Reality television (Supernanny):                  a social marketing “place” strategy                                     ...
Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing place strategy                            Journal of Consumer Marketin...
Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing place strategy                          Journal of Consumer Marketing ...
Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing place strategy                            Journal of Consumer Marketin...
Table III Perceived realism, accessibility, learning, and usefulness of the program                                       ...
Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing place strategy                           Journal of Consumer Marketing...
Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing place strategy                          Journal of Consumer Marketing ...
Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing place strategy                            Journal of Consumer Marketin...
Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing place strategy                           Journal of Consumer Marketing...
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Super nanny

  1. 1. Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing “place” strategy Raguragavan Ganeshasundaram and Nadine Henley Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, AustraliaAbstractPurpose – The purpose of this article is to investigate the effectiveness of the Supernanny reality television programs in teaching parenting techniquesand changing parenting behaviors.Design/methodology/approach – A telephone survey was conducted with a random sample of 400 respondents who had watched at least oneepisode of the Supernanny program.Findings – Almost 75 percent of the respondents had viewed the program regularly for interest and/or for educational reasons; significantly morepeople who said they watched for education could recollect parenting techniques than those who said they watched for entertainment. Respondentsagreed that the program informed them about different techniques for managing the behaviors of their children (88 percent) and said they had used (53percent) or intended to use (23 percent) a number of those techniques. A total of 80 percent of the respondents saw the show as realistic and 93percent of the viewers perceived the program as useful to some extent in terms of changing their behaviors and their children’s behaviors in positiveways. There were some significant differences, with greater effects in women, younger respondents, and parents of younger children.Practical implications – Reality television can be used as an effective social marketing, mass media “place” strategy to convey positive parentingtechniques and to promote positive behavior change.Originality/value – Edutainment (combining entertainment with education) has been used to promote positive social behaviors for some years butthe use of the specific entertainment vehicle “reality television” has not previously been examined as a social marketing place strategy.Keywords Social marketing, Consumer behaviour, Parents, Marketing mix, TelevisionPaper type Research paperAn executive summary for managers and executive Ultimately, the purpose of edutainment is to contribute toreaders can be found at the end of this article. directed social change, which is the process by which an alteration occurs in the structure and function of a social system at individual and community levels (Singhal andIntroduction Rogers, 2002).Edutainment, a mass media social marketing strategy, is used There are some outstanding examples. For instance, a 1969to promote positive behavior change by deliberate inclusion of Peruvian soap opera (Simplemente Maria), told the rags-to-socially desirable messages in entertainment vehicles riches story of Maria, who sewed her way to social and(Andreasen, 2002). Edutainment involves the design and economic success with a Singer sewing machine (Singhal andimplementation of media programs that deliberately Rogers, 1989). In South Africa, a multimedia edutainmentincorporate persuasive, educational content in popular strategy (Soul City) has had a considerable impact on theentertainment formats to influence audience knowledge, knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of South African peopleattitudes, behavioral intentions, and practices (Singhal et al., across a range of social and health issues (CASE, 1997). For1993). The deliberate insertion of socially desirable many years Sesame Street has provided a positive social modelinformation into entertainment vehicles with the purpose of for children, promoting sexual and racial equality (Harris,changing an audience’s knowledge, attitudes, and behavior is 1999). Similarly, Friends contained messages about the risksbased on social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1977, 1997) which of having unprotected sex and served as a sex educator forposits that individuals learn new behaviors by observing and youth (Collins et al., 2003).imitating the behavior of others. The advent of reality television provides a new opportunity Edutainment is a type of modern-day, mass media story for social marketers to convey messages through antelling that often conveys ideas related to health promotion edutainment vehicle. The dualities of reality television –and awareness. It has the advantage of presenting potentially excitement and mundanity, novelty and conventionality –threatening or sensitive topics in a non-threatening way and of lead to a sense of aliveness and relevance that is morereaching people who might otherwise not attend to the compelling than most other tools of communication andmessage (Donovan and Henley, 2003; Collins et al., 2003). make it an ideal construct to attract viewers (Holmes and Jermyn, 2004). The unscripted and seemingly spontaneous exploits and tribulations of “real” people on reality televisionThe current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at programs hold considerable appeal for millions of (Nicholas et al., 2003). One instance where positive parenting has been conveyed deliberately through a reality television edutainment program Journal of Consumer Marketing is Driving Mum and Dad Mad which attracted an audience of 26/5 (2009) 311– 319 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 0736-3761] 6 million UK viewers (Upham, 2005; Jones, 2006). It [DOI 10.1108/07363760910976565] documented the experiences of five families with young 311
