My first time at WSMC

I thoroughly enjoyed my first time attending the third staging of the World Social Marketing Conference in Toronto, April 21 to 23, 2013. There was discussion about the definition and practice of social marketing. And Nancy Lee said it best when she noted that SOCIAL and MARKETING go together like horse and carriage.

It was great meeting people doing social marketing from around the world and from different academic disciplines: public health, business, marketing, environment, medicine, behavioral economics. Social marketing is truly interdisciplinary.
The future of Social Marketing is looking great. I can’t wait to go back to the classroom and share more. Looking forward to the 4th WSMC in Australia in 2015.

Here is a view of my poster presentation for my poster presentation at World Social Marketing Conference, Toronto 2013 “Teaching Caribbean Students to Make the World a Better Place: Review of CARIMAC’s Social Marketing Courses”.


“SOCIAL and MARKETING go together like horse and carriage” – Nancy Lee

The Marketing Mix Evolution: From 4P’s to 4C’s to 4V’s and Now… O’s and A’s?

Back in 2008, I commented here on the way we conceptualize the 4Ps of marketing mix. I predicted then that we will see more letters of the alphabet being used to re-define the 4Ps.

Since then, we saw the Cs and Vs. Now in 2013, I have come across As and Os: acceptability, affordability, accessibility, awareness and objects, objectives, organizations, operations. When will it ever end?

For more discussion, see:

We have even added additional Ps. From as far back as 1999, in her book “Hands-on Social Marketing” Nedra Klein Weinreich posited publics, partnership, policy, purse-strings. Others have proposed people, process, presence, physical evidence (never mind the intrusion of the E).

Our field is indeed creative and I love this level of activity in theorizing useful frameworks to help understand what we do better. However, no amount of re-branding and repositioning of the traditional 4Ps will make the social marketer’s job any easier. As I said back in 2008,

ultimately we are trying to achieve behavior change and whichever mix of Ps, Cs, Vs help you to get there, it shouldn’t really matter as long as you can maintain your market share and beat the competition…After all that’s what marketing is all about.

Of course our job in social marketing is highly challenging because the behaviors we target are hard to maintain and have some tough competing behaviors that social marketing alone cannot address. The strategic application of the 4 marketing mix letters (whichever you choose to use to design your strategy) is a good place to start your planning.

But we can’t stop there alone, increasingly we are now expected to think of upstream and midstream influential others that can help us in achieving social and behaviour change.

NCDA’s Under 18 Drinking Campaign

The Jamaican National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) has been airing messages about under 18 drinking since the December 2012/January 2013 holiday period. So far I have only heard messages on various national radio stations and on the NCDA’s web site – click here to listen to the three radio spots. All three ads use music and lyrics reminiscent of Jamaica’s popular reggae/dancehall rhythms.

While the evaluation of the current “under 18 drinking” campaign has not been conducted as yet, the messaging strategy in Radio Jingle 3 was on target. It focused on alternative behaviours that individuals under 18 years of age could practice as opposed to the competing behaviour of drinking alcohol. This is in keeping with Kotler and Lee’s (2011) principle for social marketing success which encourages message designers to support and promote doable behaviours with significant potential impact.


The issue of “under 18 drinking” has been discussed in the national media for some time now – as early as summer 2012 one could find newspaper articles about NCDA’s attempt to address the issue. There have been references to research done by the NCDA in the media as well, which no doubt has helped to inform the recent radio messages about under 18 drinking. Some results to note:

  • 53% of teenagers between the ages 13 and 15 had used alcohol.
  • 80 % drank before age 14.
  • 35% had been drunk on one or more occasion.
  • Surveys between 1987 and 2006 showed that the percentage of teens using alcohol has  remained upwards of 70%.

- 2010 NCDA Survey

Some Jamaican media have labeled the behaviour with phrase “underage drinking” rather than “under 18 drinking” which has been used to label the recent campaign; the “under 18″ label specifies the age under which individuals should not be consuming alcohol. That’s Simple and good!

