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Escaping the cave - Changing the metaphors of social marketing

Escaping the cave - Changing the metaphors of social marketing

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Are needs, target audiences, barriers, benefits and risks illuminating solutions for social marketers or keeping them in the cave? What are the questions to ask to step out into a different light? What other metaphors lurk in the shadows?

Are needs, target audiences, barriers, benefits and risks illuminating solutions for social marketers or keeping them in the cave? What are the questions to ask to step out into a different light? What other metaphors lurk in the shadows?

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Escaping the cave - Changing the metaphors of social marketing

  1. 1. Escaping the Cave: Changing the Metaphors of Social Marketing
  2. 2. It Is Just Semantics Semantics: The relation of words to thoughts and reality – the way that speakers commit themselves to a shared understanding of the truth, and the way their thoughts are anchored to things and situations in the world. Also the relation of words to community… emotions… social relationships (S Pinker, 2007. The stuff of thought).
  3. 3. “Needs” • A need is something required for a safe, stable and healthy life (e.g. food, water, shelter). • Needs Assessment: “A gap in actual and desired results.”
  4. 4. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
  5. 5. Mapping of Universal Values S Schwartz (2006). Basic Human Values: Theory , Methods, and Applications.
  6. 6. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, 1948) 22. Social Security. We all have the right to affordable housing, medicine, education, and childcare, enough money to live on and medical help if we are ill or old. 25. Food and Shelter for All. We all have the right to a good life. Mothers and children, people who are old, unemployed or disabled, and all people have the right to be cared for. 26. The Right to Education. Education is a right. Primary school should be free. See all 30 rights in the Declaration at
  7. 7. Questions Outside the Cave Is human autonomy and dignity always honored? Are satisfying needs the road to sustainable behavior and social change? How can peoples’ values inform social marketing? Are human rights a ‘need,’ an ethical framework, or a call for action?
  8. 8. “Target Audiences” The intended audience or readership of a publication, advertisement, or other message. “Target market:” A particular group of consumers at which a product or service is aimed.
  9. 9. Top-down and Seeker Models
  10. 10. Methods Top-Down • Policy and regulation • Enforcement • Guidelines • Research for problem description and analysis • Expert (evidence)-based interventions • Change behavior Seeker • Citizen engagement • Policy advocacy • Normative changes • Research for understanding, empathy and insight for solutions • Co-creation • Learn new things
  11. 11. Questions Outside the Cave • Who empowers whom? • How and when to identify and harness individual and community assets? • How and when to tap, nurture, expand and weave together social networks for learning and change? • How and when to build and sustain social capital? • How and when to shift markets and society?
  12. 12. “Barriers” • A fence or other obstacle that prevents movement or access. • A circumstance or obstacle that keeps people or things apart or prevents communication or progress.
  13. 13. What Barriers Do To Us We generate lists of barriers rather than analyzing which ones - A. Are important to people. B. Are theory and evidence based. C. Can be addressed by social marketing. Focus on removing them rather than – A. More important determinants or constraints on behaviors. B. Changing the conditions that led to them being there in the first place. C. Allowing people to be active agents in getting around them. D. Designing facilitators for new behaviors.
  14. 14. For Example Food Deserts Residents of the intervention neighborhood received a new 41,000-square-foot supermarket. Residents of the comparison neighborhood did not.  Few residents adopted the new market as their main food store.  Exposure to the new market had no statistically significant impact on BMI or daily fruit and vegetable intake at 6 months.  The new market appeared to have a positive impact on perceptions of food accessibility. Cummins et al. (2014) New Neighborhood Grocery Store Increased Awareness Of Food Access But Did Not Alter Dietary Habits Or Obesity. Health Affairs; 33(2): 283-291.
  15. 15. Benefits and Risks
  16. 16. Why Not? • Used only in Health Belief Model and Stages of Change Model. • Reinforces a ‘rational person’ approach to explanation and intervention. • Assumes people have the cognitive capacity (attentional bandwidth, self-control and understanding) to stop, think and make ‘rational’ choices. • There are better predictors of behavior (self- efficacy).
  17. 17. Naming the Shadows • “Nanny state” & “Liberal paternalism” • Containers • Control • Power • Tradition
  18. 18. Implications for Life Outside the Cave Language and metaphors can constrain or illuminate new ways to think about social marketing and wicked problems. Think critically about the frame, or theory, you use in social marketing projects. Talk about and treat others as you would want to be talked about and treated. That’s the core exchange!

Editor's Notes

  • Plato’s cave (wikipedia) - Plato has Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them, and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners' reality. Socrates explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not reality at all, for he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the manufactured reality that is the shadows seen by the prisoners. The inmates of this place do not even desire to leave their prison; for they know no better life. The prisoners manage to break their bonds one day, and discover that their reality was not what they thought it was. They discovered the sun, which Plato uses as an analogy for the fire that man cannot see behind. Like the fire that cast light on the walls of the cave, the human condition is forever bound to the impressions that are received through the senses. Even if these interpretations (or, in Kantian terminology, intuitions) are an absurd misrepresentation of reality, we cannot somehow break free from the bonds of our human condition - we cannot free ourselves from phenomenal state just as the prisoners could not free themselves from their chains. If, however, we were to miraculously escape our bondage, we would find a world that we could not understand - the sun is incomprehensible for someone who has never seen it. In other words, we would encounter another "realm", a place incomprehensible because, theoretically, it is the source of a higher reality than the one we have always known; it is the realm of pure Form, pure fact.
  • Need: (Wikipedia) Basic needs such as water, air, food and protection from environmental dangers are necessary for an organism to live. In addition to basic needs, humans also have needs of a social or societal nature such as the human need to socialise of belong to a family unit or group. Needs can be objective and physical, such as the need for food, or psychological and subjective, such as the need for self-esteem.

    Needs assessment: Over the past four decades, there has been a proliferation of models for needs assessment with dozens of models to choose fromThis is also the same basic process used in business under the term "market research". That is the process used to determine customer needs and wants for products and services. Wikipedia, Needs Assessment
  • Shalom Schwartz - Basic Human Values:
    , Methods, and Applications

    Values are beliefs. But they are beliefs tied inextricably to emotion, not objective, cold
    • Values are a motivational construct. They refer to the desirable goals people strive to
    • Values transcend specific actions and situations. They are abstract goals. The abstract
    nature of values distinguishes them from concepts like norms and attitudes, which
    usually refer to specific actions, objects, or situations.
    • Values guide the selection or evaluation of actions, policies, people, and events. That is,
    values serve as standards or criteria.
    • Values are ordered by importance relative to one another. People’s values form an
    ordered system of value priorities that characterize them as individuals. This hierarchical
    feature of values also distinguishes them from norms and attitudes.

    Each of the ten basic values can be characterized by describing its central motivational goal:
    1. Self-Direction. Independent thought and action; choosing, creating, exploring.
    2. Stimulation. Excitement, novelty, and challenge in life.
    3.Hedonism. Pleasure and sensuous gratification for oneself.
    4. Achievement. Personal success through demonstrating competence according to social standards.
    5. Power. Social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources.
    6. Security. Safety, harmony, and stability of society, of relationships, and of self.
    7. Conformity. Restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms.
    8.Tradition. Respect, commitment, and acceptance of the customs and ideas that traditional culture or religion provide the self.
    9.Benevolence. Preserving and enhancing the welfare of those with whom one is in frequent personal contact (the ‘in group’).

  • Image source:

    Focus remains on individuals …. Blame the victim…
  • World-changing research blog post
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