The discussion about the creation of a network of Latin Americans working in Social Marketing began around 2014, when one Brazilian and one Colombian virtually met as part of their role serving the iSMA. Later on, in early 2017 a Peruvian joined the efforts to start consolidating what would be the first steps to create a Latin Americans Social Marketing Association. Building on this and in response to a call made at the World Social Marketing Conference 2017, some people from the region participated in an informal gathering to know about their role in social marketing and their interest in joining a regional association. A working group has been created to set the first steps to create the association.

The Brazilian Hamilton Coimbra Carvalho (@PublicHamilton) joined in 2014 the iSMA’s Board of Directors as Regional Representative for South America and the Caribbean. Besides taking part in collective decisions, he recently took up the role of communicating with new members of the iSMA and he was also part of the planning committee of the World Social Marketing Conference 2017 (#WSMC2017). Right after starting his appointment at the iSMA, he created a Google e-mail group to build a database of people from Latin America and the Caribbean interested in social marketing. After this, Carvalho started discussing with the Colombian Nathaly Aya Pastrana the idea of creating a social marketing association for Latin Americans.

Ms. Aya Pastrana (@AP_Nathaly) started contributing to the iSMA Communications Committee in 2014 where her main role has been co-editing the bi-monthly newsletter and supporting in other communication activities. She had her first interaction with social marketing associations while taking a master level course in Social Marketing, where with some colleagues she developed a marketing plan for the newly created European Social Marketing Association. In 2017 Ms. Aya Pastrana was invited to present in a plenary session at the World Social Marketing Conference 2017 entitled “Social Marketing: The Next Generation”, at the end of her presentation “Beyond Salsa, Samba and Tango: Social Marketing in Latin America”, and after agreement with Mr. Carvalho Coimbra and Ms. Ponce from Peru, she invited people from Latin America to join an informal lunch meeting to get to know each other and to discuss the potential of creating the regional association.

Ms. Vilarmina Ponce (@Vili_pl) and Ms Aya Pastrana met early 2017 in Peru, where Ms. Ponce as Communication Officer at CRONICAS Centre of Excellence in Chronic Diseases and with the support of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), drove a social marketing strategy to motivate people to use a salt substitute and specific measure of salt while cooking. Ms. Ponce in her position at CRONICAS  maintains a strong relationship with the Social Marketing Group at the College of Public Health of the University of South Florida, that early this year conducted an online training in Social Marketing for research groups in Latin America with the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

At the WSMC2017, Ms. Ponce and Ms. Aya Pastrana informally met with other delegates from Latin America, most of whom where having their first encounter with Social Marketing and expressed their interest in learning more about the field. A total of eleven people joined the gathering, three of which were representatives of the Social Marketing Association of North America (SMANA) and six of them are residents of the United States. During the brief discussion, attendees introduced themselves and expressed their interest in being part of a group that would allow them to connect with their “roots”. Moreover, a conversation was initiated related to the potential geographical overlap of the current SMANA population and the potential regional association for Latin Americans. 

The World Social Marketing Conference 2017 served as a venue to expose to the public the interest of creating a new association that represents the different cultures, values, identities and context characteristics of people from Latin American countries. The working group of the new to be association thanks the representatives from the iSMA, the ESMA, the AASM and of the SMANA who have offered their support in the process of building the regional association.