The NCDA is the Jamaican government agency charged with addressing matters relating to drug abuse. For now only radio ads are being disseminated. A print and televised version of the campaign should be out soon – in time for the next season of parties associated with Carnival usually held in March and April when it is likely that youth will be tempted to engage in the consumption of alcohol. I am looking forward to the other messaging formats promoting clear and specific behaviours as alternatives to drinking alcohol when you are under 18.

Congratulations to campaign designer Janet Morrison and her creative team as well as the NCDA staff who seem to be on the right track to promoting behaviour change regarding under 18 drinking.

Do you put on your condom properly?

pinch leave an inch and roll poster

A poster used in the “Pinch Leave an Inch and Roll” campaign.

This poster was one of the message instruments used in the “Pinch, leave an inch and roll” campaign which promoted putting on a male condom properly.

The campaign was implemented during 2009 to 2010 by Jamaica’s Ministry of Health’s National HIV/STI Programme (NHP) as part of its behaviour change communication strategy which combines interpersonal and mediated communication-based interventions. (See The Communication Initiative’s article for more on the particular behaviour change communication strategy). The campaign targeted 15-24 year old males.

Reactions to campaign:

Both positive and negative reactions were voiced as illustrated in the local newspapers…

The message is faulty and needs serious adjustment…[it] is undergirded by the belief that if our young people simply protected themselves while having sex, it would allow them to have a good quality of life and to be productive…

- Esther Tyson

I personally do not care for the ‘advertisement’ and I agree with some of the other points made in her column….[but] When it comes to disease spread, we should be thankful for any product that assists in the reduction of transmission. The National HIV/STI Prevention and Control Programme (NHCP) should in haste respond to Mrs Tyson’s misleading statements to the nation.

- Ann Marie Campbell

The Ministry of Health’s campaign was spot on. Recognising that young people today are participating in activities like this, arming them with the correct information can only assist.

- Corve DaCosta

This advertisement is plugging a loophole in the condom strategy and should be commended for its noble goal.

- Devon Dick

Right now, condoms have a place, at least as an attempt in the war against the spread of some sexually transmitted disease.

- S. Peter Cambell Sr

We can treat symptoms of course by giving out condoms and teaching kids how to use them, but in the long run what kind of a society are we creating?

- Paul H. Reid

Inadvertently, singer Queen Ifrica (aka Ventrice Morgan) used the phrase in her song titled “No Bwoy” which was released in July 2009: (See 0:30 where chorus begins with My body is the temple of the Most High and leads to Pinch, leave an inch and roll away yourself)

Despite the controversy, the campaign’s strength was its message that was clearly focused on a specific behaviour. Behaviours such as condom use are complex and within communication frameworks, placing focus on specific actions can contribute to larger goals such as a reduction in HIV transmission rates.

Fishbone: Animating Media Regulation Issues

In the summer of 2012, if you had not seen the ad with the cat dancing and singing “fishbone, nanana nanana, meow meow”, you obviously had not been watching local television or attending the cinema in Jamaica. The cat, which has been affectionately called “Fishbone” by fans, appeared in the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica‘s latest animated television ad dubbed “Handcart Wisdom”. The ad was first aired on national television stations on June 28, 2012 and was being shown in prime time slots on Jamaican television stations. The animation for this 30-second ad was done by Anieph and Alison Latchman, the husband and wife team of Alcyone Animation, along with illustrator Marlo Scott, who are also creators of the Cabbie Chronicles cartoon series.

The BCJ, Jamaica’s media regulatory body, has used public service announcements (PSAs) to promote issues of media regulation affecting Jamaican audiences. For example, in the past, they have promoted the use of lyrics fit for airplay on radio stations in their “Studio Mix” PSA. They also promoted the use of remote control codes to block children from viewing adult content in their “Put in the Code” PSA. These former ads depicted scenes using drama with various characters promoting the messages. The ads ended with a voice-over announcing the tagline: “More choices, better access and higher quality”. In the most recent cartoon ad, the tagline has changed to “People transitioning digital” – an appropriate slogan given the digital transition that is underway.

