Spare Change

making a difference with social marketing
by Nedra Kline Weinreich

File this under "What were they thinking?" What marketing genius decided it would be a good idea to connect the dots between the tobacco industry and one of the largest fast food chains? With Fast Food Nation and Supersize Me highlighting the unhealthiness of things like fries and hamburgers -- and attacking fast food and obesity as the next smoking epidemic -- why would Burger King possibly want to evoke images of the Marlboro Man now? I have a feeling this agency in Germany won't be working for BK much longer.

The ads remind me of an old Truth campaign billboard:

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links for 2006-05-27
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Can a PSA deter would be suicide bombers in Iraq? I'm dubious, if they are trying to win them over by showing them the human consequences of their actions. That approach will only confirm for the jihadists the effectivenesss of bombs in accomplishing what they set out to do. Better than appealing to their great love of humanity might be to approach them via their religious values, perhaps by having respected Muslim leaders speak out against the practice and provide quotes from the Koran that support their position. I fear that the TV ad described in the article will connect with many Iraqis, but not the ones they need to reach.
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The truth campaign to mobilize youth against the tobacco industry has a new website out with the very kid-friendly name of whudafxup. Okay, parents might not like it, but that only increases its appeal to the teens the campaign is trying to reach. The newly changed website features a character named Derrick, who has wacky hair and glasses, kind of like youth favorite Napoleon Dynamite. The website is cleverly done and worth poking around.
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From Britt Bravo, some information about the upcoming NetSquared Conference:
On May 30-31st in San Jose, CA the NetSquared Conference will convene early adopters, technologists, corporations, philanthropists, and nonprofit and non-governmental leaders to discuss and take concrete steps towards using social web tools like blogging, vlogging, tagging and podcasting for social change.

You can participate in the conference remotely in 3 ways:

1. Participate in the NetSquared chatroom where speakers like Mike Linksvayer of Creative Commons, Scott Heiferman of and Robyn Deupree of Bloglines will be sharing info. and answering questions.

2. Chat it up in the Conference Hallway chat room. We're using for both chats which is super easy and user-friendly.

3. Post a question to be asked at a conference session, or write a blog post to start the conversation online. Just peruse the conference sessions (link below) and click on a theme and session topic that interests you. At the bottom of the session description you can add your question or blog post.

Also, we will have folks recording the conference for you on our

and vlog:

so you don't have to miss a moment!

For more information contact
The remote conference (live chat with speakers from the conference) has a couple of potentially interesting sessions for health-oriented social marketers including:

5/30 9 am (PDT) Judith Feder on "Health care and web 2.0 patient communities"

5/31 12 noon Enoch Choi of Palo Alto Medical Foundation on "Tech Tools in Medicine: Personal Health Records, Mobile Devices, Blogging,Podcasting, Health Search & Tagging @ Google Co-op"

Other sessions focus on additional ways to use technology for change, whatever the issue you are working on. I'm looking forward to seeing the reports from the sessions.
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It's near impossible to miss all the hype about American Idol, what with the final showdown happening tonight and tomorrow. While I am not an avid viewer, I've seen it a few times and might even watch tonight, along with at least 31 million others. An article in this weekend's Wall Street Journal discussed the rampant product placement in the show, which does not seem to diminish the number of viewers tuning in. By the 2004 season, viewers were exposed to a total of 3,200 product placement occurrences, according to Nielsen Media Research -- everything from the Coke cups sitting in front of each judge to the Ford commercials featuring the Idol contestants and other plugs.

This article, plus a passing reference I heard that mentioned that the second runner up who was voted off last week, Elliott Yamin, is diabetic and 90% deaf in one ear, sparked some more thoughts about social marketing product placement on TV. Apparently, Yamin wears an insulin pump and has talked about his diabetes on the show. What an amazing opportunity to get out information about diabetes and hearing loss -- as well as providing a positive role model who is managing his health effectively. With a 30-second ad on Wednesday's show going for about $1.3 million, it's too bad that Yamin is not in the final two where he could talk more about things like diabetes prevention or management to get the value of that kind of reach.

