You are on page 1of 13

Marketing Drowning Prevention Effectively National Drowning Prevention Alliance Symposium San Diego, California March 7-9, 2012

(Slide 1) Marketing Drowning Prevention Effectively. Marketing. Drowning Prevention. Effectively. How many of you feel a bit uncomfortable when those four words are strung together? Certainly everyone here is in favor of drowning prevention, its the whole reason for the conference. And wed all like to accomplish that effectively, which is why we are eager to learn from the diverse and accomplished panel of speakers, and from each other. But marketing. Im guessing that adding the word marketing to the mix feels uncomfortable, if not downright offensive to some of you. The very word marketing has strong connotations of selling, profit, making money. Apply the term to drowning prevention and it smells suspiciously of profiting from personal tragedy. People dying, especially children dying should not be a commercial proposition. We lump that in the same category with such morally reprehensible activities as child trafficking, slavery, and drug dealing. Historically, addressing social issues, such as drowning, as been a purely altruistic pursuit. One that is done for the greater good, for the benefit of society, performed by government agencies, not-for-profit organizations and legions of dedicated volunteers. Public awareness campaigns, research studies, community-based programs, and legislative initiatives have been launched, all of which are laudable in their intent and many of which have resulted in some success. But it is not enough. For each child who learns to swim, for each pool fence installed, for each parent who finally understands what constitutes proper supervision around water, we have a veritable tsunami of depressing statistics indicating that change is not happening fast enough.

(Slide 2) One child drowns every minute. In general, children under 5 years of age have the highest drowning mortality rates worldwide (Source: WHO). Drowning is the leading cause of of accidental death among children ages 1-4 (Source: SafeKids). We are making progress, but not enough, and not fast enough, because the drowning rates for young children, ages 1 to 4, continues to grow. The world is growing at a faster rate and what we have done before is no longer sufficient, if it ever was. We need to re-evaluate how we are addressing the issue. Each and every one of us is here today because we care deeply, passionately, about ending drowning. We each bring a unique and valuable set of skills and experience and we share a common, altruistic and honorable goal - to end drowning. But caring deeply is not enough. Good intentions are not enough. And the old methods are not enough. We must harness the skills and the passion in the drowning prevention community and re-think how we are addressing the issue if we want to see real change. My goal today is to challenge your preconceptions about how to end drowning and to convince each and every one of you that we need to begin marketing drowning prevention effectively if we are going to end drowning permanently. The world is changing. New research about human motivation and behavioral change continue to challenge the efficacy of historical programs. Technology, the internet, and globalization allow us to reach more people than ever before. It is an exciting time to be working on social change, and the opportunities for creating lasting, sustainable change in behavior has never been better, if we are willing to embrace the new way of thinking. If we continue doing the same things we have always done, we will get the same results - incremental, temporary, and insufficient to end drowning. Marketing social issues is a new frontier, and like all new frontiers it can be scary, uncertain, and not for the faint of heart or those who are uncomfortable with change. Who is willing to explore the new frontier with me? (ask for show of hands) Lets begin our journey.

Im going to begin by giving you a definition of marketing in the traditional sense of the word. (Slide 3) Philip Kotler, the guru of marketing and author of Marketing Management states that, Marketing is the set of human activities directed at facilitating and consummating exchanges. (Kotler, 1967) More simply put, marketing allows us to live within society. The way that we have been conditioned to think about marketing can mean a purely commercial exchange of money for services or products. But marketing is not limited to commercial transactions. When you mingle in the hallway at this conference you are marketing. You are facilitating and consummating an exchange - a recognition of your efforts, of friendship, of confirming a sense of shared purpose to end drowning. When you discuss a new set of guidelines, unveil a new product or program, or rally support for legislation, you are marketing, all within the realm of drowning prevention. But, the traditional definition of marketing is also not sufficient to address a social issue of the magnitude of drowning. For that, we must turn to a newer and even more exciting frontier - social marketing. (Slide 4) Social marketing is the systematic application of marketing, alongside other concepts and techniques, to achieve specific behavioral goals, for a social good. (French and Blair-Stevens, 2007) Social marketing focuses on: - Social good - Behavior - Harnessing the power of marketing (in all its forms); and - The importance of target audience- or customer-defined value

Using social marketing in order to end drowning means that we are working to change behavior for the social good using the power of marketing in a way that is valued and appreciated by our target audience. I need to repeat that in yet another way just to make sure it really sinks in. We can use market forces to positively change behavior for social good.

