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Reflecting on and planning Social Marketing in 2019

Reflecting on and planning Social Marketing in 2019 

Patrick Cook, President iSMA


Many people find the turn of the year is a time of reflection and planning. We at the International Social Marketing Association (iSMA) are no different—reflecting on the work of the past year while planning for 2019. Here’s a brief look back, and glance forward as we continue to pursue our vision: “envisioning a world in which social marketing is a widely valued and utilized approach to improving individual and social well-being.”

Over the past year, as we have worked to implement the direction provided to us by the different social marketing associations that came together at the World Social Marketing Conference in May, 2017, the Board of iSMA has:

  • Developed and agreed to a new constitution to govern our new relationship with each other as a “federation of equals” 
  • Finalized a business plan to focus our efforts over the next three years. 
  • Held our annual general meeting in March of 2018 and elected four new Board members and, in turn, expanded our Executive Committee with a new Treasurer and Vice President.
  • Supported our colleagues in both Africa and Latin America have laid the foundations for two new member associations, the Africa Social Marketing Association and the Latin American Social Marketing Association respectively. 
  • Played a key role in the Global Alliance for Social and Behaviour Change: Building Informed and Engaged Societies, a UNICEF-led initiative working to embed behavior and social change into all the programs funded by UN organizations and other bi- and multilateral funders being guided by the Sustainable Development Goals. Dr. Doug Evans of George Washington University and Dr. Jeff French, CEO of Strategic Social Marketing have been instrumental in ensuring that social marketing is well-represented in the evidence working group, and I have been helping with the infrastructure work group. 
  • Hosted 6 webinars, exploring topics from Integrating diversity and cultural competence in social Marketing to helping consumers make decisions about what to flush and what not to flush. 
  • Worked to secure new and improved member benefits with important resources for our community, including the Social Marketing Quarterly and the World Social Marketing Conference. 

Looking forward, we have much to do. For each step, we look for your input and suggestions. Here’s a preview of what’s coming up: 

  • A new website and database for iSMA, moving our old website to a more versatile, responsive design powered by a consolidated and streamlined database that will improve the experience for existing and prospective members to join our community of social marketing professionals.
  • Our 2019 annual general meeting coming up in March 2019 and elections for up to five new board members (so start thinking about how you can shape the future of social marketing) 
  • More webinars every two months from our colleagues around the world, led by our new webinar manager, Christene Jennings, who is taking over from our long-time webinar manager, Jay Kassirer. 
  • Co-sponsoring and hosting sessions during the World Social Marketing Conference in Edinburgh, UK, June 4 & 5. 
  • More resources and support for social marketers including a position paper on ethics in social marketing and a compilation of key references outlining social marketing evidence of effectiveness. 

And there is so much more. I hope you will take a moment to read the other articles in this newsletter and the ones coming up in 2019 that describe the amazing work of our member association and colleagues doing social marketing around the world. And, at any time on any topic, I invite you to send us your thoughts and recommendations at [email protected]. 

Volunteer Spotlight_Braden Occomore

There are some interesting and dedicated volunteers working behind the scenes at the International Social Marketing Association (iSMA) to promote the use of social marketing frameworks to address health challenges and other social issues around the globe.

Braden Occomore

Braden has been supporting iSMA for almost 2 years as a Website Content & Design Coordinator (Website Manager). He is a member of the iSMA Communications Team where he both manages content on the old website while building out the new website which is set to launch in the next few months. The new iSMA site will offer a fresh look and improved functionality for the iSMA member base to access a wealth of social marketing resources.

Braden, who hails from Burlington, Ontario in Canada has a command of Digital/IT with a global perspective. He now serves as a Business Process Expert for a global Hearing Aid Manufacturer and Retailer outside of Zurich, Switzerland and travels extensively for his business, Rotterdam being a frequent destination. His primary focus is in Marketing Automation and CRM Software (Customer Relationship Management).

Why Social Marketing for a Digital Expert? “I enjoy this field so much because it can bring about positive change that can have a lasting impact of people's lives and on society as a whole. Being able to drive behaviour change while also working with a group of extremely qualified and hard-working volunteers is fantastic. That's something that I want to be a part of.

Braden first learned about Social Marketing after taking a class at Griffith University, in Australia while working on a degree in Business Marketing. Prior to that, he had received an advanced diploma in Business Administration Marketing from Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. In addition, Braden felt he gained much insight into the field by attending the European Social Marketing Conference in Antwerp, Belgium. 

What’s next for Braden? “My goal is to gain as much knowledge as I can about Social Marketing theory and practice and pursue a certification. In addition to continuing to contribute to iSMA in my current capacity, I'm also planning to offer Digital Marketing Consulting in my spare time. Having worked in Digital Marketing for 8 years, I'd like to help make social marketing more digital in order to appeal to a wider audience.”

Of his experience working with iSMA, Braden says, “iSMA is a fantastic association of like-minded professionals who care deeply about helping others. Our volunteers dedicate so much time and energy and are so passionate in everything that we do. I feel privileged to be able to volunteer for such a great team and am very excited for what iSMA has planned for their Members in 2019. I highly recommend you become a Member if you haven't already done so.

We feel very lucky to have Braden’s unique contribution of digital expertise, which helps to promote and broaden Social Marketing practice, not to mention the time that he contributes to the organizational work. Please join us in thanking, Braden!