  2. 2. Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing place strategy Journal of Consumer Marketing Raguragavan Ganeshasundaram and Nadine Henley Volume 26 · Number 5 · 2009 · 311 –319children undertaking a series of workshops, the “Triple P” The interviewing was conducted by the Survey Researchprogram (developed by Professor Matt Sanders and Centre at the University of Western Australia. The samplecolleagues) which help parents learn techniques to improve demographics are shown in Table I. A total of 3,584 calls wasbehavioral and mental health outcomes for their children. In made; 2,739 were unobtainable or business numbers, and 563Western Australia, in the mid-late 1990s, the “Triple P” did not meet the screening criteria (for example, they had notprogram recommendations were incorporated into a well- seen an episode of Supernanny or the quota they representedresourced social marketing positive parenting campaign using was full). Of the 1,359 eligible contacts, 959 refused, leavingadvertisements such as “Teach your children well” and 400 completed interviews, that is, a response rate of 29.4“Accentuate the positive” (Henley et al., 1998). The “Triple percent.P” workshop program has been rigorously evaluated (Zubrick The sample quota was split into:et al., 2005) and found to be successful in changing adverse . couple families with children under 12;behavioral outcomes in children and improving coercive . couple families with children aged between 12 and 18;parenting but, to our knowledge, the impact of delivering the . one parent families with children under 12;program via a reality television series has not been evaluated. . one parent families with children aged between 12 and 18; Supernanny is an example of a reality television series which andconveys parenting messages. Although we have no evidence . couple/single parent families with grown children whothat the producers were intending this to be a social marketing have left home or who had never had children.parenting strategy (as would have been the case with DrivingMum and Dad Mad), an analysis of the effectiveness of An attempt was made to include an equal male/female split inSupernanny could shed some light on the effectiveness of most categories although more women (69 percent) than menreality television as an edutainment vehicle for conveying (31 percent) responded to the survey. Particularly, thesocial marketing messages. In the program, Supernanny Jo interviewers found it difficult to obtain males for the singleFrost visits a family in each episode, offering parenting parent sample.techniques to resolve difficulties. Although at times somewhat All respondents provided their personal details (gender,controversial (Devine, 2005; Edwards, 2005), most of her age, number and ages of children) and responded to a numberrecommendations are based on recognized authoritative of questions relating to Supernanny: how many episodes theypositive parenting behaviors, that is, providing consistency, had seen, how they found out about it, why they watched thepraise, routine and boundaries. When the first series of show, their level of interest in the show; recollection andepisodes aired on Channel 9 in Australia, Supernanny became interpretation of information; effects on parenting beliefs,a phenomenal success attracting more than 1.8 million perceived learning, and discussion of the issues; and any self-viewers nationally an episode (Edwards, 2005; Jackson, 2005) reported behavioral change. Respondents were also asked toand sparking debate among welfare groups and parents. state whether the program had made any difference to them. While combining entertainment with education is not a newphenomenon, the use of reality television as a vehicle to The survey was conducted two months after the first series ofdisseminate information and to educate viewers about health Supernanny finished in Perth Western Australia.and social issues is a relatively new mass media opportunityfor social marketers. Previous edutainment studies have found Table I Respondent demographicschanges in knowledge, attitudes, and observed behavior(Story et al., 1999; Rogers et al., 1999; Vaughan et al., 2000; %Black et al., 2001; Steyer, 2002; Collins et al., 2003; Zeedyk Genderand Wallace, 2003). Though a small number of social Male 30.8scientists have discussed the phenomenon of reality television Female 69.2as an edutainment strategy for conveying social marketingcommunications (e.g. Singhal and Rogers, 2004; Seale, Family type2003), as yet, to our knowledge, the effectiveness of reality Single parent with children under 12 years 7.8television as a vehicle for this purpose has not been Single parent with children aged between 12 and 18 years 6.5investigated. In this study, we examined whether reality Couple family with children under 12 years 41.7television is an effective social marketing “place” strategy, Couple family with children aged between 12 and 18 years 17.5reaching into people’s living rooms with recommended Couple/single with grown children or never had children 26.5behaviors, at least in the context of positive parenting. Age 20-30 years 12.8 31-40 years 34.3Methodology 41-50 years 27.7A computer assisted telephone interview (CATI) 51-55 years 8.7methodology was used to obtain a stratified random sample 56 1 years 16.5of 400 Western Australian adults. Interviews were conducted No. childrenon weekends and on weekday evenings between 4:30 p.m. and 0 26.59:00 p.m. to maximize the availability of household members 1-2 54.0aged 20 years and over. Random digit dialing was used to 3-4 18.5select households for inclusion in the survey. Quotas wereapplied to obtain representation of population by age groups: 5-6 1.020-30; 31-40; 41-50; 51-55; and . 56 years, with an Note: n ¼ 400approximately equal representation of males and females. 312