We can change how people think about water and end drowning in one generation. We can do it. We can end drowning. Have I convinced anyone that using social marketing to end drowning is worth exploring? Now, lets take a look at what marketing drowning prevention effectively might look like. We dont have time to go into a lot of detail or even to cover all the relevant points, but I can give you an overview. Im going to explore this in the context of the Open Water Drowning Prevention key messages developed by the International Task Force of the International Life Saving Federation and presented at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in Vietnam last May. We will then look at how we could apply the rules of social marketing to communicate these messages effectively. (Slide 5) Care of Self 1. Learn swimming and water survival skills. 2. Always swim with others. 3. Obey all safety signs and warning flags. 4. Never go in the water after drinking alcohol. 5. Know how and when to use a life jacket. 6. Swim in areas with a lifeguard. 7. Know the weather and water conditions before getting in the water. 8. Always enter shallow and unknown water feet first. (Slide 6) Care of Others 1. Help and encourage others, especially children, to learn swimming and water safety survival skills. 2. Swim in areas with lifeguards. 3. Set water safety rules. 4. Always provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water. 5. Know how and when to use a life jacket, especially with children and weak swimmers. 6. Learn first aid and CPR. 7. Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger. 8. Obey all safety signs and warning flags.

I believe all of us would agree that if these sixteen steps were followed consistently, that action followed the instructions, then we would see a sharp decrease in drowning rates. But will people change their behavior just because we have given them these messages? They havent historically. So how do we use market forces to elicit the desired behavior for the social good? How do we market our messages? We need a global strategy, with local solutions, tied together using a global symbol and promoted through a positive and action-oriented marketing campaign. (Slide 7) Key Components - Global Strategy - Local Solutions - Global Symbol - Marketing Campaign Lets start with global strategy. Developing a workable global strategy means three things. First, a truly global strategy. We must coordinate our efforts with drowning prevention organizations around the world, the same way the AIDS campaign has worked. This is an enormous social problem and not one that any one organization can change on its own, plus it makes financial and manpower sense to tap into economies of scale. Consistency is less expensive to create and easier to disseminate. Second, we must have an understanding of what we want to achieve. In this case, having the 16 key tasks be consistently followed. Third, understanding how people think and behave. For this I will be drawing liberally from Social Marketing and Public Health - Theory and Practice by Jeff French et al., Switch by Chip and Dan Heath and Drive by Daniel Pink, as well as from other research on social psychology and marketing. Key to creating lasting, internalized behavioral change around water is emphasizing JOY! in our efforts. Far too often we fall back on listing the dangers involved around water, on restricting behavior. We believe that if we provide a reasonable list of rules, then the public will adhere to the rules. It doesnt happen and its not backed up by research. Not consistently and almost certainly not beyond the moment. Using JOY! isnt just a feel-good solution, its backed by science.

Negative warnings rarely change behavior positively. In order to change behavior permanently, people must see the change, feel the change, and make the change. Integral to the desire to change is JOY! Negative messages result in short-term avoidance strategies to avoid unpleasantness. Positive, joyful messages result in internalized behavioral change. Let me give you a brief visual example. How do you respond to each of the following images? What is the first thing you feel? Not think, but feel. Feel free to yell out your answers. (Slide 8) (Slide 9) Rules vs. Joy This is not a trite example or one designed to minimize the dangers of water, but it demonstrates key principles in social marketing and behavioral change that are easily overlooked. We may dutifully follow the rules and even believe that bad or negative things are necessary and build character, but we are far more likely to change our behavior out of sight of the sign or symbol of authority if we are positively motivated. We think that using extrinsic rewards like carrots and sticks, or rules and signs, will change behavior, but in reality they often have the opposite effect in the long run. The only way to truly change behavior is to change intrinsic motivation, or how someone acts even if no one else is around. There is a way to make this happen. (Slide 10) 1. Tell people what to do. 2. Motivate people to do the right thing. 3. Make it easy to do the right thing. Tell people what to do. One excellent example of effective social marketing is the MADD campaign to end drunk driving. They dont ask people to abstain from drinking, they direct them to abstain from a specific risky behavior, drinking and driving, and they tell people how to do it. Dont drink and drive. Not dont drink. Not dont consume more than 5 ounces of wine or 3 ounces of spirits. Not here is how to figure out if you are drunk or have limited reasoning ability. Simply dont drink and drive. Assign a designated driver. Moral judgement is removed. Asking people to abstain from enjoyable, sociable activities is