One of the main objectives of the “fishbone” cartoon ad was to focus wide attention on its message utilizing a fresh, cutting edge, creative and out-of-the-box approach to providing public information.

- Cordel Green, BCJ’s Executive Director,

Why did the ad work?

The success of an ad rests in its ability not only to hold our attention but also to deliver the message in such a way that we perceive the meaning in the way it is intended as well as remember the message long after we have seen or heard it. This is not easy. Three challenges to effective communication help to explain why. The challenge of selective attention assumes that audiences choose to pay attention to some information and ignore others depending on how much they agree with the content of the message. Selective perception suggests that people interpret information on the basis of their experience. Selective retention proposes that audiences decide to remember some information while largely forgetting much of what they initially observed.

Apparently, Jamaicans had chosen to watch this ad. According to a YouTube user who left a comment on the BCJ’s YouTube page, “I love it so much, anything I am doing I leave it, just to see it.” So what attracted people to the ad? Several reasons come to mind:

  1. the novelty of an authoritative entity such as the BCJ using cartoons to promote messages about challenging media regulation issues, specifically monitoring music played in public spaces;
  2. the animation with its colourful imagery which lends itself to the pictorial superiority effect or that tendency for persons to recall pictures more easily than words; and
  3. the use of edutainment which includes a dramatic scene depicting a Jamaican market place with its predictable characters – the buxom market woman, the handcart man – expressing themselves in our native language; characters many of us recognize, especially those of us who actually shop at the market. And if that wasn’t enough, there is also a dancing, singing cat which acts as a surprise element at the end of the ad, giving us something to take away and talk about.

Did we get the message?

With all these entertaining elements which made most of us wanting to keep watching the ad over and over, did people actually get the message? Some critics argued that the ad may have been somewhat ineffective because many people seemed to only remember the cat singing about its fishbone and forget what the ad was really trying to convey.

In a brief online survey done by CARIMAC (Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication, The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus) in August 2012, just over 80 respondents volunteered to offer their interpretation of the ad. From the responses logged, all but four persons liked the ad. Regarding the interpretation of the main message, most responses ranged from basic explanations such as “we should monitor music” to more in-depth elaborations – “we should listen to radio stations because we are more likely to hear songs with clean lyrics given that the BCJ regulates radio stations.” After seeing the ad several times, I think the BCJ was also encouraging media consumers not to just monitor music, but also monitor music played in public settings, especially spaces where you are likely to have children present.

Regardless of your particular interpretation of the ad after having seen it, Jamaican audiences definitely noticed it and took time to discuss it with their friends at public gatherings as well as online, including the BCJ’s Facebook page. If the BCJ wanted to hook your attention, so you could think about the issue of monitoring music played in public spaces, this ad was a great bait. But more questions are left to be answered. Is this ad a turning point for the BCJ’s approach to promoting media regulation issues? Given BCJ’s image as a media monitor whose handling of some regulatory matters in the past has not been well-received by all, do people see the organization in a different light now because of this ad? Mind you, a different kettle of fish, but nevertheless something worth pondering.

With the appeal of Fishbone, the BCJ may benefit from employing it for future ads. Many of us [Jamaicans] view foreign cable channels and we have seen animals playing a major role in some ads – the Aflac duck, the GEICO lizard; I guess in Jamaica we could have the BCJ cat.

Ultimately, the long term impact of the BCJ’s campaigns will be determined by the extent of audiences’s level of recall and comprehension of the messages and their willingness to act on the behaviours suggested by these messages.

Even though we are operating in a limited-resource environment, for effective behaviour change to occur, we would need more than a single PSA; additional communication strategies must be incorporated if campaigns are expected to facilitate long term change.  The “Handcart Wisdom” ad has been disseminated on many platforms including traditional broadcast media as well as online social media. In this animated ad, the BCJ persuades us to implement the behaviour of monitoring music on the public airwaves.  If we were really that in love with Fishbone, maybe it’s time we all dance to a different tune, challenging ourselves to be better media monitors.

“nanana nanana, meow meow!!”