  3. 3. Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing place strategy Journal of Consumer Marketing Raguragavan Ganeshasundaram and Nadine Henley Volume 26 · Number 5 · 2009 · 311 –319Findings (20 percent) and “speaking in a lower voice and listening to them” (12 percent).Awareness and interest in Supernanny More female respondents were able to recollect techniquesA total of 54 percent of respondents said they became aware than male counterparts (92 percent versus 79 percent;of the Supernanny program by viewing on-screen promotions; p , 0.01); more younger respondents (40 and under) were28 percent had found it by channel flicking; 14 percent had able to recollect techniques than older respondents (92found it through word of mouth. A total of 43 percent of the percent versus 84 percent; p , 0.05); and more of those whorespondents said they watched more than eight of the ten watched for education were able to recollect techniques thanepisodes and 62 percent of respondents had seen more than those who watched for entertainment (95 percent versus 87half. More women than men (47 percent versus 34 percent percent; p , 0.01). A relationship between the number ofmen; p , 0.01) reported that they had watched eight or more episodes watched and the recollection of parenting techniquesepisodes. As might be expected, there was a significant was found ( p , 0.01).relationship between the length of overall television viewingand the number of episodes watched ( p , 0.01): 60 percent Parenting techniques: newnesswho watched television for three-five hours/day had watched Of those who reported that they were able to recollecteight or more episodes compared to 40 percent who watched parenting techniques (n ¼ 351), 34 percent said that theyfor one-three hours/day and 16 percent who watched less than learned something new about parenting (Table II): 73 percentone hour a day. A total of 51 percent reported that they nominated “naughty step/time out” as the technique that waswatched with their partners; 41 percent said that they new to them, followed by “talking to the children” (27watched with their children, and 22 percent said they watched percent), “having a set routine/discipline to follow” (13alone; 6 percent of those who said they watched with “others” percent), “positive reinforcement/rewards” (13 percent);specified “grand children”. “spending quality time with children” (9 percent) and A total of 47 percent of 20-30 and 31-40 age groups and 53 “getting children involved” (8 percent). More youngerpercent of 51-55 year olds had seen eight or more episodes. respondents reported that they had learned something newHalf of the respondents from single parent families reported than older respondents (43 percent versus 25 percent;that they had seen eight or more episodes as did 45 percent of p , 0.01); more female respondents than male respondentscouple families with children under 12. (42 percent versus 31 percent; p , 0.01) and more families Many respondents also watched other reality television with children under 12 (40 percent) reported learning a newshows: Big Brother (64 percent), Dancing with the Stars (53 technique than families with children over 12 years. Thepercent), Biggest Loser (47 percent), Survivor (43 percent), relationship between the number of episodes watched and theand Amazing Race (36 percent). number of new techniques reported was significantReasons for watching Supernanny ( p , 0.05).Most respondents said they watched Supernanny forentertainment (68 percent) and/or for educational reasons Parenting techniques: tried(49 percent), while 7 percent watched for other reasons, such When asked whether they had tried any of the techniques, 53as “curiosity”, “nothing else on TV”. Significantly more percent of the respondents who answered this questionwomen (52 percent versus 40 percent men; p , 0.05); (n ¼ 274) said that they had tried at least one technique. Firstyounger respondents (40 and under) (55 percent versus 35 mentions were: “naughty step/time out” (74 percent),percent older respondents; p , 0.00) and parents with “positive reinforcement/rewards” (24 percent), “talking tochildren under 12 (65 percent versus 34 percent parents the children” (21 percent), “having a set routine/discipline towith children aged 12-18; p , 0.01) reported watching follow” (18 percent), and “being firm and consistent” (15Supernanny for education. percent). Second mentions were “spending quality time with children” (17 percent), “teaching children good manners” (9Effectiveness of reality television as an edutainment percent), and “getting children involved” (8 percent). Bothstrategy men (52 percent) and women (54 percent) had tried at leastRespondents were asked whether they were able to recollect one technique. Significantly more younger respondents (65any parenting techniques from the programs; whether they percent versus 35 percent older respondents; p , 0.01) andhad gained any new information; and whether they had acted parents with children under 12 years (61 percent versus 25or intended to act on the information. These results are percent parents with children aged over 12 years; p , 0.01)summarized in Table II and discussed in detail below. reported that they had tried one or more of the techniques. A total of 50 percent of single parent respondents compared toParenting techniques: recollection 26 percent of couple respondents reported that they had triedMost respondents (88 percent) recollected (unprompted) at at least one technique. There was a significant relationshipleast one technique; 67 percent recollected two techniques, between the number of episodes watched and whetherand 41 percent recalled at least three parenting techniques. Of techniques had been tried ( p , 0.01).those who said they could recollect a technique, 83 percentrecollected the “naughty step/time out” technique, followed Parenting techniques: trial intentionby “talking to the children” (44 percent), “having a set A total of 23 percent of those who had not tried a techniqueroutine/discipline to follow” (30 percent), “positive (n ¼ 138) said that they intended to try out the techniques inreinforcement/rewards” (28 percent), “being firm and the future. First mentions were: “naughty step/time out” (81consistent” (25 percent), “spending quality time with percent), “having a set routine/discipline to follow” (26children” (10 percent) and “working together with partner” percent), “positive reinforcement/rewards” (23 percent),(7 percent). As part of “talking to the children”, they “being firm and consistent” (19 percent), and “talking tospecifically recollected “getting down to eye level with kids” the children” (19 percent). More female respondents (27 313
