iSMA News Desk

Managed by Julie Hentz and Nathaly Aya

Have an article you would like to share? Contact [email protected]

 SPARKS is an annual social marketing conference of almost 200 attendees, organized by the Pacific Northwest Social Marketing Association featuring over a dozen social marketing professionals from across the Pacific Northwest speaking (TED Talk style) about behavior change campaigns and insights related to environmental protection, community engagement, public health and advanced theory.

Here are some snapshots of the topics that will be addressed on the main day of this year’s conference:
  • Environmental Protection
  • o   Wildfires
  • o   Farm conservation
  • o   Altering our language to inspire environmental action
  • o   Going Solar through Peer-to-Peer Marketing
  • Community Engagement
  • o   The power of transcreation
  • o   The need to develop culturally elastic campaigns
  • o   Pro-active tools for opioid prevention
  • o   Effective engagement practices with diverse communities to promote methods of safer cleaning
  • o   Testing qualitative research methods
  • o   Expanding the ways that we think about change
  • Public Health
  • Advanced Theory in Behavior Change

This year, the conference will occur on Monday, December 10th from 9:00am to 4:00pm & an optional second day, Tuesday, December 11th from 9:30am to 4:00pm and will be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

The conference also includes an optional second day dedicated to expert-led (including Doug McKenzie-Mohr) in-depth workshops on intermediate and advanced social marketing practices and processes. This year, the day has two primary points of focus: 1) effective ways to spark behavior change depending on the levels of barriers and motivations your program is facing and, 2) evaluation strategies for social marketing practices. Learn more about Day Two here.

The goal of the SPARKS conference is to unite people who represent a wide range of professional fields and disciplines who are passionate about tackling the “Wicked Problems” that exist in their respective fields. Fundamentally, our hope is to provide you with a richer, more robust social marketing toolkit that you can carry into your own professional life.


We can’t wait to see you there!


iSMA Inaugural Participant of the Alliance
By Patrick Cook, September 26, 2018

Washington, DC – Just over a year ago, 40 development and behavior change communication and marketing professionals from around the world gathered at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) headquarters in New York to develop a “global mechanism” for ensuring that behavior change professionals are at the table when planning, implementing, and evaluating development programs and initiatives. iSMA was there.

The ”mechanism” now has a name, a charter, and a whole lot of momentum as we head into a year of building and advocacy on behalf of the social and behavior change professions. Meet the Global Alliance for Social and Behavior Change – Building Informed and Engaged Societies. As outlined on its temporary website, the Alliance also a vision, a mission, and some clear goals (not to mention a lot of hard work by some committed members):

Fully informed and engaged societies working to achieve equity and realize their rights.

Advance the scale, quality, impact and sustainability of communication for development, media
for development, social change and behavioral
change strategies.

(1) Expand policy influence of this perspective and experience; (2) Capture and communicates
the most compelling evidence; (3) Support the scale up of this work; (4) Improve the quality of
this work; and (5) Promote higher levels of funding support for this work.

The inaugural group of 20 different development organizations and agencies have pulled
together over the past year to focus on three main initiatives:

  1. Highlight the evidence and impact of social and behavior change approaches
  2. Develop compelling tools to “expand the policy influence” of these approaches on policymakers and program designers, especially those who have committed their agencies to the sustainable development goals of the UN.
  3. Put an infrastructure in place to support this work in the long term.

These three initiatives came together at the recent UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the UN’s annual gathering that came out of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). At the Forum, the Alliance hosted an event and briefing for policymakers and program directors attending the Forum to ensure social and behavior change is on the their radars as they plan – and fund – more programs focused on bringing about lasting social change across a wide number of issues, from the environment and social justice to child and maternal health and education.

ISMA’s participation has been integral to getting the Alliance up and running. Through the efforts of iSMA member and chair of the World Social Marketing Conference, Jeff French, at last year’s conference in Washington, DC, the iSMA was invited to attend the organizing meeting of the Alliance. Social Shift’s Craig Lefebvre and I attended the meeting, chaired by Rafael Obregon, Chief of the Communication for Development Section at UNICEF New York. Since this meeting, George Washington University’s Doug Evans has been participating in the Evidence and Impact workgroup on behalf of iSMA, and I continue to be involved with the Infrastructure and Policy workgroups.

For more information about the initiative and next steps, please feel free to contact me at
[email protected]


The iSMA Board is honored to welcome three new members who were elected from a pool of many impressive candidates. Diogo Verissimo, PhD, Karis Schoellmann, MPH, and Luca Uguzzoni will be supporting the work of the International Social Marketing Association for a 3-year term. Please get to know Luca, Karis, and Diogo and their impressive social marketing experience through the following overviews.

