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Development Called and Social Marketing Answered

By Patrick Cook & Craig Lefebvre, July 6, 2017

New York, NY -- From June 27 to June 29, two representatives from the International Social Marketing Association (iSMA) and its member associations met with more than 40 development and behavior change communication and marketing professionals from around the world at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in New York to develop a “global mechanism” for ensuring that communication professionals are at the table when planning, implementing, and evaluating development programs and initiatives.

Hosted by UNICEF and facilitated by The Communications Initiative, the two-day meeting was part of a more comprehensive process to advance the “scale and effectiveness of communication, media, social and behavior change strategies and actions related to local, national, regional, and international development priorities,” according to the foundational white paper, “Development Calling.”

Craig Lefebvre, architect and designer of public health and social change programs and former board member of iSMA, and Patrick Cook, current president of iSMA, represented the social marketing community during the meeting. The meeting was hosted by Rafael Obregon, Chief of the Communication for Development Section at UNICEF New York, and facilitated by Warren Meek, Executive Director of The Communication Initiative. Representatives from the BBC Media Action Network, Johns Hopkins University, Save the Children, UN Population Fund, the UN Environment Program, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Health Organization, among others, participated.

Prior to the meeting, representatives from iSMA’s member associations – the Australian Association of Social Marketing (AASM), the European Social Marketing Association (ESMA), the Pacific Northwest Social Marketing Association (PNSMA), the Social Marketing Association of North America (SMANA) – provided feedback and recommendations on the “Development Calling” white paper, developed by the initiative based on interviews, surveys, and discussions with more than 900 communication, marketing, and behavior change communication professionals. The other groups represented at the meeting also provided feedback and recommendations.

The goal of the meeting was to develop options and a plan for developing the “global mechanism.” Some options that were discussed as the focal points of this mechanism included (a) developing programming standards; (b) developing training standards; (c) finding a common and prominent voice to influence national, regional and global policies; (d) creating a consensus around a credible and compelling evidence base for the effectiveness of the field; (e) raising funding levels; and (f) providing ways to increase civil society engagement in consultation and decision-making processes.

Throughout the two days, participants worked to find common ground and shared purpose among the communication fields to better represent ourselves as one community to policymakers and decision makers who are designing, approving, and funding development programs and initiatives. Variously known as behavior change communication, development communication, media, social marketing, and social and behavior change, the representatives of all the fields at the table in New York agreed that the one thing that bound us together was the belief – and evidence base – for ensuring that communication professionals are always a part of development programs and initiatives to ensure the highest probability of success.

At the end of the meeting no final decisions were made about any of the options noted earlier – though civil engagement, increased funding and policy voice were favored goals. The participants agreed to task a smaller group to develop an action plan and, ideally, a brand for the global mechanism, to advance the effort and seek support from the UN and bilateral funders (e.g., USAID). Mr. Obregon, the initiative’s advocate at UNICEF, will help to advance the plan through the approval process at the UN. Both Craig and Patrick have volunteered to be a part of the smaller workgroup developing the action plan and will report back to the iSMA and its member associations.

For more information about the initiative and next steps, please feel free to contract Patrick Cook, [email protected], or Craig Lefebvre, [email protected].

Call for Papers – International Social Marketing Conference (ISMC)

Broadening Cultural Horizons in Social Marketing

The International Social Marketing Conference (ISMC) aims to bring together social change agents from across Australia in a collaboration to share the latest tools & approaches to changing behaviors for societal wellbeing.

The conference with the theme “Broadening Cultural Horizons in Social Marketing” will be held July 15-16, 2018 in Singapore. A Doctoral colloquium will take place on the 17th of July.


  • Call for Papers: June 2017
  • Call for Reviewers: June 2017
  • Submissions Due: November 2017
  • Final Papers: January 2018
  • Conference: 15 - 16 July 2018
  • Doctoral Colloquium: 17 July 2018

Learn more about the conference at

Last Updated on Thursday, June 29, 2017 04:56 AM
Save the Date – International SBCC Summit 2018

Featuring Entertainment-Education (SBCC2/EE6)

The second International Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) Summit, featuring Entertainment-Education will take place on April 16 – 20, 2018 in Bali, Indonesia.

During the event, participants will engage with an international network, share their work, promote evidence-based SBCC tools and methodologies, and partake in skills-building workshops.

The Summit will be hosted by a consortium of international and local partners including the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, The Communication Initiative, Soul City and UNICEF, among others.

For more information, please visit:

Last Updated on Thursday, June 29, 2017 04:57 AM
The 2nd UK Social Marketing Conference, 14 September 2017

Queen Mary University, London

It has been a decade since the creation of the National Social Marketing Centre (NSMC) in the UK and a wide range of valuable social intervention, policy improvement and evaluation has been conducted in those ten formative years. Social Marketing and Behaviour Change programmes have taken root across the UK and are having more and more of a demonstrative positive impact on communities across a number of sectors. However, we believe that the journey has just begun, that it is time to reflect and learn from the past decade while planning for a positive and competitive future.

As key partners of the first UK Social Marketing Conference, Queen Mary University, the European Social Marketing Association, NSMC, Strategic Social Marketing and Fuse Events invite you to join us at the first cross sector event for change makers across the UK in nearly ten years. 

Confirmed Speakers:

  • David Evans – The Campaign Company
  • Ellen O’Donoghue – Public Health England
  • Nick Temple – Social Enterprise UK
  • Dr. Christine Domegan – NUI Galway
  • Gary Wootten – Hitch
  • Pauline Aylesbury – Scottish Government

Discount code for iSMA members: ISMAUK17

Find out more at

Regional Association for Latin America


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.

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