Interview: L. Suzanne Suggs

9th September 2016

In our latest ESMC 2016 interview we take time to talk to the Academic Chair of the upcoming European Social Marketing Conference and all round Social Marketing stalwart, Prof. L Suzanne Suggs.

“As the academic chair for ESMC 2016 are there any particular topics or areas of work you are hoping to see from the papers to submit to the event?”

I hope to see a diversity of topics submitted and I hope these come from a variety of countries and settings. The social problems and challenges we currently face in Europe and across the globe are diverse and most are interlinked. I’d like to see papers, posters, and workshops that illustrate success, challenges, and failures in addressing topical areas (such as health, environment, justice, poverty, security, and peace) at individual, community, organisational and policy levels, and that show how connected each of there areas are to each other. I hope to see papers that reflect an understanding of the causes of the causes of human behaviours. What I am not so keen to see are vertical programs and initiatives that do not draw links between topical areas and bigger social problems. I hope to see and learn from colleagues about how topic specific programs can and do help create environments where people, plants, animals, and the planet can prosper while not compromising the planet and future generations.

“At the moment, which areas of SM are particularly close to your heart, or are you currently working on?”

The topical areas that I am currently working on are: nutrition, physical activity, vaccination, exposure to second hand smoke, urgent care planning and end of life care, PET water bottle waste/tap water consumption, and health systems strengthening for NCDs and NTDs diagnosis and care.
I am most passionate about health issues as I see health as a fundamental right that is; a) hard to achieve due to many policy decisions and b) interlinked with environment, safety, security, justice, and poverty.

“What do you see as the three major issues facing SM in Europe in the next few years?”

Many policy documents in Europe and at the global level suggest social marketing is the approach to use to change behaviours. This is excellent and promising. The challenges, however, are: a) the general lack of good understanding of what social marketing is and what it is not by many donor organisations, policy makers, practitioners and academics; b) most funding mechanisms are not designed to allow social marketing to be done properly as they want interventions and possible solutions designed before proper formative research is conducted; c) a fair amount of dissecting still needs to be done when assessing the academic and practice literature to understand what the mechanisms of change are and what is not social marketing; d) there are still some misunderstanding of what social marketing is and can do. For example: Social Marketing is not communication alone.

Richard Brooks
9th September 2016


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