a critical turning point in driving social change."

"The survey findings demonstrate that social marketing is increasingly recognized and applied as a proven approach for public and private sector organizations to apply in helping to improve social ills," concluded Jeff French, Ph.D., the WSMC Chair.  

"But, as 88 percent of those surveyed concluded, social marketers need to do a better job of marketing the practice of social marketing for its promise to be realized," observed Tom Beall, Global Managing Director of Ogilvy's Social Marketing Practice.

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, in collaboration with The Conference People, conducted the survey to examine trends, issues, and priorities for the future.  Additional results are highlighted below.

Success Stories Lay the Foundation for Effective Social Marketing Initiatives
Over the last 40 years, social marketing has become an increasingly widely-utilized approach to propel awareness and behavior change-focused initiatives, campaigns, and programs around the world.  Almost one-third of respondents (31%) feel that social marketing is widely used in their country to drive social and behavior change and an additional 53 percent report that it is somewhat widely used.  

When asked to identify the areas in which social marketing has the most influence, respondents named:

  • Tobacco prevention/cessation (64%)
  • Global health epidemics (HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis, Cholera) (40%)
  • Transportation and traffic safety (38%)
  • Substance and alcohol abuse, prevention, cessation and recovery (36%)
  • Chronic illness (cancer, diabetes, heart disease) environmental (36%)
  • Environmental stewardship/sustainability (34%)
  • Obesity (32%)

Obesity and Chronic Illness Top Areas of Greatest Emerging Need for Social Marketing Interventions
Looking ahead, respondents identified areas in which they felt that social marketing was most needed to drive future awareness and behavior change.  Obesity, chronic illness and environmental stewardship led the list of emerging priorities:

  • Obesity (54%)
  • Chronic Illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease (51%)
  • Environmental stewardship/sustainability (50%)
  • Substance and alcohol abuse prevention, cessation and recovery (43%)
  • Global health epidemic and poverty (39%)
  • Violence prevention (37%)

Interpersonal Interventions Key to Social Marketing Success
Although interpersonal interventions are identified by respondents as the most effective social marketing tool, they observed that "keys to success" for social marketing interventions include:

  • Community-based initiatives and engagement (54%)
  • Peer groups, including online groups and networks (51%)
  • Word of mouth (46%)
  • Digital influence (e.g., online, social networks, mobile) (41%)
  • Collaboration across organizations (38%)
  • Audience collaboration on content and advocacy (35%)

What Defines the Emerging Era of Social Marketing?
As social marketers look at the future of social marketing, widespread application of social marketing beyond a traditional focus on public health to issues such as sustainability and economic development are at the top of the list of what respondents say will define the emerging, new era of social marketing (44%). Respondents also suggest that while social media is emerging as a social marketing game changer (88%), traditional engagement through peer groups and community-based initiatives will remain vitally important (37%).  They also strongly believe that collaboration among public and private sector partners, including corporations, are essential to achieving greater success in support of social change (93%).

"We remain encouraged by the impact that social marketing will continue to have in changing behaviors around the world," said Win Morgan, President and CEO of the International Social Marketing Association.  "We applaud Ogilvy and The Conference People for helping to shed light on the importance of social marketing as a tool to positively affect global health and social issues."  

About the Survey
Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, in collaboration with The Conference People, WSMC organizer, sought to better understand trends, issues and opportunities within the field of social marketing internationally. A global online survey was conducted by Greenfield Online/Toluna March 15-30, 2011, among social marketing professionals registered to attend the WSMC in April 2011. At 95 percent confidence, the study has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.9% for the total sample of 280 respondents.

To receive a copy of the full survey results, please contact Cara Perellis at or call 202-729-4000.

About Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide
Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide (Ogilvy PR) is a global, multidisciplinary communications leader operating in more than 80 markets. For more than two decades, Ogilvy PR has been at the forefront of social marketing—advancing personal and public health and safety and broader socially desirable goals via communications initiatives. We have developed numerous social marketing campaigns to successfully raise awareness, educate and prompt action regarding some of today's largest and most complex issues, ranging from cancer to cardiovascular health, substance abuse to homeland security, youth violence prevention to disaster preparedness, and much more. Named Large Agency of the Year by The Holmes Report and PRNews, Ogilvy PR is a unit of Ogilvy & Mather, a WPP company (NASDAQ: WPPGY), one of the world's largest communications services groups.

About The Conference People The Conference People are a full service, global event management company. As well as offering a free worldwide venue finding service, The Conference People provide full event production, administration and live event management services (

The Conference People own, manage and produce the World Social Marketing Conference. The next World event will take place in Toronto, Canada, April 21-23, 2013 (

SOURCE Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide