Posts con el tag ‘Social Marketing’

Little did I know…

The end of the academic year is a good time to look back on the impact we’ve had on our students. How have they experienced the impact of marketing on society? What have they learned? Theories, paradigms,….?

But forget all that! Instead, I’d like to use the STUDENT SERIES format to see what insights the students will share and what our true impact has been. This year, I’ve been truly fascinated by the story of Carmen Friedinger: age 22, coming from the Vienna University of Economics and Business for a semester abroad at ESADE, and seeking a career in marketing. If you can’t enrol in my subject, don’t worry: here’s an exciting trailer, brought to you by another student.

“I could start this blog post by pretending that it was my vast interest in the topic of social marketing that made me choose this class. But I think it will be more interesting to read the truth, so here you go: the main reason I decided to take this class was because of the great reviews some students from my home university in Vienna gave the professor, and the fact that they said how fun and easy it was to come up with a plan for collaboration between an NGO and Spanish companies. Little did I know! Truth be told – it did not actually turn out to be so easy for my group and me. Of course, the professor and the guest speakers were all very helpful and open to answering any of our questions and doubts – of which we had many! However, instead of just “finding a company to collaborate with and making a nice and easy project” we ended up spending hours and hours of discussion and careful consideration together. We found it very hard to come up with a plan for how to tell an NGO that seems so confident in its own appearance that what they need most of all is awareness of the hospital itself before they can properly promote their organisation and raise funds. We used our briefings with the guest speakers and the professor to figure out a way to let the NGO know that their image is not as great as they think it is – but without insulting them, as our goal was to win them over. BUT: instead of getting a clearer view of how to solve this problem, every one of them told us their personal opinion, which differed greatly from each other, making it harder for us to find a way to fulfil all their requirements. This point right here is what made this class a real challenge for us, and I think it is also what helped me most to improve my consulting skills, because in real life you will face similar situations. Moreover, as the class was taught in Spanish and our team was made up of students from all different universities (ESADE, Austin, Indiana, Paris and Vienna) it was very interesting to see how differently we all approached this project. Of course, the language barrier led to a couple funny moments, too. Overall, I think this class taught me a lot about how consulting projects take place in real life and how to overcome the hurdles of being in a very diverse project team.”

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Social marketing craftsmen: 2015 ESADE vintage

This year, I am once again proud to present two projects that our students are developing alongside faculty members according to the problem-based service learning methodology. Year after year, this is one of our best teaching experiences –the sort of project that, in the words of the professors, “gives meaning to our work, experience and dedication”.

-          The ACIDH group is working with an NGO focused on persons with limited intelligence (PLI) with the marketing objective of increasing their online presence.

-          The blood bank group is once again fighting to increase blood donations on our campus, in terms of both total donations and first-time donors. Great claim (“product costs nothing, but worth everything”), great video

Both projects are developed in a way that allows students to reach their own conclusions about whether marketing is a way to address social problems. And they decide what kind of impact they want to have in their professional career (to quote Seth Godin, “the impact comes from the craftsman, not the tool”).

So far, they have convinced various marketing professors to join the cause – which is easier than an ice bucket challenge.

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Messi vs. Cristiano: best poll ever

Persuasion vs. manipulation has been a hot topic in marketing for years. Persuasion is understood as a process that uses written or spoken words to change a person’s attitude or behaviour toward some event, idea, object or other person(s). Manipulation is understood as skilfully managing or influencing people, especially in an unfair manner. Between the two concepts lies a thin red line, which authors like Martin Lindstrom have used to produce bestsellers like Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds.

Our team at ESADE works with a different idea – market orientation – which involves organisations that make changes in products or services for particular purposes, both commercial and social. In essence, the idea is to serve the motto of George R.R. Martin: “When you know what a man wants you know who he is, and how to move him.” Let’s manipulate our solution to make it more attractive.

Hubbub is an organisation with no definitions or mottos: they just like good challenges. When they saw that traditional wellness programmes weren’t working, they challenged themselves to create a better solution. So they manipulated a bid to reduce litter on the streets of London: residents were encouraged to throw their cigarette butts into a special kind of bin – a fascinating and cleverly manipulated bin. Cigarette smokers outside Embankment station can use the new cigarette butt boxes to cast their vote on who they think is the world’s best football player: Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.