Karis Schoellmann, MPH has worked in Women’s Health and Maternal Child Health throughout a career that spans 30-years, including work at Planned Parenthood of Louisiana and with the Louisiana Department of Health in their Maternal and Child Health Program. She is currently working as the Director of the Communication, Innovation, and Action Team at the Louisiana Department of Health’s Bureau of Family Health. Karis is also a faculty member at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, where she teaches Introduction to Social Marketing, Health Communication: Theory and Practice, and Social and Behavioral Aspects of Global Health courses.
Two ongoing Bureau of Family Health initiatives in which Karis has played a key role and uses social marketing behavior change frameworks, are the Partners for Healthy Babies and the Give Your Baby Space campaigns. Both campaigns, designed to reduce Louisiana’s infant mortality, are targeted to parents and families. Other current work with which Karis is involved includes using social marketing frameworks in a more upstream approach to impact providers to effectively address the social determinants of health involving women’s wellness. 
Karis takes her role in guiding and inspiring the next generation’s global public health workforce seriously. In fact, her desire to join the iSMA board was inspired by this motivation. Karis has been elected by the iSMA Board to the position of Treasurer as Kelly Dennings steps down.

Luca Uguzzoni is currently working with the Ambi Group as a Marketing Brand Consultant in Lugano, Switzerland. Over his 30-year career in marketing and branding, Luca has worked on projects with UBS bank, Bank Julius Baer, Nespresso, Unicredit, Bolton, Vorwerk, and top global sporting events like the Winter and Summer Olympic Games, America’s Cup Sailing, World Championships and World Cups. He cites his time living in Valencia, Spain while working with the America’s Cup International Sailing Competition, as significant. “I was able to witness how the city transformed when America’s Cup was held there.  It was the perfect example of a ‘smart city concept’ in action. My passion is to improve urban well-being and to create and implement sustainable and inclusive opportunities for all.” Luca guides clients’ marketing operations to include sustainability initiatives, and encourages them to realize the ecological and social responsibilities they have to their stakeholders and the community. “One of the most significant projects I’ve worked on, was producing a solar-powered racing car named ‘Emilia’. The car was built by a group of small companies based in the ‘motor valley’ in Italy, who were committed to developing a car powered by solar energy. Emilia, was built and became a strong competitor at the ‘World Solar Challenge’’ in Australia, the premiere global competition in this category of cars.
Through his new commitment to iSMA, Luca sees unique opportunities to create shared value with other organisations through strategic partnerships. The work of iSMA provides concrete possibilities to develop projects that combine social & sustainable principles.  This collaboration will aim to embrace the creation of well-crafted ideas where the outcome is measured against defined objectives.

Diogo Verissimo, PhD earned his Doctorate in Biodiversity Management from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom. His latest work in press is,” Does It Work for Biodiversity, Experiences and Challenges in the Evaluation of Social Marketing Campaigns. Social Marketing Quarterly. He is also currently Guest Editor at the Social Marketing Quarterly for a Special Issue on Biodiversity Conservation and Social Marketing.
Diogo has devoted his career to the conservation of biodiversity using social marketing approaches, from research to evaluation, to make a positive impact in these areas, including the use of conservation marketing as a tool to promote human-wildlife coexistence.” Diogo is currently an Oxford Martin Fellow at the University of Oxford, UK, where he focuses on the design and evaluation of behaviour change interventions to reduce demand for wildlife products, a key part of mitigating the threat of the illegal wildlife trade on wildlife populations. One of Diogo’s first social marketing projects focused on sea turtle conservation in São Tomé and Principe, a tiny island country in West Africa. Due to this work, as well as improved enforcement, poaching of sea turtles has been reduced by 90%. As Diogo looks forward to his work with the iSMA Board, he is keen to explore ways to foster
the growth of the community of social marketers working on biodiversity-related issues, and to promote information exchange between academics and practitioners working in social marketing, both through the literature and other non-formal channels. Diogo has been elected by the iSMA Board to the position of Vice President.

Please help us welcome Luca, Diogo, and Karis to our Board. We are thrilled to have their support and are excited about the impressive and diverse level of expertise they bring to our organization.


The International Social Marketing Conference 2018, organized by the Australian Association of Social Marketing (AASM) in collaboration with James Cook University (JCU), took place in Singapore 15-16 July and culminated with a doctoral colloquium on 17 July. A total of 77 paper submissions were received and 53 were accepted. The conference organizers thank individuals who submitted their work and those who participated in the different keynotes, special sessions, panel sessions, paper presentation sessions and in the doctoral colloquium.