Contestants on American Idol develop legions of rabid fans, and Yamin is no exception. In fact, some of his fans have started a fundraising campaign with proceeds going to the American Diabetes Association. The ADA should have jumped on this increase in awareness about diabetes to get their messages out to Yamin fans (or as one fan blog calls them "Yaminions"), but I could find nothing on their website about him.

How else might social marketers work with American Idol to add their "products" to the long list of other products being promoted on the show? In the show's interviews and mini-documentaries about the contestants, might they highlight positive behaviors they engage in like eating healthy food, working out, wearing their seat belts, flossing their teeth, wearing a hat in the sun, etc? Give each contestant an apple after their performance? Show the people who are voted off using positive coping strategies to deal with the stress? I would like to think that the producers of American Idol might be amenable to working in some sort of positive health or social issues to the show, given that they are not wanting for money-producing sponsors. Hmmm, there's a thought for next season.

By the way, HitWise predicts that Taylor Hicks will win, based on the volume of online search results on his name versus competitor Katherine McPhee. Guess we'll see Wednesday night.
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links for 2006-05-23
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The FEMA for Kidz Rap:
Disaster . . . it can happen anywhere,
But we've got a few tips, so you can be prepared
For floods, tornadoes, or even a 'quake,
You've got to be ready - so your heart don't break.

Disaster prep is your responsibility
And mitigation is important to our agency.

People helping people is what we do
And FEMA is there to help see you through
When disaster strikes, we are at our best
But we're ready all the time, 'cause disasters don't rest.


It also comes with a handy audio performance of the rap so that you too can kick it at school assemblies and bar mitzvahs.

via Atlas Shrugs
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Eric Mattson at MarketingMonger takes the reins this week as the host of the Carnival of Marketing. While you're there, check out some of the podcasts he's posted as part of his quest to conduct 1,000 interviews with marketers and other interesting people. I'm scheduled to be interviewed in June and will let you know when that podcast is available.

I especially liked the post by Jack Yoest reminding us that something as low-tech and relatively inexpensive as a printed calendar can be a very effective marketing tool. He runs the numbers for us:

Assume a cost of $3.00 per calendar. For every 100 calendars sent to a client:

An estimated 50% of the calendars will be hung up on the end-users' wall.
A calendar is viewed five times per day per person.
A calendar is viewed by 1.5 persons per day.
A calendar is hung in an office open 5 days per week,
50 weeks per year.

I'll the math, if you don't mind.

100 X .5 X 5 X 1.5 X 5 X 50 = 93,750
If you would allow me a +/- 10% variance, the campaign could have 100,000 impressions for $300. (Marketers always round up.) Or .003 cents per impression. Cost would be a penny for three viewings. Cheap eyeballs.

Calendars have the potential for both raising awareness and reinforcing those daily behaviors that we're often trying to promote in social marketing. With attractive graphics portraying your issue each month (or why not one of those chunky daily calendars?), you can portray the benefits of adopting your healthy or socially beneficial behaviors. You can provide monthly or daily tips to keep your audience motivated, help them remember to do what they are supposed to do, or help them think about the issue in a new way. Even if they get so used to seeing the calendar that they start tuning it out, they will get a new infusion of your message when they have to turn the page each month. And when they are ready to take action, they'll know exactly where to find your organization's contact information. A client of mine combined their annual report with a 12-month calendar that started from the back page of the publication, killing the proverbial two birds (which is ironic given that they are an environmental organization!). Now's the time to start thinking about how you will get your message out in 2007 -- start collecting ideas, tips and days/weeks/months on which relevant observances are held (e.g., May is Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month, this is Schizophrenia Awareness Week, and Thursday May 25 will be National Missing Children's Day).

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Okay, I'll admit it. I spent much of the night exploring Second Life, a virtual world that combines 3-D graphics, social interaction, events, commerce and entertainment. After reading a post from Marc Sirkin at npMarketing Blog about how the American Cancer Society had done a virtual walk in Second Life, I was intrigued by the social marketing possibilities of using SL and other games for health and social change. I also read about an SL area called Camp Darfur, which is a virtual model of an abandoned refugee camp that you can "walk" around and learn more about the situation, pictured here.