This is a fun theory approach used in social marketing. More examples: the Peppermint Pointillist displays, also in central London. In this case, Hubbub had to solve a sticky issue: the average piece of chewing gum costs 3p to buy and £1.50 to remove. So a solution was
manipulated: stick your gum on a ‘x’ to reveal an image or fact.

I love these guys: manipulating objects for social good.

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Breast is best: marketing vs. marketing


“Marketing is all we see,” grumbled Keith Jarrett a few years ago in a masterly way. But marketing is also a technology employed by those who wish to achieve sales, exchanges or social goods, or all three at once, as defined by George G. Brenkert.

Breastfeeding has enjoyed all of these wishes. There’s no doubt that breast is best: breast milk is the gold standard for infant nutrition. It reduces rates of infectious diseases, sudden infant death syndrome, various chronic and non-infectious illnesses, and post-neonatal infant death. Nursing mothers also obtain considerable postpartum and long-term health benefits. American experts estimate that at least $4 billion could be saved each year in overall healthcare and indirect costs if at least 75% of mothers start breastfeeding and 50% breastfeed for at least 6 months. How could anyone beat such a great set of competitive advantages?

The baby formula industry did, through marketing. The first baby formula television commercial aired in 1989, targeting consumers directly. Brands give hospitals free or discounted products and encourage health workers to recommend their products. Product innovations include anti-gas bottles and nipples of every shape and size – some even with tattoos of Mickey Mouse. Supermarkets use data-mining techniques to send motherhood-related marketing materials to teenagers before their parents even know they are pregnant. Samples, coupons and membership in discount formula clubs are offered to the expectant mother as soon as she walks into a maternity store. The final effect of all this in Spain: 76% of new mothers are breastfeeding when they leave the hospital, but only 44% continue to do so after three months (compared with 90% and 63% in Austria). In marketing terms, that’s a great result. So let’s come back to marketing.

What does the social marketing process look like? Government supports research focused on the health benefits of breastfeeding. An official “baby-friendly” brand is developed to signal that a hospital supports breastfeeding through real policies: babies can remain in the room with their mothers, skin-to-skin contact between newborns and mothers is encouraged, etc. Aggressive advocacy positioning is toned down to avoid turning off some mothers. Claims of “you must and you will” are avoided; instead, mothers are supported with the message of “do as much as you can”. Campaigns target all kinds of stakeholders: family, friends, healthcare providers, etc. Breastfeeding is positioned as being better for all involved, less expensive, but requiring tons of stamina, time and indefatigable conviction.

“Marketing is all we see” – no doubt!

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A bunch of slacktivism, neknominations and ice buckets

The Ice Bucket Challenge has generated, in addition to more than ten million dollars in funding in the US and nearly 10 million uploads to YouTube, accolades such as that pronounced by Wharton, describing it as a phenomenal marketing campaign.

The project, which was launched when Pete Frates challenged his friends, has given rise to various readings, regarding social network marketing, social marketing and third sector management. It has also generated the usual ethical criticism of the limits to NGO fundraising: the participants don’t learn anything about the cause, they participate for essentially selfish reasons dressed up as altruism, and they do it to look good for their friends. It’s just slacktivism, a feel-good way to support a cause whose only positive effects are on the participants themselves. Welcome to the world of real people.

The Ice Bucket Challenge reminds us how to create value based on insights into people. People like simplicity (all they need is a mobile phone and a friend to film them). They use social media to amplify their narcissism. They want to do good if it makes them feel good, if it’s cool. People are motivated by and participate in activities like milking and neknomination. We climb on board the latest meme so long as it can be personalized, so long as it doesn’t require us to sacrifice our own identity, but rather lets us project it instead. Fun, easy, popular.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is not a sustainable fundraising strategy for the third sector: no organization can survive on sporadic viral online campaigns. However, the market-oriented approach is sustainable: creating value for people, offering activities that create value for them, accepting the mediocrity of human nature, so long as whatever we do is in keeping with our organization’s vision and values.

There are three approaches to the Ice Bucket Challenge: criticize people for disguising their narcissism as altruism, design promotions willing to “take the money wherever it comes from”, or learn about insights into people to increase the value our cause can create. Which one do you choose?

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Updating Obama’s Political Marketing

Elections to the European Parliament were held in Spain this week, and one “true winner” has emerged: Podemos. The mass media scorn this party, calling it by the most pejorative of names: a marketing operation, a media soufflé. The party’s leader, Pablo Iglesias, has predicted that Podemos “will be studied in university-level political science courses”. Allow me to weigh in on the social marketing angle.

