Social marketing has come of age. Today, we are a legitimate discipline with a wealth of empirical evidence that manifestly demonstrates the ability to bring about behaviour changes for the greater good. As social marketers, we are rapidly expanding the horizons, with a growing interest in the labyrinth of systems that influence the chosen social causes. We have become brave and bold, but is the study now running the risk of romanticising the work and ourselves? It is time to recalibrate, to take stock and to address the elephants in the social marketing room.
Expanding on my Change 2020 Driving Systems Change panel presentation, this viewpoint article is a provocation, a think piece, centred around two observed phenomena.
The first phenomenon observed is the many identities of the contemporary social marketer – hackers, change agents, heroes, political power brokers and master puppeteers. The second phenomenon observed is the accelerated interest in systems thinking for which the author propose three preconditions are needed – an awareness of the system(s); an acknowledgement that this study is a part of the system(s) and the need to decolonise social marketing.
This article poses challenging questions but offers no solutions as to how social marketers should, could or do square up our blind spots, make peace with our paradoxes or unblinker the views. Not only would it be naïve to proffer solutions but it would also stifle the growth of you, the reader, in your journey to becoming an integrated person and woke social marketing professional.
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