  4. 4. Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing place strategy Journal of Consumer Marketing Raguragavan Ganeshasundaram and Nadine Henley Volume 26 · Number 5 · 2009 · 311 –319Table II Respondents’ knowledge and behavior relating to parenting techniques Could recollect technique Previously unaware of Had tried Intending to unprompted technique technique try technique (n 5 400) (n 5 351) (n 5 294) (n 5 138)Parenting techniques Yes 351 (88%) Yes 120 (34%) Yes 156 (53%) Yes 31 (23%)Naughty step/time out 83 73 74 81Communication/talking to children 44 27 21 19Having a set routine/discipline to follow 30 13 18 26Positive reinforcement/rewards 28 13 24 23Firm and consistent 25 6 15 19Spend quality time with children 10 9 12 3Working together with partner 7 3Other 10 8 13 13percent) than male respondents (13 percent) and more of Many respondents reported talking with family and friendsthose who watched for educational reason (38 percent) than about techniques used on the show (48 percent), behavior offor entertainment (19 percent) reported having an intention children on the program (28 percent), how Jo Frost dealt withof using one or more of the techniques in the future. A third naughty kids (24 percent), how some parents have no controlof respondents aged between 20 and 30 and a third who had over their children (19 percent), and generally what happenschildren aged under 12 years reported that they had an on the show (15 percent). A total of 35 percent of theintention of using one or more of the recommended respondents said that they talked with their own childrentechniques. about the behaviors of the children on the program and the In the next section, the perceived realism, accessibility, techniques used. When prompted, a quarter said they hadopportunity to learn and overall usefulness of the program are threatened their children with Supernanny; 45 percent saidreported. These results are presented in Table III cross- that their children often initiated the conversation abouttabulated with demographics. something they saw on the program: about the behaviors of kids in the program (28 percent); how Supernanny deals with kids on the program (22 percent) and comparing theParenting messages: perceived value behaviors of the kids on the program with their ownMost respondents (82 percent) who tried techniques said that behavior (21 percent). Some respondents (8 percent) statedthey were helpful. Several ways were identified. For example, that they had noticed adverse behavior change in theirparents had more self-confidence (“gave me confidence on children after watching Supernanny, mimicking the negativehow to deal with a situation”; “gave me somewhere to start behaviors of the kids on the program to seek their parents’and a structure to manage my child’s behavior”); able to set attention.boundaries (“helps sets child’s boundaries”; “reaction is Respondents were asked to rate the program on a five-pointpositive to time out – learn boundaries”); have good scale (strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5)) against threecommunication (“understanding us as parents better/ statements:communication”; “getting down to their eye level and using 1 Realism (improvement in the children’s behavior in theeye contact seems to help as my child pays more attention”; program was realistic).helps me understand my children’s needs more’); able to 2 Accessibility (this program brought useful information onbuild self-esteem (“help with managing his (the child’s) parenting techniques into my own living room).behavior at that time”); recognized positive parenting 3 Opportunity to learn (without this program I would notbehaviors (“helped me stay calm – good investment to have have an opportunity to learn much about parentingthese strategies in place to have a positive household”; techniques).“helped keep control of the situation – keeping harmony atthe same time keeping parental guidance and control”); and A further statement assessed overall usefulness for providingknow how to discipline (“it helped with showing the parenting messages and persuading behavioral changes on aconsequences of misbehaving”; “helped him (the child) five-point scale (undecided (1), poor (2), fair (3), good (4),learn what he is allowed to do and what not to do”; “helped and excellent (5)).me to be consistent and know how and when to praise”). RealismMore younger respondents than older respondents (87 A total of 80 percent agreed/strongly agreed that the contextpercent versus 63 percent; p , 0.05), and more families as well as the improvements in the children’s behavior in thewith young children (under 12) reported that the information program as realistic. Significantly more female respondentshelped them in dealing with their children (83 percent) than (82 percent versus 73 percent men; p , 0.05); respondentsfamilies with children over 12 years (65 percent). Although with children under 12 years (81 percent versus 77 percentthere was no difference in trying techniques between those with children over 12 years; p , 0.01) and those who watchedwho watched Supernanny for entertainment and those who for educational reason (85 percent versus 77 percent forwatched for educational reasons, 89 percent of those who entertainment; p , 0.01) perceived the improvement in thewatched for educational reasons found the program helpful children’s behavior as realistic. More respondents from 20-40compared to 78 percent who watched for entertainment (89 percent) and 51-55 (88 percent) age groups perceived the( p , 0.01). improvement as realistic compared to 41-50 (72 percent) and 314
  5. 5. Table III Perceived realism, accessibility, learning, and usefulness of the program Respondents’ ratings of the program (row percentages rounded) Realism Accessibility Opportunity to learn Usefulness Disagree/ Agree/ Disagree/ Agree/ Disagree/ Agree/ strongly strongly strongly strongly strongly strongly disagree Undecided agree disagree Undecided agree disagree Undecided agree Undecided Poor Fair Good Excellent Gender Male 16 11 73 24 8 68 81 3 16 6 7 29 43 15 Female 10 8 82 18 7 76 77 5 18 2 2 18 53 25 Total 12 9 79 19 7 74 78 5 17 3 4 21 50 22 Family type Raguragavan Ganeshasundaram and Nadine Henley Single parent with children under 12 years 10 11 78 3 7 87 65 10 26 0 0 26 42 32 Single parent with children aged Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing place strategy between 12 and 18 years 19 4 77 8 4 89 89 0 11 4 8 15 50 23 Couple family with children under315 12 years 8 9 83 18 5 77 79 5 16 1 4 22 48 25 Couple family with children aged between 12 and 18 years 14 11 75 26 10 64 64 9 27 7 3 26 53 11 Couple/single with grown children who have left home or never had children 16 5 79 25 9 67 74 5 21 6 3 15 54 22 Age 20-30 years 6 8 86 4 8 88 65 8 27 0 2 16 49 33 31-40 years 9 8 83 15 4 81 60 5 15 1 3 26 46 23 41-50 years 16 12 72 29 11 60 84 3 13 6 4 30 46 14 51-55 years 6 6 88 20 0 80 71 3 26 0 0 9 54 37 56 1 years 16 8 76 25 7 66 76 5 19 9 6 7 60 18 Helpful in dealing with children Yes 6 7 87 4 2 94 73 6 21 0 2 19 47 32 No 8 15 77 31 12 58 88 0 12 4 7 15 58 15 Journal of Consumer Marketing Volume 26 · Number 5 · 2009 · 311 –319