A total of 70 delegates representing countries from Asia and the Pacific congregated to share knowledge and experiences in social marketing field in the region. On the first day participants were welcomed by Dr. Abhishek Bhati, Dean JCU Singapore, and Professor Lynne Eagle, JCU Australia, opening remarks by Bruce Gosper, Australian High Commissioner to Singapore; and keynotes by Bernard Harrison, former executive director of the Singapore Zoo and by Teo Ser Luck, Singapore parliamentarian and ex minister, introduced delegates to the
conference. The second day started with key notes by Marieke Bink, Cyclying without Age Singapore, and Choong Weng Wai, Associate Professor, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

The conference had special sessions covering the following topics: ethics in social marketing, creating and accessing value, synthesizing benchmarks and planning steps, macro social marketing, and one session dedicated to discuss about a regional social marketing association for the Asia-Pacific. A panel session was
organized to discuss critical issues in social change in the Asia-Pacific. Paper sessions covered the following themes:

  • Environment and sustainability
  • Advancing theory in social marketing
  • Individual group community and/or organizational wellbeing
  • Creating and accessing value
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Non-mainstream communities and groups
  • Trans-disciplinary research in social change
  • Innovative and new research methods in social marketing and social change
  • research
  • Policy legislation and upstream social marketing

The ISMC conferred two best paper awards to Taylor Willmott and Sharyn Rundle- Thiele for the paper “Advancing social marketing: A reciprocal 4-step theory application process (TITE)”, and Amy Wilson, Svetlana Bogomolova, Cathy Nguyen, Timothy Olds and Byron Sharp for the paper “How healthy habits grow: Expanding marketing empirical generalisations to physical activity”.

A doctoral colloquium was held on 17 July that consisted in presentations by PhD students and by discussions related to life as a PhD student. In the first part of the colloquium, three PhD students presented their work and received constructive feedback. In the second part facilitators provided insights on the following topics:
Supervision and supervisors, the publication game, communicating the research topic, research ontology and epistemology, issues with research methodology, and provided tips for managing the PhD.

The conference success has encouraged discussions to host smaller social marketing events in Singapore in the near future, before the next ISMC in 2020.


The 4th European Social Marketing Conference: Antwerp, 6-7 September 2018


It was a great pleasure to host the 4th European Social Marketing Conference in magnificent city of
Antwerp this year, The European Social Marketing Association is consistently surprised by the
enthusiasm, passion and diversity of work by communication and marketing specialists who take
part at each event. We always look forward to what is a fantastic event at the cutting edge of Social
Marketing theory and practice across Europe and the wider world. This year we received a record
number of paper submissions and yet again the impact, professionalism and level of work presented
continues to rise and undoubtedly helps enrich social marketing research and practice not only in
Europe but globally.

At this year’s event we peer reviewed over 115 academic and practice submissions resulting in 54
presentations and interactive sessions across two days presented by social marketing and behaviour
change professionals, governments and NGOs from 27 different countries.

At this time when Europe and the world face a large number of complex social problems and
increasing demand from citizens to be heard, we believe that this conference will be able
to provide some of the answers about how current social challenges can be addressed
effectively through processes of co-production, value creation and work with citizens.

Social marketing is a broad church that encompasses a range of disciplines all of whom are
concerned with using data and evidence to develop and deliver citizen focused effective and
efficient social programmes. This year’s European conference demonstrated how  experts and policy
makers are coming together to apply what we know and best practice form a range of specialist
areas. The conference also demonstrated how social marketing is being applied in an ever increasing
range of subjects. This year at the conference the use of social marketing principles was
demonstrated in fields as diverse as crime reduction, reducing Co2 emissions, active transport,
smoking and alcohol harm reduction, road safety , community cohesion and resilience, migration
and even for military purposes to reduce the harm form improvised explosive devices.

A number of key themes emerged from across the keynote presentations, workshops , posters and
break-out sessions. The array of best practice examples shared and evidence of what works
presented at the event together with some great presentations about how behavioural programme
should be structured highlighted three big take way points from the event.

  1. The added value of applying social marketing principles is being increasingly recognised and demanded by governments and key organisations around the world. Social marketing is being seen as a key set of organising principles under which the contributions from behavioural science, an economics, psychology, social planning and policy and implementation sciences can be harnessed and coordinated.

  2. Experimentation, sound study design and evaluation and learning from both success and failure are key to future progress. We need to get even smarter about the way we spread and speed up the uptake of good practice and stop interventions that are not working.

  3. In addition to systematic planning there is a need to ensure that all social programmes also adopt a systems perspective and seek to build coordinated multi sector responses to the complex and interrelated challenges that we face. This means investing in coalition building and stakeholder development and management. This also means focusing action upstream at policy development and selection as well as action directed at supporting individuals and selection as well as action directed at supporting individuals and communities.


Prof. Jeff French, CEO, SSM, Emeritus Professor Kings College London & Brighton University


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