Media-related commercial marketing aimed at promoting the purchase of products and services by children, and by adults for children, is ubiquitous and has been associated with negative health consequences such as poor nutrition and physical inactivity. But, as Douglas Evans points out, not all marketing in the electronic media is confined to the sale of products. Increasingly savvy social marketers have begun to make extensive use of the same techniques and strategies used by commercial marketers to promote healthful behaviors and to counter some of the negative effects of conventional media marketing to children and adolescents.
Evans points out that social marketing campaigns have been effective in helping to prevent and control tobacco use, increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and promote condom use, as well as other positive health behaviors. He reviews the evidence from a number of major recent campaigns and programming in the United States and overseas and describes the evaluation and research methods used to determine their effectiveness.
He begins his review of the field of social marketing by describing how it uses many of the strategies practiced so successfully in commercial marketing. He notes the recent development of public health brands and the use of branding as a health promotion strategy. He then goes on to show how social marketing can promote healthful behavior, how it can counter media messages about unhealthful behavior, and how it can encourage discussions between parents and children.
Evans concludes by noting some potential future applications to promote healthful media use by children and adolescents and to mitigate the effects of exposure to commercial marketing. These include adapting lessons learned from previous successful campaigns, such as delivering branded messages that promote healthful alternative behaviors. Evans also outlines a message strategy to promote "smart media use" to parents, children, and adolescents and suggests a brand based on personal interaction as a desirable alternative to "virtual interaction."