  6. 6. Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing place strategy Journal of Consumer Marketing Raguragavan Ganeshasundaram and Nadine Henley Volume 26 · Number 5 · 2009 · 311 –31956 and over (76 percent) age groups; 87 percent of those who respondents agreed that the program informed them aboutsaid Supernanny was helpful in dealing with their own children positive parenting and a third reported learning somethingagreed that the improvement in the behavior of the children’s new about parenting as a result of watching the the program was realistic. Three quarters of respondents had either tried or intended to try the parenting techniques. Most who had tried techniquesAccessibility said that they were helpful in building parents’ self-confidenceOverall, 74 percent agreed/strongly agreed that the program and children’s ability to manage their behavior, settingbrought useful information into their living rooms; this was boundaries; communicating with children; and staying calmperceived by more women (76 percent compared to 68 and in control.percent men); respondents from single parent families (88 As we are proposing that reality television can be anpercent compared to 65 percent respondents from other effective social marketing “place” strategy, it is interesting tofamily groups); and younger respondents (84 percent consider these findings in relation to an evaluation of ancompared to 65 percent older respondents; p , 0.01). Theresults showed that 94 percent of those who said Supernanny actual social marketing campaign to communicate parenting.helped them in dealing with their children (compared to 58 In 1996/1997, “Accentuate the Positive: Positive Parentingpercent who disagreed; p , 0.01) also agreed/strongly agreed Campaign” was developed by the Western Australian Familythat the program brought useful information into their living and Children’s Services to promote positive parentingrooms. techniques. The recommended behaviors were based on research which had identified that an “encouraging parentingOpportunity to learn style” is associated with substantially lower rates of mentalA total of 17 percent agreed/strongly agreed that, without this illness in children (Silburn et al., 1996). Rather thanprogram, they would not have had an opportunity to learn highlighting the dangers of coercive parenting or focusingabout parenting techniques (16 percent males; 18 percent on parents’ lack of skills, the campaign was designed to assistfemales). Of those who said Supernanny helped them deal parents in gaining mastery of the encouraging “authoritative”with their own children, 22 percent reported Supernanny as parenting style, building on existing skills to enable parents tothe only source of learning parenting techniques, while 73 manage their children’s behavior effectively at different stagespercent perceived availability of other parenting programs. in their development. A multi-sectoral, comprehensive socialOverall usefulness marketing approach involved developing several printed andA total of 93 percent of respondents rated the program as video products and services targeted at parents, teenagers,useful to some extent (fair/good/excellent) in terms of professional carers and other intermediaries. These werechanging their parenting behaviors as well as their children’s distributed via public libraries, shop front parentingbehavior. More women (78 percent compared to 58 percent information centers in shopping centers, the internet, viamen; p , 0.01) rated the program as good/excellent in terms direct response, and a parenting information telephone line;of its usefulness; single parent families and couple families all this was supported by direct mail, mass media advertisingwith children under 12 years rated the program more and publicity (Donovan and Henley, 2003).favorably (good/excellent) than other family groups. The The campaign was evaluated using survey research and bytwo age groups that rated the program most favorably (good/ monitoring requests for materials. The televisionexcellent) were 20-30 years and 51-55 years. Both those who advertisement achieved 69 percent awareness in the targethad agreed (80 percent) as well as those who had disagreed group. Over the duration of the campaign (1995-1997), over(73 percent) that Supernanny helped them in dealing with 350,000 booklets and 3,200 videos were distributed totheir own children considered it a useful source for learning parents and professionals, including teachers, child healthparenting techniques. nurses, social workers and child care workers. Telephone calls to the Parenting line in October 1996 (when the advertising campaign was scheduled) increased byDiscussion 40 percent compared with the previous monthly calls. MarketCombining entertainment with education is not a new research found significant positive shifts in attitudes tophenomenon; however, the use of reality television as a obtaining help with parenting. In 1996, 54 percent of parentsvehicle to disseminate information and to educate the public agreed with the statement that “Parents who need help inabout health and social issues is a relatively new mass their parenting role are failures;” by 1997 this had dropped toapproach. Edutainment using soap operas and drama has 44 percent. A total of 25 per cent of parents said they hadbeen previously shown to be effective but reality television as a done something to improve their parenting as a result of asocial marketing “place” strategy has not previously been seeing this advertisement, with 40 percent saying theyinvestigated, to our knowledge. We believe these findings planned to (Donovan Research, 1996). For socialrelating to Supernanny confirm that reality television can be marketers, this indicates