261040 Integrating slacktivism with brand identity through web-based “conservation” campaigns

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 9:15 AM - 9:30 AM

Mariaelena Gonzalez, PhD , Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Stan Glantz, PhD , Department Medicine, School UCSF School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA
Pamela Ling, MD, MPH , Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Background: Recently, toacco manufacturers used interactive, multi-layered conservation campaigns which included activities to enhance their tobacco brand identities.

Methods: Qualitative analysis of archived direct mail marketing materials, recordings of tobacco brand videos, and brand website screenshots.

Results: One web campaign combined an online sweepstakes with videos featuring different Western themed conservation projects, a series of eco-tips, and a reusable drinking bottle giveaway. While a small number of web-users won the opportunity to participate in actual conservation activities (such as building an aviary for wild birds), most users participated remotely, watching videos and clicking a map in order to have the tobacco manufacturer donate $5 to a conservation agency. This is similar to previously documented direct mail campaign featuring birthday and earth-day cards with eco-friendly themes, including a web-campaign where a tobacco manufacturer donated a tree on consumers' behalf.

Discussion: These conservation campaigns served to build brand identity, such as a rugged, independent, and Western image, or a “natural” and “organic” image. Both campaigns supported user perceptions that they were taking part in activism (not using their own funds or efforts) while engaged in a brand building activity. The effect of these one-click actions, sometimes described as “slacktivism,” on conservation efforts are unknown. However, slacktivist activities in these contexts turn these efforts into a marketing tools. Unlike other similar campaigns, they do not serve the function of spreading conservation messages within social networks.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify features of slacktivism 2. Discuss how tobacco companies are using environmentally friendly marketing campaigns to leverage brand identity 3. Explain why direct-to-consumer mailing and web campaigns are detrimental to public health

Keywords: Social Marketing, Tobacco

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed this study and am primarily responsible for its findings. I have a Ph.D. in Sociology and have completed a postdoc in tobacco control. My scientific interests include industry policy and marketing strategies.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.