So, I signed up for a free account to take a look-see myself around Second Life. Though it took an awfully long time to set up my avatar (digital persona that you can completely customize with face/body/clothes, etc) and to figure out how to get around, I was able to do a bit of exploring to at least have an idea of how it works (when I wasn't accidentally hurtling myself off the path and down a grassy knoll).

I stopped by a depression support group, where a group of what appeared to be mostly women were seated on cushions in a circle. It seemed like much of the conversation was standard chatroom chit-chat, but the human connection was perhaps what the participants were looking for. I was not able to do much more, given the amount of time I had and my lack of navigational prowess, but I'm looking forward to further exploration because I think the virtual world holds a lot of promise. The possibilities are endless: virtual one-on-one counseling, conferences, protests, walk-a-thons, benefit concerts, education centers, contests, etc.

I have also been thinking about games as a social marketing strategy since a colleague went to the Games for Health conference at USC a couple of weeks ago. Liz Losh of VirtualPolitik also attended the conference and describes the different applications that have been used in this area. These include:
  • A game called Re-Mission, which helps kids with cancer to visualize blasting the cancer cells inside them
  • Virtual reality treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, such as for 9/11 WTC survivors
  • Carmen's Bright Ideas, an interactive multimedia computer program to teach a problem-solving methodology through the story of Carmen, mother of a 9-year-old son, recently diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, and a 5-year-old daughter
  • Using exergaming like Dance Dance Revolution to promote physical activity
An extensive list of online and video games geared toward promoting health and wellness (and other "entertaining games with non-entertainment goals" can be found at Social Impact Games. For more on games for public diplomacy, take a look at this post by Micki Krimmel at WorldChanging.

Another related conference is coming up in New York -- the Games for Change conference -- that is part of the Serious Games Initative that sponsored the Games for Health conference. Here is what they say about why we should be paying attention to this medium for change:

Videogames are increasingly ubiquitous. More than half of all Americans play them and for college students it's more than 70%. Games have surpassed Hollywood box office revenues for the third year in a row. Last year's figures: games' $10B to Hollywood's $9.4B. And as this technology matures, there is a new trend emerging: harnessing the power of this popular medium for more "serious purposes". Fighting poverty. Educating and inspiring young cancer patients. Training protesters in peaceful resistance to oppressive regimes. Fostering leadership skills in inner city youth. Exploring the tricky terrain between civil rights and airport security. Treating debilitating childhood diabetes. Understanding the human rights crisis in Darfur. The list goes on.

How can organizations use games?

    1. win the hearts and minds of their constituents
    2. promote awareness
    3. educate their audience
    4. and even directly provide services

Digital video games provide a platform that is highly engaging, challenging, empowering and educational by nature.

So, given that this is something that social marketers should pay attention to, how do we make sure we do it well? And how do we avoid the unintended consequences such as reducing the amount of physical activity people get when they play these games? I always had mixed feelings about the video games at the Verb campaign's website, which has as its goal encouraging kids to get outside and play (and which is sponsoring print ads that say "Give your thumbs a rest. Play for real.").

Here are some ideas for how social marketers should consider using games:
  • In-game advertising - your message must be relevant to the content of the game and enhance the experience to be effective (e.g., physical activity messages in a basketball game or sober driving messages in a car racing game)
  • Providing skills - like Bronkie the Bronchiosaurus for asthma management
  • Facilitating empathy - like Darfur is Dying - where you play the role of a Darfuri refugee
  • Raising awareness - like Heart Sense - for heart attack awareness
  • Encouraging compliance with medical regimens - like the GlucoBoy, a glucose meter that can be inserted into a GameBoy
  • Using virtual reality to simulate real-life situations - like anti-phobia therapy
  • Engaging in desired behaviors - for physical therapy or exergaming
While digital games cannot and should not be used for all issues, they have great potential for engaging people and motivating them to take action. Should you explore how you can use them in your own program?
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Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion offers a model for thinking about how to use both old and new media together for maximum advantage:
The Magic "T" of Marketing is really simple to understand and use. Basically you leverage the mainstream media world for what it's best for - big reach. And you use new media to develop a deep level of engagement by conversing with a very narrow slice of your audience. This taps into two big marketing needs - reach and engagement.
An astute commenter noted that the "T" should ideally turn into an "I" because by reaching deep to evangelists, they will spread the word at the bottom to their own constituencies.