substantial behavioral as well asused to effectively market social messages such as positive attitudinal change. The evaluation methodologies are notparenting. directly comparable as we screened for viewing the The program attracted an audience from a wide age range Supernanny program whereas the Positive Parentingincluding parents, children and grandparents. The majority evaluation survey was conducted with a random sample ofwatched for interest and/or for educational reasons and were the general population but it is encouraging that 53 percentable to recollect unprompted many of the parenting Supernanny viewers in our sample reported trying a parentingtechniques. Though there is some skepticism that people technique and 23 percent intended to try.can process and retain messages via mass communication Supernanny episodes provoked conversation about the showchannels (McGuire, 1985), this study showed that it is among parents and children as they watched it and amongstpossible to effectively deliver social messages to a large adults at other times. This suggests that the program providedaudience using the medium of reality television. Most opportunities for improving communications and 316
  7. 7. Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing place strategy Journal of Consumer Marketing Raguragavan Ganeshasundaram and Nadine Henley Volume 26 · Number 5 · 2009 · 311 –319relationships with family and friends. These conversations Referencesmay have given parents a chance to put information aboutpositive behavior in a context appropriate to family beliefs, Andreasen, A.R. (2002), “Marketing social marketing in thevalues, and culture, and given them an opportunity to social change marketplace”, Journal of Public Policy andchallenge any negative media messages (Singhal and Rogers, Marketing, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 3-13.1999; Steyer, 2002). Some respondents had noticed negative Bandura, A. (1977), Social Learning Theory, Prentice-Hall,behavior change in their children after watching Supernanny, New York, NY.where the children mimicked the negative behaviors of the Bandura, A. (1997), Self-efficacy: The Exercise of Control,kids on the program before Supernanny’s arrival. Children Freeman, New York, NY.may be less likely than adults to see the contrived nature of Black, D., Blue, C. and Coster, D. (2001), “Using socialreality shows and more likely to take the messages at face marketing to develop and test tailored health messages”,value (Hummer, 2004). This could happen when increasing American Journal of Health Behavior, Vol. 25 No. 3,the entertainment attractiveness of a social message, which pp. 260-71.offsets the positive influence on audiences (Greenberg-Seth CASE (1997), Let the Sky be the Limit: Soul City Evaluationet al., 2004). Social marketers should be aware of the different Report, Braamfontein.segments of the population that might view the contents of Collins, R.L., Elliott, M.N., Berry, S.H., Kanouse, D.E. andthe program differently or may pick up the negative aspects of Hunter, S.B. 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The show was Perth.considered by at least one psychiatrist to have a beneficial Donovan, R. and Henley, N. (2003), Social marketing:effect by taking “parenting out of the realm of textbooks or Principles and Practice, IP Communications, Melbourne.parenting courses” and making “the experience real for the Edwards, H. (2005), “Super nanny or demonic Maryviewer” (Ricci, 2005). A comment from participants was that Poppins?”, The Sun-Herald, 24 April, available at: www.the lessons were more vivid and easily absorbed because of 60705.htmltheir immediacy and accessibility. This suggests that if (accessed 6 December 2007).positive parenting portrayals were more prevalent on reality Greenberg-Seth, J., Hemenway, D., Gallagher, S., Ross, J.television the effects observed might well be more powerful. and Lissy, K. (2004), “Evaluation of a community-based The study is limited by the response rate and the percentage intervention to promote rear seating for children”, Americanof respondents who had seen multiple episodes, suggesting Journal of Public Health, Vol. 94 No. 6, pp. 1009-13.that, in general, people who were prepared to answer our Harris, R.J. (1999), A Cognitive Psychology of Masstelephone survey were already predisposed to the program. Communication, 3rd ed., Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ.However, even with this reservation, we believe the results Henley, N., Donovan, R. and Moorhead, H. (1998),support our hypothesis that the vehicle of reality television can “Appealing to positive motivations and emotions in socialbe used as an effective social marketing, mass media “place” marketing: example of a positive parenting campaign”,strategy to convey positive parenting messages and promote Social Marketing Quarterly, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 48-53.positive behavior change. Holmes, S. and Jermyn, D. (2004), Understanding Reality Television, Routledge, London.Managerial implications and applications Hummer, E. (2004), “Keeping it real: a look at realityThis study has implications for social marketers in general television”, in Christenson, P.G. (Ed.), Prime Time Teens:and those involved in communicating positive parenting in Perspectives on the New Youth Media Environment, W.T.particular. The findings suggest that reality television can Grant Foundation/Mediascope, New York, NY.generate awareness and educate the public on parenting Jackson, S. (2005), “Nanny to put Joey in his place”,issues, offer useful role modeling for dealing with children, The Australian, 28 April, available at: www.and have the potential to affect a broad cross-section of the,5942,15104529,00.population. Dramatically depicting parenting-related issues html (accessed 6 December 2007).through reality television can teach by vividly portraying the Jones, S. (2006), “Flight from reality shows”, Guardian,experiences of families with whom viewers identify. This 3 August, available at: may provide the inspiration and motivation 0,329544477-108725,00.html (accessed 6 Decemberindividuals need to make changes in their own behaviors. The 2007).perceptions of realism and accessibility can be considered McGuire, W.J. (1985), “Attitudes and attitude change”,important advantages of a reality television program over in Lindzey, G. and Aronson, E. (Eds), Handbook of Socialtraditional media campaigns. Reality television has the Psychology, 3rd ed., Random House, New York, NY,advantage of being able to model socially responsible pp. 233-346.behavior in an entertaining way and this can produce, under Nicholas, D., Huntington, P., Williams, P. and Gunter, B.the right circumstances, a variety of effects on audience (2003), “An evaluation of the health applications (andattitudes, knowledge and behavior. implications) of digital interactive television: case study – 317
