The social and economic role of marketing

Businesses absolutely have a responsibility to be socially minded; but we should not forget their crucial role in economic growth too (I’m referring to David Cameron’s Happiness Survey speech).

Good business practice needs to balance a social conscience and a commitment to the bottom line, not least to sustain economic investment and the job market. Arguably, businesses have become more socially responsible and marketers sit firmly in this ethical driving seat. Indeed, the ante has been upped as the private sector is likely to be called upon to accommodate gaps created by government cuts to public wellbeing campaigns such as Change4Life.

However, the success of public-private partnerships will be limited unless, as advertising think-tank Credos argued (MW 2 December), ’opinion formers’ can develop an argument for the benefits of advertising.

The key for government is to ensure a practicable balance is struck with private sector businesses and marketers so that core societal messages – from health to knife crime – continue to be issued with authority from the non-profit focused voice of the government.

The roll-out of the convenience store initiative for Change4Life this week, for example, utilises an effective public-private partnership. This is a template for how the private and public sectors can work together to ensure that these critical societal values, and economic commitments, are upheld.

Roderick Wilkes
Chief executive
The Chartered Institute of Marketing

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