Let us summarise the marketing-textbook reasons for the success of Podemos.

-          It has a successful specialisation strategy. Its segmentation is based on a concentrated strategy: young, educated “digital natives” who despise the right and are disillusioned with traditional political parties. It has positioned itself in terms of difference (it’s just four months old!) by dramatising in the media its antagonism towards Rubalcaba, Intereconomía and the right.

-          It has a coherent action portfolio. Its “sloganish” name is a nod to Obama. Its communication is focused on social media. It is an innovator in ambush marketing: it attacks right-wing television channels until they bite and invite them on the air, first to ridicule them and only later to offer a rebuttal. Its world-weary leader, a professor of political science, has been operating an online television channel for three years. His simple, emotional discourse steers clear of intellectualism and avoids alienating the mainstream culture. All this is mixed with simple messages: I won’t travel in business class; while on the campaign trail, I will eat for less than €10/day thanks to a crowdfunding campaign.

Podemos has been especially successful among young and middle-aged people. The mainstream parties dream of courting these segments, but they don’t even know how to get their attention. Pablo Iglesias has managed to do just this: he combines Gramsci’s concept of cultural hegemony with the emotion of the “homeland” concept, deployed judiciously; he accepts television as the medium and manages to get free, debate-heavy access, plus subsequent views on YouTube; he defines his leadership as a political communication device and plasters his face all over the party’s ballots.

In the five days since the elections, the other parties have been frantically throwing together talking points about Pablo Iglesias: he’s a marketing operation, he’s a populist disaster, he’s a freak. As our invited lecturer Toni Puig (who you really ought to hear speak) once said: the best marketing defines its strategy on the basis of strong values. Any values.

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Bananas speak louder than words

A round of applause for Alves and Neymar’s #WeAreAllMonkeys! This excellent social marketing campaign has achieved incredible quantitative results, as well as criticism from the usual anti-marketing quarters. Let’s take a closer look, now that the criticism has started to drown out the praise.

Barça football player Dani Alves has continually been the target of racist insults, monkey noises from the stands, and bananas launched onto the field during breaks in play. Throughout his 11 years playing in Spain, Alves has been calling for greater awareness and measures against racism.

Actions speak louder than words: During a match on 27th April, Alves picked up a banana that had fallen at his feet and took a bite. His friend and teammate Neymar subsequently launched the hashtag #WeAreAllMonkeys. The quantitative results on the Internet speak for themselves. Let us add our qualitative analysis:

-       Criticism: It’s not original – Pa Dembo Touray ate a banana during a match 10 years ago. Solidarity is not the same as fixing the problem, and awareness is not enough. (These critiques are heard in the non-profit and public sectors, which firmly believe that marketing is negative and trust only their brainy public policies.) The hashtag is wrong – it should say #weareallhumans. And the worst: It’s not spontaneous; there’s an advertising agency behind this; it’s a professional job.

-       My professional recognition. These two professional football players are not just mindless poster boys. They decided to act when no one else would. (Two years ago, the Spanish football federation chief declared that “racism does not exist in Spain”.) Theirs is a simple campaign that has been professionalised (by Loducca Publicidade) to ensure excellence: the simple gesture of eating a banana is the essence of a global viral phenomenon. And what’s more, it works.

Studies show that young people see racism as a stigma on a par with suicide or drugs. They conclude that no adult is willing to intervene. And they dream of global multimedia campaigns in the popular media featuring the testimony of bystanders. We happily overlook the Samsung product placement in selfies posted by celebrities, but if Neymar hires an advertising agency, it strikes us as pre-planned. Neymar and Alves are bystanders who knew how to kick-start a social media campaign.

Have you done anything this big or this useful?

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Invisible maladies: disease, illness and sickness

“Society pays a lot of attention to neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, and other diseases that can easily capture an audience’s interest. Other devastating diseases are victims of invisibility, like tuberculosis, the Cinderella of marketing,” wrote Imma Monsó in La Vanguardia. Or as the great Keith Jarrett once said, “Everything is marketing.”

The stakeholders surrounding a particular disease need to understand that diseases must be marketed in order to secure resources, to get patients to follow treatment, and to raise awareness about prevention.