But don't forget that, just as important as having people hear your message, is making sure that the message itself is effective. If the message that's spreading is ineffective in bringing about the desired behavior -- or worse, negative -- the Magic "T" is not going to help you.
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Fard Johnmar at HealthCareVox discusses the ways blogs and bulletin boards can be used to foster discussion and community around health issues.

He concludes that
Bulletin boards are a great way to forge close, vibrant virtual communities of people who share common medical conditions or healthcare-related interests. Blogs are an ideal means of educating readers, shaping dialogue and aggregating diverse commentary on a range of topics.
In the rush to take advantage of new media technologies, don't forget the oldies but goodies like bulletin boards that have been around since the Internet was nothing but a bunch of BBSes.
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Here's an ad from an optician in India with a graphic that says it all without spelling it out for you. Immediately you can see who the target audience is and what the very salient benefit is to them of using the product. What's not as well done is the tagline "Over 53 years of eye care" in a tiny font that might not be seen by those who need the product. Beautiful picture though.

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links for 2006-05-17
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links for 2006-05-16
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Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend. Come inside, come inside...

Before we move on to our tentful of amazing marketing acts for your entertainment and edification, let us pay homage to the lessons we can learn from those quintessential marketers of the past -- the carnival sideshow promoters:
  • The sideshows had what Seth Godin would call a remarkable product (though definitely not politically correct today!) -- unusual people (siamese twins, the dogfaced boy, the alligator man), amazing acts (sword swallowers, fire eaters) or strange artifacts (mummies, elephant skeletons). These were things that people did not see every day and that were so intriguing that they were willing to pay to get a look. What is unusual and different about your product?
  • To entice people to buy a ticket, large colorful canvas banners were hung on the front of the tent depicting the wonders to be found inside. They also hung bills, or advertising posters, around the town. Make your product attractive and your advertising hard to miss.
  • Many shows featured an outside talker (often erroneously called a barker), who stood on a small stage in front of the tent doing a sales pitch -- the spiel. You have to grab their attention!
  • Sometimes the pitch would include a "bally," or a free show outside to attract a crowd of potential patrons. They also used a teaser curtain that let people on the midway see only the reactions of the crowd to pique their curiosity so they would pay the admission to see what everyone is looking at. Give your potential customers a way to try out your product before they buy -- but leave them wanting more.
  • They often planted shills in the crowd, who would pretend to buy a ticket in order to entice others to follow them. Make your potential customers feel like everyone's using your product.
Sorry, we don't have any cotton candy, ferris wheels or bearded ladies, but we do have seven of the best marketing posts from throughout the blogosphere. Move along through the midway and take a look.

Marc Sirkin at npMarketing Blog writes about Fourth Place Marketing -- extending the idea of "third place" communal meeting areas outside of home and work like Starbucks to cyberspace. How can we work with the virtual self-sustaining communities like MySpace, YouTube, etc?

Eric Mattson at Marketing Monger offers a podcast of his interview with Joe Waters of Boston Medical Center, who writes about cause marketing in his Selfish Giving blog. Listen to the interview to learn more about how cause marketing can be used as a win-win strategy for both the business and the nonprofit partners.

I loved the report at Selfish Giving about the fleet of cement trucks that bear the logos of various local nonprofit organizations -- everything from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the American Heart Association to smaller organizations, like the Buddy Dog Humane Society. This is a great way to build goodwill with the community for a very small investment.

