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Social marketing in Aotearoa New Zealand: Analysing its evolution to inform, improve, and justify its future

Plotting the evolution and experience of social marketing in Aotearoa New Zealand, this thesis charts a creative landscape of productive future research directions in the field. Starting with the question, “What can the social marketing discipline learn from the unique experience of social marketers in Aotearoa New Zealand?”, the research draws from appreciative inquiry interviews with 20 experienced social marketers and reviews of relevant government documents and published commentaries. Analysis of the findings sparked three substantive papers included in this thesis by publication: two of these have already been published, and one is currently being revised for resubmission. Presented in chapters four to six, the three papers analyse the growth and decline of social marketing in Aotearoa New Zealand; the overlapping functions of social marketing and public relations; and the incorporation of indigenous communities’ values into social marketing. 1. The growth and decline of social marketing In an original developmental framework for social marketing in Aotearoa New Zealand, the first of the three papers tracks four phases through four different governments as follows: (1) Foundation (1984-1990); (2) Establishment (1990-1999); (3) Growth (1999-2008); and (4) Decline (2008-2017). The research found that political support is key to enabling ongoing social marketing contributions to social change and argues for the development of an evidence base for effective communication to political decision-makers to attract such support. 2. Public relations, reputation and social marketing In identifying the strong interdisciplinary nature of social marketing in Aotearoa New Zealand, the second paper focuses on the intersections of public relations, marketing, advertising and health promotion. It illustrates how local definitions of, and practices within, social marketing draw from different disciplines. Social marketing has also been shaped by the nation’s founding document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi). The Crown’s revised principles of Te Tiriti offer further opportunity to improve social marketing through indigenous autonomy, partnership, active protection, equity and options. 3. Decolonising social marketing through an indigenous lens The third paper tackles the question: can social marketing address health inequity between Māori and non-Maori? It deals with this question in the context of the international shift in social marketing away from a focus on individual change to a focus on societal and social change. The paper’s findings support an ongoing critical analysis of social marketing from an indigenous worldview. Conclusions Overall, the thesis looks at the impact of political ideologies on the function of social marketing and makes novel suggestions on how social marketing academics and practitioners can attract political support. It calls for increasing interdisciplinarity to engage effectively with contemporary issues and encourages social marketers to search for “soul” in organisations. The thesis also identifies indigenous Māori culture as a potential inspiration for social marketers to improve their interactions with indigenous people in Aotearoa New Zealand as well as across the globe. It recommends that future social marketing interventions not only be informed by indigenous worldviews but also be led by indigenous communities involved from the planning stages.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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