This commentary aims to discuss the potential role of corporate social marketing and identify instances where corporate involvement in social marketing is appropriate. This argument is based on the rationale that there should be a focus on the social outcomes of initiatives rather than on which organisations are delivering the message.
The paper is conceptual and draws on previous marketing, social marketing and health-related literature to discuss the potential positive role of firms in social marketing.
The paper proposes that there are many instances where corporations can play a vital role in enhancing social outcomes, even though they too may benefit from these social marketing activities (defined as corporate social marketing). It is argued that corporate social marketing is not only appropriate but also may, in fact, be more effective than social marketing undertaken solely by non-profits or governments. However, it is also identified that there may be inappropriate corporate participation in social marketing.
Two typologies are put forward to assist in evaluating the impact of firm behaviour on society and the situations where corporate social marketing may be more appropriate. These typologies may assist in identifying where firms can play a valuable role in social marketing activities.
Use of the typologies proposed will assist in identifying where firms can play a valuable role in social marketing activities and bringing about social benefit.
The discussion of corporate involvement in social marketing generally has been positioned as negative and this paper identifies instances where corporate social marketing may not only be appropriate but also may, in fact, bring about better social outcomes than if the activities were undertaken by government or non-profits.
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