YOUNG & RUBICAM (France) for Surfrider Foundation
Defterios: Why Egypt’s transition from its Arab Spring is so painful | CNN
By John Defterios
It was January 25, 2011 — day two of the World Economic Forum — when the brisk winds of change from Tahrir Square swept through the Swiss Alpine village of Davos.
Just a month before, in Tunisia, a vegetable seller triggered the Arab Spring when he doused himself with petrol and lit himself on fire. He had been frustrated by a sheer lack of opportunity, despite headline economic growth that looked promising on paper.
Tunisia, with a population of just over 10 million, is one matter. Egypt is eight times larger, and 40% of its people live on less than $2 a day.
Photo: Nick Bygon/Flickr
“The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all.”
- Aung San Suu Kyi
Marketing practitioners would certainly agree that a marketing venture would be incomplete without considering the classic 4 Ps of commercial marketing. Product, price, place, and promotion are essential concepts in developing a strategic marketing mix. Having the ‘right mix’ is crucial as it determines the success (or failure) of a marketing campaign, as it satisfies the campaign’s predetermined objectives.
Social marketing also adopted these 4 Ps of commercial marketing. Strategic planning would require a good understanding of these Ps to make an effective behavior change campaign. In social marketing, the Product is not merely the desired behavior, but the benefit that the target audience seeks. Price is the cost of having to give up an existing behavior to gain the benefits of the new behavior for adoption. Place remains as the platform or avenue where the behavior is performed, and Promotion is the communication strategy to send the campaign message across the target audience.
Quite interestingly, social marketing got more Ps other than these four. These include Policy, People, Partnership, Presentation, and Process, to name a few. As behavior change initiatives require support generally from all the stakeholders, these other Ps make the campaign more achievable. Change or creation of a policy is normally needed to sustain the desired behavior, as much as Partnership is deemed to play an important role in building capacity for behavior adoption. Managing these Ps to make the right mix is always a challenge, yet having to deal with them is often the most insightful and most encouraging marketing task as well.
Implementing a social marketing campaign goes hand in hand with its monitoring. Something can always go wrong, so they say. Hence, constant monitoring of campaign activities is a must. Mid-campaign adjustments can also be done to address issues encountered during the implementation process. As long as the audiences remain at the center of the campaign, and objectives are closely factored in, monitoring and material adjustments would always work for the best of the social marketing endeavor.
After the allotted period for the campaign, evaluation is done to assess its effectiveness and measure its success. The outcome and impact, most especially to the behavior, knowledge, and beliefs of the target audience, are carefully studied. This would also serve as the starting point to plan the campaign’s continuity.
Mobilizing people to action is indeed possible through social marketing. It can target audience groups/beneficiaries, resource providers, policy makers, or the general public itself. Though it would require different approaches and strategies, they are still all under the social marketing umbrella, having an end goal of advancing the adoption of a desired behavior for social change.
The “Iwas Plastik” Experience
Working on the ‘Iwas Plastik/ Hindi Ako Sipsip sa Plastik’ (Anti-Plastic Straw Use) campaign was a great learning experience. Indeed, when you believe in your cause, you will feel empowered to pursue it. To quote Steve Jobs, “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” Campaigning is one thing, but claiming it and owning it as a personal advocacy is truly life changing.
Putting all the DEVC208 learnings into action is a real challenge. Coming up with a social marketing plan and actually implementing it is indeed easier said than done. The implementation period is the most exciting though, as it is the real purpose of all the planning that was done beforehand. Upon the campaign rollout, the outpour of support was really overwhelming, and it was truly amusing that many netizens were actually interested to join us and be part of what they coined as the “Iwas Plastik Movement”. Celebrities and policy makers also easily showed their support online without hesitation, and that in itself made me believe that once a cause is noble and genuine, it can easily gain strong support from co-believers.
The group we initiated instantly grew in just a span of one month. From a small group of six, we are now 200+ strong in Facebook, and with 100+ followers on Twitter. We were also able to gather 100+ signatures for our online petition. I find all these really amazing, to think that we are just SocMar newbies who just aimed to make a difference and to contribute to the preservation of the environment through the simple act of refusing plastic straws.
What’s most regretful though is that the campaign should have gained far greater success if the team worked closely together as a group, all throughout the campaign period. Defining roles and assigning tasks must be really taken seriously in carrying out a social marketing campaign. When one is not able to fulfill a task, the rest are definitely expected to take over and carry on, to sustain the smooth flow of the campaign. It is somehow expected that the team members will have to juggle between work, school, and personal life; yet it shouldn’t be a reason for anyone to wind down as this campaign is an endeavor that we have committed ourselves into. There came a point, at the peak of the campaign implementation, when only two of the group members were solely searching and executing campaign materials to keep the social media platforms running. It was somehow settled internally, but that experience surely taught us a lot.
Preparing the final campaign report was also as tedious, but it was relieved by the splitting of tasks by the group. Writing for the campaign’s continuity is very much encouraging, as I’ve witnessed how this campaign was born, developed and gained strength. Seeing it making broader impact to the general public, affecting policy, and mobilizing resource providers in the future is truly ideal. The continuity plan is indeed ambitious, but as the saying goes, “Dream big. Start small.” :)
All in all, this social marketing campaign offered a myriad of experience. The challenges that came along the way in the preparation, execution, and assessment of this campaign are lessons that will be much valued. In a social marketing team, free riding is a no-no, and academic excellence must be upheld always. Not only were our skills developed, but teamwork and camaraderie were also magnified. Carrying out a social marketing campaign is hard work, but definitely worth every single effort of it for the benefit of beneficiaries, the supporters, and the larger society.