  8. 8. Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing place strategy Journal of Consumer Marketing Raguragavan Ganeshasundaram and Nadine Henley Volume 26 · Number 5 · 2009 · 311 –319 the Living Health Channel”, Journal of Information Science, making and social marketing. He is affiliated with Edith Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 181-92. Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia, thoughRicci, R.J. (2005), “Revolution health group”,, currently employed by the West Australian State December, available at: Government Department of Treasury and Finance. columnist/reality_tv_column.html (accessed 6 December Nadine Henley is Professor of Social Marketing and 2007). Director of the Centre for Applied Social MarketingRogers, E.M., Vaughan, P.W., Swalehe, R.M., Rao, N., Research at Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Svenkerud, P. and Sood, S. (1999), “Effects of an Australia. She is co-author, with Rob Donovan, of Social entertainment-education radio soap opera on family Marketing: Principles and Practice (2003, IP Communications). planning behavior in Tanzania”, Studies in Family Her current research applies social marketing principles to Planning, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 193-211. promoting positive environments to improve health and well-Seale, C. (2003), Media and Health, Sage, Thousand Oaks, being. Nadine Henley is the corresponding author and can be CA. contacted at:, S.R., Zubrick, S.R., Garton, A., Gurren, L., Burton, P., Dalby, R., Carlton, J., Shepherd, C. and Laurence, D. Executive summary and implications for (1996), Western Australian Child Health Survey: Family and managers and executives Community Health, Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Institute for Child Health Research, Perth. This summary has been provided to allow managers and executivesSinghal, A. and Rogers, E.M. (1989), “Pro-social television a rapid appreciation of the content of this article. Those with a for development in India”, in Rice, R.E. and Atkin, C. particular interest in the topic covered may then read the article in (Eds), Public Health Communication Campaigns, Sage, toto to take advantage of the more comprehensive description of the Thousand Oaks, CA. research undertaken and its results to get the full benefits of theSinghal, A. and Rogers, E.M. (1999), Entertainment- material present. education: A Communication Strategy for Social Change, Sage, Mahwah, NJ.Singhal, A. and Rogers, E.M. (2002), “A theoretical agenda Television and social awareness for entertainment-education”, Journal of Communication Employing media programs as part of the aim to inspire Theory, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 117-35. attitudinal and behavioral change in society has been widelySinghal, A. and Rogers, E.M. (2004), “The status of used. Termed edutainment, the process involves inclusion of entertainment-education world wide”, in Singhal, A. educational messages and content within popular programs in (Ed.), Entertainment-education and Social Change: History, order to inform and educate viewers. The premise is that Research, and Practice, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, change results because people observe and then imitate the behavior of others. Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 3-20. Through edutainment, social policy makers are able toSinghal, A., Rogers, E.M. and Brown, W.J. (1993), increase health awareness and address issues that may “Harnessing the potential of entertainment-education normally be perceived as threatening, sensitive or telenovelas”, Gazette, Vol. 51, pp. 1-18. controversial. High profile examples include the coverageSteyer, J.P. (2002), The Other Parent: The Inside Story of the given to the dangers of unprotected sex in Friends and the use Media’s Impact on our Children, Atria Books, New York, NY. of Sesame Street over a number of years to advocate sexual andStory, D., Boulay, M. and Karki, Y. (1999), “Impact of the racial harmony. An added bonus is the chance that integrated radio communication project in Nepal: 1994- edutainment can succeed in reaching those individuals that 1997”, Journal of Health Communication, Vol. 4 No. 4, conventional methods of communication fail to do. pp. 224-71. Analysts believe that the scope for exerting influence in thisUpham, J. (2005), “Driving Mum and Dad mad”, Radio way has increased further since the emergence of reality National, 27 April, available at: television. The phenomenon seemingly appeals to millions of stories/s1354043.htm (accessed 6 December 2007). people and “relevance”, “aliveness” and “spontaneity” haveVaughan, P.W., Regis, A. and Catherine, E. (2000), been variously cited as reasons. “Entertainment-education and HIV/AIDS prevention: Given the comparative newness of reality television, a field experiment in Tanzania”, Journal of Health research into its effects as a vehicle for social and behavioral Communication, Vol. 5, pp. 81-100. change is understandably limited. One example which has,Zeedyk, M.S. and Wallace, L. (2003), “Tackling children’s however, been well documented is the “Triple P” Program road safety through edutainment: an evaluation of that arose from the reality TV show Driving Mum and Dad effectiveness”, Health Education Research, Vol. 18 No. 4, Mad. The show features parents with troublesome tots and pp. 493-505. “Triple P” offers techniques for improving the behavior andZubrick, S.R., Ward, K., Silburn, S.R., Lawrence, D., mental health of the children. Recommendations were Williams, A., Blair, E., Robertson, D. and Sanders, M. subsequently used as part of a positive parenting campaign (2005), “Prevention of child behavior problems through in Western Australia. universal implementation of a group behavioural family A similar program is Supernanny. In this show, English intervention”, Prevention Science, Vol. 6 No. 4, pp. 287-304. nanny Jo Frost visits family homes and advises parents how to resolve problems with their offspring. She mainly bases her suggestions around the provision of consistency, praise,About the authors routine and set boundaries, measures that are widelyRaguragavan Ganeshasundaram has a PhD in market recognized as essential for positive and successful parenting.research. His research interests lie in managerial decision In Australia, the Supernanny program has attracted healthy 318
