To read this content please select one of the options below:

Social branding framework to address smoking among alternative peer crowd teens

Carolyn Ann Stalgaitis (Department of Research, Rescue Agency, San Diego, California, USA)
Jeffrey Washington Jordan (Rescue Agency, San Diego, California, USA)
Mayo Djakaria (Rescue Agency, San Diego, California, USA)
Daniel J. Saggese (Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, Richmond, Virginia, USA)

Journal of Social Marketing

ISSN: 2042-6763

Article publication date: 27 May 2021

Issue publication date: 26 July 2021




This paper aims to describe the Social Branding framework, which uses lifestyle branding to change behaviour within psychographically-defined target audiences. Syke, a Social Branding programme to reduce cigarette use within the higher-risk alternative teen peer crowd in Virginia, USA, is presented as a case study with evaluation results.


Social Branding first creates an authentic lifestyle brand that appeals to a psychographically-defined audience. Once sociocultural authority is built, the lifestyle brand introduces tailored behavioural messaging using targeted messaging channels, relying on experiential marketing events and in-group influencers to align the desired behaviour with the audience’s social identity and values. The evaluation consisted of annual cross-sectional surveying (2011–2014; n = 2,266) on brand recall, liking, message comprehension and current smoking. Among those with recall, the prevalence of liking/comprehension categories (disliked and did not understand; liked or understood; liked and understood) and of smoking within categories was compared across years using chi-square tests. Multivariate logistic regression explored liking/comprehension as a predictor of smoking.


Recall, liking and comprehension were significantly higher in 2014 than in 2011, as was the proportion who both liked and understood Syke. Those who liked and understood Syke had half the odds of current smoking compared to those who disliked and did not understand it.


Syke reached, was liked by and was understood by the target audience. The Social Branding framework effectively appeals to and reaches higher-risk audiences, with learnings applicable to other behaviours and populations.



The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY) funded and supported this research. Mr Saggese is an employee of VFHY and was involved in study design and manuscript development; VFHY was not involved in data collection and analysis. Ms Stalgaitis, Mr Jordan and Ms Djakaria are employed by Rescue Agency, the campaign and research contractor for VFHY for the campaign evaluated here. The authors would like to thank Jensen Saintilien for his assistance with reviewing the literature and Shiloh Beckerley, Ashley Smith and Sharyn Rundle-Thiele for their feedback on the analysis and manuscript.


Stalgaitis, C.A., Jordan, J.W., Djakaria, M. and Saggese, D.J. (2021), "Social branding framework to address smoking among alternative peer crowd teens", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 189-203.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles