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Social advertisements for public health and epidemic dynamics: A study based on HIV/AIDS prevention television advertisements in four European countries

Beatriz Casais (School of Economics and Management, University of Minho, Portugal and Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave – IPCA, Portugal and IPAM Porto, Portugal and CiTUR, Portugal)
João F. Proença (Faculty of Economics and Management, University of Porto, Portugal)

Journal of Social Marketing

ISSN: 2042-6763

Article publication date: 24 October 2018

Issue publication date: 30 October 2018




The purpose of this paper is to examine health-related social advertisements to identify its use and evaluate its appropriateness to situational needs, such as epidemic dynamics and the context where it is implemented. The paper also discusses the barriers that policymakers face in creating these linkages.


In all, 375 national HIV/AIDS prevention television advertisements from France, Germany, Portugal and Italy were viewed and analyzed over time of production, exploring the sources, the target audiences and the messages delivered. This paper compares management choices with HIV epidemics in each country and their contextual profiles.


The findings of this paper indicate that social advertising concerned with HIV/AIDS prevention is commonly framed within public policies and does not usually target the most vulnerable and affected populations. Furthermore, social ads are reactive to epidemic dynamics. The existence of trade-offs between putting forward theoretical marketing recommendations and taking account of contextual fracturing issues or increasing stigma and discrimination are also considered.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is useful for public sector management because of the importance of evaluating the investments done to improve future strategies. The discussion about restrictions and concerns for policy-makers is important to improve management decisions.


This paper suggests the adoption of proactive public policies and proposes strategies to overcome the restrictions or concerns faced by policy-makers.



Author João F. Proença thanks the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT Portugal) for financial support to ADVANCE through the Multi-Year Funding Program for R&D Units.


Casais, B. and Proença, J.F. (2018), "Social advertisements for public health and epidemic dynamics: A study based on HIV/AIDS prevention television advertisements in four European countries", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 397-420.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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