Market and Media in a Global Context

Market and Media in the Global Context


Behavior or collective control is the major determinant of people’s health, as lifestyle risk factors are the leading cause of death across the globe. Various business players are increasingly using different marketing strategies to lure buyers, even in products that expose an individual to risks such as tobacco (Donovan & Carter, 2003). However, to counteract the effects of marketing used by businesses, public health and safety campaigns are using de-marketing strategies to affect the behavior change of consumers. Traditionally, health information was being conveyed on a one-to-one setting, especially between a doctor and patient (Donovan, 2011). But the emergence of modern communication technologies and the internet has led to the easy accessibility of mass media, which was only reached by a few people (Cheng, Kotler & Nancy Lee, 2010). As a result, health practitioners and health organizations have come up with new ways of providing health information and persuading people to adopt healthy behaviors.

Therefore, this paper focuses on the de-marketing strategies used in public health and safety campaign to influence the behavioral change. It mainly focuses on the de-marketing strategies that emphasize on the emotional appeal, especially fear appeal that is required to adopt the recommendable behavior. Secondly, the paper compares and contrast campaigns designed to discourage smoking, especially among young people in the world. The campaigns that are used in this paper include “Truth” and the “Smoking Kid” that were used across timeframe. Campaigns are used to illustrate how the anti-tobacco messages changes overtime and the reason why they change. Therefore, the paper concentrates on the de-marketing strategies and campaigns against tobacco use.

Health and Safety De-marketing Strategies and Behavioral Change

Health organization and practitioners have used media campaign for decades to affect different health behaviors in the global population. For a long time, the campaigns have mainly focused on tobacco use and prevention of heart diseases (Wakefield, Loken & Hornik, 2010). However, lately, the de-marketing campaigns have been expanded to include areas like alcohol and hard drug use, sex-related behaviors, and cancer prevention and screening in mass population. Health and safety campaigns utilize both indoor and outdoor media like TV, radio, print media, billboards, and posters (Wakefield, Loken & Hornik, 2010). The modern de-marketing campaigns include new technologies such as the internet and cell phones that are now used by a large number of people across the world.

The health and safety campaigns majorly use mass media because of their ability to convey well defined behaviorally focused information to a large number of people for a long period of time (Wakefield, Loken & Hornik, 2010). They have also been utilized because they are cost-effective, as they have low cost per head. Although the media has helped in affecting the behavioral change of the target population, some of the campaigns have not achieved the intended objectives and have backfired due to poor de-marketing strategies (Mahoney, 2010). Studies have found that the use of inappropriate researched format like boring factual message cannot lead to behavioral change.

Health and safety campaigns are aimed at directly affecting the target population by invoking their cognitive and emotional responses. They are aimed at influencing the decision-making process at a personal level, which may lead to behavioral change Pechmann, C., & (Reibling, 2000). The campaigns are expected to affect the behavioral change by eliminating the obstacles to change and encouraging people to recognize unhealthy social norms. The behavioral change is also achieved through the indirect means whereby the media sets the agenda, which is followed by interpersonal discussions towards altering the undesirable health behavior. The mass media campaigns can also initiate public discussion on various health issues that can influence a change in public policy. Consequently, an effective public health policy can limit an individual behavior, leading to behavioral change (Reibling, 2000). Therefore, health and safety campaigns use direct and indirect media campaigns to affect the behavior change of a large number of people.

The de-marketing strategies utilize behavioral, persuasive and exposure theories to affect behavioral change among individuals and large number of people (Evans, 2006). The de-marketing strategies use social cognitive theory by focusing on response consequences to change behavior of individuals. According to the persuasion theory, that is also common in the de-marketing campaigns, individuals must be involved in message elaboration in order to achieve long term and sustainable persuasions (Evans, 2006). The proponents of exposure theory also argue that intensity and long term exposure to a message lead to behavioral change. Therefore, the campaigns use theories to determine the behavioral determinants that need to be modified. For instance, in order to affect behavioral change in the consumption of food that causes obesity, safety and health campaigners use behavioral theory to determine the link between the behavioral determinants of poor eating habits and junk foods that are consumed.

The campaigns also use Health Belief Model (HBM) to clearly understand the chances of an individual to perform a health protective behavior. The model concentrates on the three main factors that indicate the probability of an individual to perform a specific behavior (Sachs, 2010). The three factors include the perceived risks; the perceived effectiveness of the behavior by considering benefits and barriers; the general health motivation of an individual; and cues to actions that show immediate situation determinants. The HBM model incorporates exchange theory, as it relies on the exchange of inappropriate behavior for that of the desired behavior.