Braden's LinkedIn Profile:

Last Updated on Monday, February 25, 2019 03:37 PM
Decreasing Dog and Koala interactions: An Australian social marketing pilot

The Australian Koala population levels are declining. Dog attacks are the third most common cause of death, after tree clearing and vehicle strikes. At the 2019 USF Social Marketing Conference, Sharyn Rundle Thiel presented on a social marketing approach to reducing the koala mortality as a result of dog attacks. iSMA is sharing an overview of the fascinating program, “Leave It.” 


Australian Koala population levels are declining. Dog attacks (predation) are the third most common cause of death, after tree clearing and vehicle strikes. The need for greater community engagement led to a trial of social marketing by Redland City Council.  In 2017-18 Social Marketing @ Griffith undertook research to understand what would engage dog owners in the community to protect koalas from dog attacks.  

What we did

Co-creating a community program

A comprehensive program of research including a systematic literature review, community surveys, expert interviews and co-design sessions (the 6 step technique is explained online at was undertaken.  This research sought to gain a deep insight into how dog owners could be reached and motivated to participate in a pilot program.  Three key themes emerged to inform subsequent program planning and design.  

Program Build

Specifically the program needed to 1) be dog, not koala, focused; 2) offer pet owner training and support; and three 3) focus on the benefit to all wildlife species, not just koalas. As one co-design session participant noted: “We’re not just looking to save koalas; we’re looking at protecting other wildlife as well.” 

The social marketing pilot program was called Leave It.  Leave It aimed to inspire dog owners to enroll and participate in a four-week training program (product) to improve dog behaviors, as well as dog owner skills. All communication materials were entirely dog, and not wildlife, focused (see Trainings emphasized a series of behaviors, including sit, stay and leave it (wildlife aversion).  Leave It trainers had previously received training from a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPTD-KA) with experience in wildlife aversion training. The price for the training was $AUD150 for four sessions (price) run over a four-week period.  

Website Promoting the Leave It pilot program


Engaging community

Drawing on co-creation insights that indicated a desire for community events, Leave It was promoted via a community event called Dog Fest. Dog Fest offered a festival feel that included a variety of training demonstrations, displays and talks supported by displays and discount offers from pet retailers, food and drink retailers, and a series of fun competitions, e.g. best trick.  People registering on the day for the Leave It pilot program received a 20% discount. 

A Dog Fest Social Media Post



Data analysis indicated positive program outcomes.  For the dog owners who participated in the Leave It pilot program five of the 7 dog behaviors changed for the better: sit, stay, come back when called every time, wildlife aversion, and stay quiet on command. Dog Fest attracted over 1500 attendees, indicating a reach of nearly 10% of the 21,000 dog owners in the local council area. In a Dogfest visitor survey 90% reported a positive experience, and 91% reported they would attend Dogfest in 2019.

The pilot program was deemed a success and city wide roll out is now underway. 

 1. Australia Koala Foundation, “Interesting Facts”, accessed March 23, 2018, 

The Social Marketing Association of North America (SMANA) Holds Its Inaugural Social and Behavior Change Forum in Washington, DC

By Gerda Gallop-Goodman, SMANA member

The Social Marketing Association of North America (SMANA) held its inaugural Social and Behavior Change Forum on October 10, 2018 in partnership with the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change (BECC) Conference at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The theme of the forum: Leveraging the Intersections: Bringing together social issues, perspectives, and change agents to unlock today’s challenges, explored the intersections of health and the environment.

More than 65 attendees from across different behavior change sectors participated in the half-day event that began with a keynote address by Shannon Kraus, executive vice president at HKS Architects, on the role of design thinking in making meaningful change in our communities, health and healthcare. Through compelling examples, he showed the association between our health and the environment— where we live impacts how we live—and how design solutions can help improve our health. A panel discussion on unlocking today’s challenges in the area of food, included presentations on nutrition education interventions in Maryland schools, sustainable diets and the Meatless Monday Project, and reducing food waste/food recovery.

Selected presenters from Hager Sharp, Vanguard, and Rescue provided case studies on these timely social marketing in public health topics: increasing the quality of health care providers’ HPV vaccination recommendations, helping patients survive stroke, and social marketing strategies for preventing and reducing opioid misuse. A session of short presentations or “lightning talks” covered a diverse range of social and behavior change topics on urban transportation, financial savings, global conservation, sustainability and auto repair shops, and consumption behaviors and culture. And to close out the afternoon, participants had the opportunity to discuss issues and ideas generated from the forum as part of topic-specific roundtables on the environment, research, and health. Following the forum, attendees were invited to attend a networking happy hour to continue the conversation and meet other social marketing colleagues.

“No one of us can do this alone,” said Sandra Paredes, SMANA President, in her closing remarks. “This is about mobilizing our entire community. We’re trying to make a better world. We need to break out of our silos. The more we hear from each of us, the more we’ll stay connected.”

Entercom, a media and entertainment company, was the Innovator Sponsor of the forum. Caryn Ginsberg of Priority Visuals created graphic recordings from the presentations.

Last Updated on Friday, December 07, 2018 02:14 PM
6th Annual SPARKS Conference: A Brief Summary
Written by Nancy Lee   

 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!

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