  9. 9. Reality television (Supernanny): a social marketing place strategy Journal of Consumer Marketing Raguragavan Ganeshasundaram and Nadine Henley Volume 26 · Number 5 · 2009 · 311 –319viewing figures and stimulated interest among parents and The authors note the number of respondents inspired towelfare organizations. discuss aspects of the show with family, friends or their children. This often led to parents comparing their children’sStudy and findings behavior with that of those kids appearing on the show. SomeThe aim in the present study is to ascertain whether or not parents claimed that the show made the children mimic theusing reality television can help transform knowledge, attitude bad behavior seen on the show in order to attract theirand observable behavior. A stratified random sample of 400 attention.adults aged 20 or over in Western Australia was obtained for Responses to further questions indicated that a significantthe survey using a computer assisted telephone interview number of people considered Supernanny as a realistic show(CATT) methodology. Henley and Ganeshasundaram set that provided access to useful information and an opportunityquotas for different age groups and the sample was also to learn. Nevertheless, many respondents did claim to beorganized by family type determined by factors such as aware of other parenting programs. A majority of participantsnumber of parents and age of any children. Another aim was considered the show helped them to improve their parentingto secure roughly equal representation of men and women in skills and their children’s behavior. Differences within certaineach category but 69 percent of survey respondents were segments of the survey were again apparent.female. It was especially difficult to obtain malerepresentation in the single parent sample. Conclusions Certain demographic information was obtained from Based on this evidence, Henley and Ganeshasundaramparticipants, who were then asked to respond to a series of believe that social messages relating to such as positivequestions about the Supernanny program. Among the study parenting can be effectively marketed through the use offindings were that: reality television. They believe that the wide age range of the. most viewers became aware of the program through on- show’s audience and the responses given in the survey goes screen promotions, channel hopping and word-of-mouth; some way to combating the skepticism about the likelihood of. a large proportion of respondents had watched half or individuals processing and responding to socially-oriented more of the episodes; messages delivered through mass communication channels. almost three-quarters viewed the show with their partners like reality television. and/or children; The authors refer to a social marketing campaign. various other reality television shows were popular with successfully carried out in the 1990s using a variety of many study participants; communication channels to illustrate the scope of using. entertainment or education were cited as main reasons for reality television for edutainment purposes. They also point to watching the show by the majority of respondents; expert belief that Supernanny helps to transform the. most respondents could recall one or more parenting experience for those watching in a way that any parenting techniques from the program; textbook could never achieve. Respondents also commented. around a third able to recall a technique felt they had that the “immediacy and accessibility” of the information help learned a new thing about parenting; to make things “more vivid and easily absorbed”. Henley and. just over half of the respondents admitted to trying out at Ganeshasundaram suggest that the impact may be even least one technique from the show; and greater if positive parenting was featured even more heavily on. around a quarter who had not tried a technique signaled reality TV. Social marketers are, however, urged to recognize their intention to do so in the future. the possibility of different population segments interpretingDifferences were apparent in many cases between, for the program differently.example, women and men, younger and older respondents That reality television can generate awareness of importantand whether children in the family were aged below or above social issues and potentially influence a wide cross-section of12. The number of episodes watched appeared to be the population and is highly significant. That it allows peoplesignificant in relation to the responses obtained for several to closely identify with the experiences of others could inspireof the questions. certain individuals to make dramatic and positive changes to Most respondents who reported trying techniques found their own behavior and, in this context, that of their children.them useful. People felt the techniques helped to increase It is acknowledged that findings could be limited by thetheir self-confidence and self-esteem, enabled them to set survey response rate and the number of participants whobehavioral boundaries, communicate better with their reported watching many episodes. The authors believe thatchildren, learn how to discipline and become more aware of these respondents may therefore have been “alreadywhat constitutes positive parenting. Again, belief that predisposed” to the show.techniques were helpful was stronger among certainsubgroups. Although the figure was high in each case, ´ (A precis of the article “Reality television (Supernanny): a socialslightly more who watched for education purposes considered marketing ‘place’ strategy”. Supplied by Marketing Consultantsthe information useful than those wanting to be entertained. for Emerald.)To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight.comOr visit our web site for further details: 319
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