Many marketers argued that the primary operational mechanism of campaigns is based on exchange theory, as individuals and groups always have resources that they want to exchange to receive certain benefits (Sachs, 2010). Exchanges occur in various levels such as: individuals or groups can be threatened to exchange; people can be coerced to exchange; they can be commanded or they can voluntarily accept to exchange. Therefore, health and safety campaigns utilize different levels of exchange to influence the behavioral change of the target population.

Some of the specific strategies that are used in the de-marketing strategies to influence behavioral change include industry manipulation, the health effects, romantic rejections, and addiction (McAfee et al., 2013). The campaigns expose the deceitful and manipulative information that are contained in the industry marketing strategies. Many marketing activities are deceitful and manipulative to attract many consumers. However, in order to create awareness and to inform the public, many de-marketing strategies expose the lies that are found in many business campaigns. The health and safety campaigners have found that consumers, especially youth do not like to be secretly manipulated (McAfee et al., 2013). Therefore, the de-marketing campaigners know that exposing the manipulative information in various campaigns can positively affect the behavioral change.

Exposure and informing the public on the negative health effect is another de-marketing strategy that is used in the health and safety campaigns to affect the behavioral change. The campaigns focus on the short and long term health effects of consuming certain products that are perceived to be risky. Many people have been persuaded to change their behavior after realizing and understanding the consequences that they are likely to face after consuming a particular product (Thornley & Marsh, 2010). Emotional pulls are used in the campaigns to influence the behavior change of consumers. In addition, sometimes the campaigns involve humor, especially if they target young people in the society. However, studies have found that the use of humor is relatively ineffective because it trivializes the seriousness of the issue or behavior being discouraged. Therefore, many health and safety campaigns instill fear among the target audience to persuade them to change their behaviors. But the element of fear should not be used in all de-marketing campaigns because some consumers use it to continue with the same actions and behaviors that expose them to various risks. The campaigns should be designed in such a way that it encourages the behavioral change.

Therefore, the health and safety campaigns significantly utilize the emotional appeal to persuade individuals and groups to comply with the desirable behaviors that do not expose then to a lot of health risks. The fear appeal is an example of emotional appeal that is common in health campaigns and it is based on behavioral learning theory. The fear appeal is based on the fact that threatening messages instill fear, which encourages individuals to comply with the recommended behaviors (Lukic, 2009). However, there are some people who believe that the use of fear appeal to affect behavioral change can only be effective under certain conditions. Studies have shown that fear appeal can be more effective in behavioral change if it is incorporated with self-efficacy skills. The more the fear appeal, the more people are likely to adopt the desirable behavior. However, the adoption of the recommended behavior only continues to certain level of fear. If the level of fear goes beyond the required point, the chances of adopting the desirable behavior begin to decline (Lukic, 2009). Therefore, the intensity of fear should be considered in the emotional appeals in the health and safety campaigns.

In summary, health and safety campaigns strives to counteract the positive appeal that is used in commercial marketing to affect behavioral change. Commercial marketing relies on positive appeals to lure and entertain clients while social marketing use fear or rational appeal aimed at the adoption of recommended behaviors. Health campaigns encourage people to shun doing things that are uncomfortable through the use of fear-evoking messages, which is the main strategy in de-marketing. Therefore, the health and safety campaigns are able to affect the behavioral through the use of emotional appeal, especially the fear appeal.

Comparing and Contrasting “Truth” and “Smoking Kid”

The two campaigns that are used in this paper, the “Truth” and the “Smoking Kid” are both meant to discourage smoking and to affect the behavioral change of smokers. The campaigns are also created in different culture. The “Truth” was created in America where individual independence is highly valued (Allen et al., 2009). The “Smoking Kid”, on the other hand, was created in Thailand, which is a hierarchical society where there is a clear distinction between young people and the adult, including the roles and how they behave.

Overview of the “Truth” Campaign

The “Truth” campaign by the leading American anti-smoking agency known as the American Legacy Foundation in 2000 with the primary aim of exposing the marketing manipulations, especially by the giant tobacco companies (Allen et al., 2009). The campaign was also designed to encourage young people to develop positive beliefs, especially about not smoking. Therefore, the campaign was intended to transform the social norms and minimize youth smoking in America and other parts of the world. The primary target was young people aged 12-17 years and the secondary target audience was youth aged 18-24 years.