We recently conducted a study to find out which diseases spark the greatest interest among Spaniards: in first place was cancer, followed by AIDS, leprosy, Alzheimer’s disease and anorexia. Let’s compare these results with the list of the most common diseases: in first place, obesity, followed by anorexia, cancer, asthma and AIDS. The public’s level of scientific literacy is low, but we must remember that understanding follows motivation. Only when people believe they can get something out of knowledge will they make an effort to acquire it.

Gaining knowledge about health essentially depends on the media – that “old goat”, in Norman Mailer’s metaphor, that eats tidbits, gristle and garbage cans but eventually expels stories that seduce readers. The media know how to emphasise the patient’s human side, and in so doing they achieve an applied understanding of the difference between disease (that which doctors detect and treat), illness (the subjective experience of health changes and their consequences), and sickness (the “sick role” played by the afflicted individual).

People’s beliefs are the main factors that determine their health-related behaviour. Healthcare and social-marketing professionals should therefore aim to bring invisible diseases out of the shadows – even if it means mounting endless telethons.


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Crown marketing: corporate branding or proselytism?

On unveiling its new marketing project, the Spanish Royal Household took pains to stress that it was, in fact, marketing, and not proselytism. What’s the difference?

Balmer has conducted studies on the monarchies of Great Britain and Sweden, focusing on the concept of ‘corporate brand’. He concludes that the ‘royal branding mix’ involves building a corporate brand identity around five attributes: royal, regal, relevant, responsive and respected.

However, the Spanish monarchy is a unique case that has nothing to do with Balmer’s results. The Spanish Royal Household recently presented a new three-year marketing plan oriented towards children. Here are the main steps they have taken:

-          Market research prompted them to adopt a segmentation strategy focused on children between the ages of 9 and 12 who are unfamiliar with the Royal Household. They avoided the segment with the most negative vision of the monarchy (ages 18 to 22), and E.Life specific studies revealing the public’s feelings about the Royal Household (negative in 58% of cases).

-          They had a former Disney animator create a specific website for children as an addition to the Royal Household’s main website. Spanish teachers will be encouraged to use the site to correct the educational deficiencies that have led to the present situation. The site offers as value creation for the stakeholder teachers photos and videos of the royal family, as well as printable drawings and cut-outs.

-          The Royal Household spokesman reiterated that the project is not proselytism or an attempt to sway public opinion. It is a belief shared by companies in many sectors: if we educate and inform – if we simply show reality – then we’ve already created enough value to dodge the competition (republicans, anarchists and the disillusioned). It’s the same logic that the King of Spain used after his African hunting trip was brought to light: “I’m sorry, I made a mistake, and it won’t happen again.”

Marketing knows how to listen, how to identify motivations and barriers, and how to modify its solutions in order to create more value for users. A principle neglected when the spokesman mentioned a reply given by one boy when asked what the king and queen do: “They don’t do anything, because they’re the king and queen.”


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The greatest market failure

The greatest market failure the world has ever seen, a situation in which the market does not efficiently allocate resources to achieve the greatest possible customer satisfaction: climate change.

As Sir Nicholas Stern observed many years ago, climate change is the latest and most tragic confirmation of Garrett Hardin’s tragedy-of-the-commons theory. It’s a fascinating challenge for marketing professionals, a world championship for the best of the best: after getting everybody to buy Coke Zero and Apple, how about using social marketing to get 100% of the world’s population to adopt a behaviour change that, simply put, will allow our civilization to survive.

Market research has shown that 50% of people consider climate change to be the single greatest threat facing humanity – and one which will significantly impact future generations. But not even 10% of people think that they can personally make any difference: the public continues to externalise climate change to other people, places and times.

Climate change has faced various marketing difficulties:

-          Horrible naming: ‘Global warming’ sounds downright appealing and highly unlikely to prompt new behaviours. ‘Warming’ sounds about as dangerous as a sheep or an eiderdown comforter.

-          Education and information never get people to change their behaviour – whether it’s eating more fruit or using condoms – and they certainly won’t get a majority to renounce acts of consumption. So let’s forget the pamphlet approach.

-          Climate change is practically imperceptible. It’s sort of like getting people to accept that the earth is round and that it revolves around the sun: people’s physical senses and their understanding of the environment conflict with the message.

-          We must segment the market by means of useful analyses – such as Defra’s – that use variables such as willingness and ability to act.

We don’t have much time: a frog in a pot doesn’t die until the water boils, but he does become less willing and able as the temperature rises.  If marketing can’t solve this, we’ll have no choice but to go the 12 Monkeys route.

What marketing strategy would you use to address climate change?

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