removed. Instead, a clear directive is given. People are told what they should do. Dont drink and drive. How successful is it? MADD estimates that they have saved 300,000 lives in the last 30 years. But heres an example of why I think they have been successful. Last year an 18-year old teenage boy explained to me how he regulated his behavior at parties. He clips his car keys to the belt loop in the middle of his back. He told me if he cant figure out how to unclip the keys hes had too much to drive. OK, maybe not exactly what the MADD people had in mind, but if an 18-year old teenage boy is willingly self-regulating his risky behavior, and not getting behind the wheel when hes had too much to drink, that, to me, is the sign of a successful campaign, that is internalized behavioral change, and more than that, changed behavior that is not just socially acceptable, its so desirable that even a teenage boy feels sufficiently rewarded for engaging in the correct, non-risky behavior. We need to start by exploring what is working now in drowning prevention. This means leaving all of your pre-conceived ideas of how to end drowning at home. Not focusing on what you THINK should work, but what actually works out of your existing program. Out of the list of 16 tasks is there one you can focus on that people are doing now? The good news is that usually the biggest problems have the smallest solutions. A simple switch that motivates people to do the right thing, to perform the right action, an action that feels good and has positive social reinforcement. Once you find it, publicize the success relentlessly. We still need to direct people. We are starting from a position that despite all the excellent programs, most people arent even aware drowning is an issue. We must remember that this is not a problem with the general public, its a genuine lack of understanding of how to act safely around water. Information has not been effectively communicated. Period. The vast majority of people dont act safely because they dont know how to act safely. If we make it easy for them, if we give them clear and simple directions on how to do the right thing, we have plenty of research that suggests they will start doing the right thing. To market our social change, basic principles of marketing should be followed. (Slide 11) Be directive. Be descriptive. Use 3 words. Be directive. Tell people what you want them to do in clear, easy to understand action words. Be descriptive. Tell people what correct behavior looks like.

And do it in three words because that is the most people can remember. One word is best, but three words is the maximum. Just Do It. The sixteen key tasks is our starting point, but it is not directive enough, too much information, and too many words. I believe our global campaign needs to be Teach. Watch. Protect. Directive. Descriptive. 3 Words. Lets look at how the sixteen key tasks fit into these words. (Slide 12) Teach. Learn swimming and water survival skills. Never go in the water after drinking alcohol. Know the weather and water conditions before getting in the water. Always enter shallow and unknown water feet first. Help and encourage others, especially children, to learn swimming and water safety survival skills. Watch. Always swim with others. Swim in areas with a lifeguard. Always provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water. Protect. Obey all safety signs and warning flags. Know how and when to use a life jacket, for yourself and especially with children and weak swimmers. Set water safety rules. Learn first aid and CPR. Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger. Teach. Watch. Protect. Using these three words we can work to embed the rules into television programming and movies, into public health campaigns, into educational materials, into media events. Think of how we could embed the Water Watchers concept. Just as the cool kid announced to his friends on popular teenage shows, I cant drink, Im the designated driver. We should have the cool role models announce I cant talk to you right now, its my turn to watch, Im the Water Watcher. or Lets swim near the lifeguards station so we are protected.

When translating the words into other languages it is crucial that the meanings of the words, how they are interpreted, be evaluated. A direct translation may not be appropriate, but using three directive, descriptive words is key to developing a consistent global social marketing campaign. Once we have a global platform, we can adjust how we deliver the message to fit local markets. Use Teach. Watch. Protect. and the key messages underneath, but think about how you can reach your local audience most effectively - use local solutions. When I talk about local solutions, Im not just talking about geography. Im talking about your particular area of interest. Is it water safety for children? Working with people with disabilities? Pool fencing? Surfers? Teaching women to swim in a culturally-sensitive manner? Competitive swimming? Boating? Water is complex and the requires complex solutions. Instead of continuously fighting each other and trumpeting THE only way to end drowning we must understand that there is room for all of us, but we have to be united under one global strategy. You know your local community well. Speak their language, but make sure they understand they are part of something bigger. Motivate them to do the right thing, to do what the rest of the community is going to do, to be part of the successful group - the people who understand water. People want to feel part of something bigger than themselves, especially when it makes them feel good. They just need direction. Teach. Watch. Protect. and a positive visual image to rally around. (Slide 13) Who can recognize any of these symbols? Nikes swoosh. McDonalds golden arches. Apples apple. Starbucks. These are examples of global brands that have an incredibly high level of visual recognition. They dont just sell products, they sell a positive feeling, a sense of empowerment or of the familiar, a sense of belonging. They evoke emotion. The use of powerful symbols to evoke emotion is not limited to the purely commercial realm, but it has rarely been used in social marketing. We need to change that. Lets see how it has been done successfully. (Slide 14) The Olympic rings symbolize positive competition, national pride balanced with a sense of global unity. The red AIDS ribbon was one of the first successful symbols to be associated with a social cause and was copied by so many organizations that they adopted another symbol to differentiate themselves once again.