The campaign was not meant to discourage smoking among young people, but to tell them the truth about tobacco products that are available in the market in order to counter the manipulative marketing strategies use by tobacco players (Allen et al., 2009). It wanted to make sure that youth are able to make independent decision about smoking without being manipulated. In the America, young people are involved in smoking as a sign of rebellion and empowerment. Therefore, the campaigned shunned from using directive messages that warn youth not to smoke.

Overview of the “Smoking Kid” Campaign

The “Smoking Kid” has been described as the world’s most effective anti-smoking campaign. The campaign was created by Thailand Health Promotion Foundation to discourage smoking across ages, especially among the youth (“Thai Health Promotion Foundation”, 2013). The campaign was based on the insight that mature people know that smoking is harmful, but they continue smoke. However, they would like to see young people smoking. Therefore, the campaign that concentrated on the online media, especially YouTube feature children asking for a light from adults who are smoking at the smoking park. Expectedly, every smoker who was approached by the children refused to give them light and went further to explain why smoking is harmful to the children.

The campaign was based on inside-out reflection where smokers were placed in a condition which their own voices would act as a warning message. It was designed in such a way that it created the behavioral change by using smokers as their own speakers, which made it more effective. The self-awakening moment was created in the campaign by allowing the critical moment to occur when the person is in the act of smoking (“Thai Health Promotion Foundation”, 2013). The campaign was more effective because it used personal reflection to discourage smoking.

Comparing and Contrasting the Two Campaigns

The two campaigns used the same de-marketing strategies, especially the emotional appeal to discourage smoking. They both use fear appeal to discourage smoking by highlighting some of the dangers associated by smoking. The two campaigns emphasized that smoking is causing illness and death and should be shunned in the society. For instance, the “Truth” advertisements shows 1200 young people approaching a tobacco firm and then they fall down and die to symbolize the fact that tobacco kills 1200 people in America every year (Hicks, 2001). The “Smoking Kid” illustrates the fear appeal through the statement which states that ‘Smoking leads to illness and early death’. Therefore, any other marketing activities, the two campaigns utilize emotional appeal to affect the behavioral change of the target audience.

However, the two campaigns use different media to reach the target population. The “Truth” mainly concentrated on TV adverts to reach the primary and secondary audience (Baliga, 2013). The “Smoking Kid”, on the other hand, focused on the online media, especially YouTube to transform the behavior of smokers in Thailand and beyond (“Thai Health Promotion Foundation”, 2013). The “Smoking Kid” deliberately used online media instead of mass media to allow personal engagement of the audience. Therefore, the “Truth” concentrated on mass media while the “Smoking Kid” utilized online media.

The two campaigns also had different approaches to anti-smoking campaigns. The “Truth” focused on the marketing manipulations by tobacco players in the market while the “Smoking Kid” emphasized on the need to stop smoking. The “Truth” avoided directive messages about telling the target audience not to smoke and allowed the audience to make independent decisions while the “Smoking Kid” persuaded the audience to stop the habit of smoking due to the negative health effects (Baliga, 2013). The “Truth”, therefore, avoided extreme anti-smoking messages while the “Smoking Kid” relied on the anti-smoking statement to change the undesirable behaviors of smokers.

The two campaigns had different messaging strategies to appeal to the target audience. The “Truth” did not use a life and death tone to pass messages to the youth who were the main target. Therefore, the campaign used a passive tone through mass media to reach the target population. The polite tone was used in the campaign because it mainly focused on telling the truth about smoking and to expose the manipulation in the industry (Hicks, 2001). It wanted the give young people the freedom to make their smoking decisions independently. Therefore, tough anti-smoking messages were avoided in the campaign.

The “Smoking Kid”, on the other hand, used personal messaging techniques to change the smoking behaviors of the target audience. Inside-out reflection strategy was used to help in delivering personal messaging to smokers (“Thai Health Promotion Foundation”, 2013). The campaign used personal messaging at a personal moment. In addition, it allowed smoker to act as their own speakers, which helped in creating mirror effects on other tobacco users. Personal messaging and inside-out reflection was used because the campaign wanted smokers to make personal decisions of changing their behaviors.


The health and safety campaigns are able to affect the behavioral change through the use of de-marketing strategies. Emotional appeal, especially fear appeal is the main de-marketing strategy that used by the campaigns to change the behaviors of the target audience. The campaigns use threat to counteract the positive appeal that is used in commercial marketing. However, the de-marketing strategies vary from one campaign to another as illustrated in the two campaigns above. The culture and the target audience determine the type of de-marketing strategies to be used in health campaigns.


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