Josh Cohen at Multiple Mentality discusses how Starbucks is trying to make itself the generic name for coffee (a la Kleenex), by making coffee into an experience rather than just a drink.

James D. Brausch says that Split Testing Sucks, and offers us a way of analyzing a sample of other people's ads to see what kind of marketing approaches work best.

Kavit Haria at Awareness and Consciousness talks about his experience with building his musicians' coaching business through developing relationships.

And from Houtlust, one of my favorite blogs highlighting social marketing campaigns from around the world, take a look at a powerful Australian outdoor advertising campaign raising awareness of the plight of homeless children.

Thank you for coming. Don't forget to get your hand stamped on your way out if you'd like to return later. And check out the Carnival of Marketing next week when it will be hosted by Marketing Monger. Send your submissions over to eric at

I would also like to pose a challenge to the brilliant marketing minds who read this post. How can we do a better job of spreading the word about the Carnival of Marketing across the blogosphere so that we get a wide range of participation and readership? Please leave comments with your suggestions.

And finally, happy Mother's Day to all of my fellow mothers out there. Hope you had a good one!
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links for 2006-05-12
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You still think that cell phones are just for making phone calls? Oh ho ho! What an antiquated notion! While I have to admit that I don't use my own cell phone for much other than placing calls and checking the time, many other people use their phones for text messaging, taking pictures, downloading music and keeping their rolodex.

Commercial marketers have been using this medium to reach out to their audiences and to make it easy for them to respond to marketing pitches. Social marketers are starting to find ways to use mobile technology for health and social change as well.

USA Today describes a new sex information and advice service offered to youth by the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Using text messaging, the users can request information on everything from what to do if the condom broke to whom to call "if ur feeling down ... like u wanna xcape ur life."

Similarly, in Ireland, young people offered illegal drugs can find out the effects they can have on their life or health within seconds by texting the name of the drug to the 24-hour service.

Sprint is offering a new product called MyFoodPhone, which allows subscribers (for $9.99/month) to upload pictures taken with their phone of the food they eat, along with logging data such as weight, exercise, and calories burned to an online journal. Once a week, subscribers receive a video clip from a nutrition advisor providing feedback on their eating habits, based on the data in their Visual Food Journal.

The Canadian Diabetes Association has partnered with a company that offers a product called MemoText. This product "turns all your telephones into a personal health reminder machine." After pre-scheduling reminders online, the service will either send a text message or turn your note into a voice call to any phone. This could be used to remind yourself or your loved ones (particularly aging parents) to take medications or test blood glucose at the same time(s) each day.

Rohit Bhargava recently listed some ideas for how companies could be using text messaging to make their services more convenient and time-efficient. His focus was on things like sending a text message to page people when their table is ready at a restaurant or when the cable repairman is on his way, reducing the time spent waiting around for service.

What are some other ways you might be able to take advantage of mobile technology? How about creating additional content that people can access by text messaging a number you include in your advertising? Providing ringtones of songs with health/social messages? Disseminating real-time emergency information in case of a disaster? Mobilizing large numbers of people to rally, meet or call their legislators?

This is only the beginning of what we will be doing with our cellphones in the next few years.

UPDATE: Just came across this report (via the MIT Advertising Lab) about a new technology being used with French billboards that call location-enabled cell phones with additional information about their products. People opt into the program and specify on what types of products they would like to receive messages.
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Above The Influence - Above ItThe Above the Influence website created by Fleishman-Hillard for the Office of National Drug Control Policy's Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has just won a Webby Award in the youth category. Take a look at it as an excellent example of a social marketing campaign using the internet to reach a youth audience.
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Next Sunday we will be celebrating Mother's Day with a very special Carnival of Marketing hosted right here at Spare Change. You are invited to submit your marketing-related blog posts (especially anything related to mothers or social marketing) to me (weinreich at by Saturday night 5/13. Per carnival rules, I will be selecting seven of my favorite submissions and posting them here.

You can check out this week's Carnival of Marketing at the Fast Growth Blog.
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links for 2006-05-02
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