Social strategy can help put prevention before the cure

So, health secretary Andrew Lansley believes that “Effective social marketing is the essential tool to better understand your local population and empower your community to manage their own health and meet the government’s vision”

Social marketing can often be seen as contentious, especially when campaigns incentivise people in hard-to-reach groups to take action to improve their own health. However, there is compelling evidence that the benefits of investing in behaviour change outweight the costs that result from taking no action.

For every £1 government spends on prevention, it could save up to £6 by not having to rectify the problem.

We’ve seen social marketing work effectively in targeted regional campaigns that involve excessive drinking and sexual health among young people but there needs to be a real commitment over a long period of time to really see the benefits of social marketing.

With Andrew Lansley asking for industry investment in social marketing campaigns such as Change4Life, and public sector budgets being reduced, effective social marketing will need to be formulated creatively and set stringent targets demonstrating good value for money.

Andrew Cook, Partner, Breathe Media

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