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Timeless principles of social marketing communication: a comparison of the Spanish flu and COVID-19 pandemic communication in South Korea

Seongwon Choi (Department of Management, California State University Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Thomas Powers (Department of Marketing, Industrial Distribution and Economics, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA)

Journal of Social Marketing

ISSN: 2042-6763

Article publication date: 13 October 2022

Issue publication date: 2 January 2023

108

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to highlight the core tenets of social marketing communications in managing acute infectious disease outbreaks based on a historical review of two major pandemics in South Korea.

Design/methodology/approach

Two researchers reviewed newspapers, journal papers, archived documents and other historical materials to examine social marketing communications used in both Spanish flu and COVID-19 pandemics by South Koreans.

Findings

Despite two events being a century apart and the social context of two eras being starkly different, behavioral recommendations for both pandemics were nearly identical. Two major lessons arose from the review. First, a full disclosure of the pandemic-related information is important. Second, proper management of conflicting information is highly desired as an integral part of pandemic social marketing communication campaigns.

Originality/value

Understanding the importance of social marketing in raising public awareness, this paper provides a historical comparison between the 1918–1919 Spanish flu and COVID-19, focusing on the social communications used during these two pandemics. The paper contributes to the health marketing literature as well as to practice by drawing implications relevant to social marketing communication used in disease pandemics.

Keywords

Citation

Choi, S. and Powers, T. (2023), "Timeless principles of social marketing communication: a comparison of the Spanish flu and COVID-19 pandemic communication in South Korea", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 82-99. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSOCM-03-2022-0059

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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