Coverage of social marketing efforts in the mainstream media


Michael Basil, University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, AB T1K 3M4 Canada.



  • How well known is the field of social marketing? Given the recent rise to prominence of social media, could there be name confusion between “social marketing” and “social media marketing?” To what extent do people believe that social change efforts are coercive or reflect a “nanny state?” We use a content analysis of newspaper coverage as a measure of public opinion to assess these issues. To investigate how much coverage social marketing efforts receive and how these efforts are portrayed in the mainstream media, a content analysis of the 10 largest circulation newspapers in the USA was conducted. A search examined the term “social marketing.” The results show that there is generally very limited coverage of social marketing. In fact, the term “social marketing” is currently being used primarily to describe social media marketing efforts. The results also show that there is a considerable amount of criticism of social change efforts, especially those with structural or “upstream” efforts. Finally, the likelihood of criticism depends on the orientation of the newspaper (with the Chicago Sun-Times and the New York Times more typically supportive and the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal more critical of these efforts).

Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.