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Evidence of IMC in social marketing

Jacinta Hawkins (Faculty of Business, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand)
Sandy Bulmer (School of Communication, Journalism & Marketing, College of Business, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)
Lynne Eagle (Bristol Business School, Bristol, UK)

Journal of Social Marketing

ISSN: 2042-6763

Article publication date: 11 October 2011




The purpose of this paper is to argue that integrated marketing communications (IMC) must be used in social marketing, like it is in commercial marketing, by illustrating that IMC principles are effective in social marketing contexts within an education setting. Specifically, the paper provides evidence of IMC being successfully used in the communication of school‐based health promotion activities within health promoting schools (HPS).


Depth interviews with principals and teachers at three case schools were conducted to investigate the communication of health promotion programmes within HPS. In total, 19 people participated in this study.


A key finding was that IMC principles are evident in the HPS philosophy of health promotion. That is, the extent to which health concepts are customer focused and integrated into school life; and, communication which is synergistic and based on stakeholder needs, has a significant impact upon achieving desired health promotion outcomes.

Research limitations/implications

This research explored communication within the specific context of HPS. To further explore the application of IMC in social marketing, the authors recommend that other social marketing contexts or cases be investigated.

Practical implications

The fact that IMC principles are relevant and effective when facilitating school‐based health promotion programmes implies that IMC would offer value to other social marketing contexts too.


The paper is unique in that we provide evidence of IMC used in a school‐based social marketing context. The context of an education setting for this research broadens existing understanding of how IMC can and should be used in social marketing. The research offers insights for social marketing practitioners seeking to improve their communications efforts.



Hawkins, J., Bulmer, S. and Eagle, L. (2011), "Evidence of IMC in social marketing", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 228-239.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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