All of these symbols have one thing in common - they unify people positively. They motivate people to action, whether buying a product or a higher social cause, because they provide a powerful visual reminder of the desired action by tapping into their emotions. To end drowning, we must motivate people to do the right thing. We must create global unity in a positive way regarding water. We do this through emotion, prompted by positive visual cues. How do we want people to feel? Not think, not act, but feel, because if they like how they feel, they will follow that path and act appropriately. Again, we are back to how critical it is that we focus on the positive emotions, on JOY! I will read directly from the Heath brothers book Switch, The positive emotion of interest broadens when we want to investigate. When were interested, we want to get involved, to learn new things, to tackle new experiences. We become more open to new ideas. The positive emotion of pride, experienced when we achieve a personal goal, broadens the kinds of tasks we contemplate for the future, encouraging us to pursue even bigger goals. It is imperative that we motivate people to act safely around water by eliciting the emotion of JOY! if we want their behavior to change. We need a global symbol, a visual cue, that embodies this feeling. (Slide 15) Jabari was designed to appeal across cultural, socio-economic and geographic boundaries and to elicit feelings of warmth, safety, and of joy. He was developed using theories of marketing, childhood development, cross-cultural communication, and human motivation. Our challenge now is to take what we have created - a global strategy with local solutions, that is visually represented by one symbol, and then create an action-oriented marketing campaign to communicate the information effectively. We know what the end result should look like. People have internalized the sixteen key tasks about water safety to the degree that they routinely perform those tasks even when no one is looking. Parents pass on the knowledge to their children as naturally as they do how to eat with utensils or cross the street safely. Swimming lessons and water survival skills are taught as routinely as reading and writing. Children are supervised around water. Lifeguards are respected and no one would think of swimming unless educated observation of the water, signs, flags and lifeguards indicate that it is safe.

Alcohol and water never mix. If there is an accident, everyone knows how to safely rescue the victim and perform basic first aid and CPR. I propose a global campaign that tells people what to do, motivates them to do the right thing, and makes it easy to do the right thing. (Slide 16) One child drowns every minute. A statistical fact drawn from a range of well-regarded sources and repackaged as an effective marketing statement. One child makes it personal, makes it something every person can understand and identify with. Every minute, thats a lot of children every hour, every day, every week, every year. It takes daunting and impersonal academic statistics and repackages them for maximum impact to an individual - it makes it something that can happen to every person. It makes it real. It makes people aware that it can happen to them. Yes, its scary, and at odds with the JOY! that I have been so relentlessly pushing, but we can frame it positively. (Slide 17) Make the Minute Matter. What can happen in a minute? A child can drown. A life can end. Contrast that with the positive things. Hug your child. Call a friend. Kiss your spouse. Play catch with your child. Make a cup of tea. Watch the sun set. Teach your child to ride a bike. Read to your child. Throw a ball for your dog. Have many of these positive and joyful visual images occur in and around water and intersperse them with things that you can do in one minute that will prevent drowning out of our list of 16 key tasks. Be a Water Watcher. Take swimming lessons. Take First Aid classes. Teach your child the warning flags. Fit a life jacket correctly. Teach. Watch. Protect. Tell people what they need to do and motivate them by showing the positive benefits. And then make it easy for them to follow through. Make resources for classes easily available in centralized locations. Make sure our warning system is consistent globally in terms of what they mean and where warning flags and signs are posted. Make Water Watcher signs and other visual prompts easily available and downloadable online. Consistent messages on warning signs, course catalogues, tourist information and educational materials. And have everything visually tied together with one global symbol. We still need to point out the dangers, but we can do it in a positive way that makes people feel good about following the rules. This is no small task. In fact it will require a concerted global effort, but it can be done. We need to enlist professional advertising and public relations firms to create the global

campaign and test it. We need to roll-out the campaign for maximum impact at minimal costs, leveraging economies of scale. One global concept, one global character, one consistent set of messages. Some adaptation to local cultures on how the message is delivered and the exact words, but overall we remain consistent. No dilution of the messages. No conflicting messages. No fear-based messages. We saturate social media, television, and radio. We work with governments to include the campaign in their public health and safety programs. We have town meetings and reach people in remote villages through story-telling, play acting and culturally established ways of sharing information. We create a stable of high-profile public figures - athletes, actors, celebrities. And we have them all focused one one thing. Make the Minute Matter. And we end drowning. To summarize, drowning is a global problem that can only be resolved by changing how people act around water. Our goal must be lasting, internalized behavioral change around water. (Slide 18) In order to accomplish this goal, we must use social marketing. Doing social good, by changing behavior, we must harness the power of marketing in all its forms in a way that our target audience feels is important and relevant. (Slide 19) - Social good - Behavior - Harnessing power of marketing (in all its forms); and - The importance of target audience- or customer-defined value (French, et al., 2010) We need a global strategy, with local solutions, tied together using a global symbol and promoted through a positive and action-oriented marketing campaign. (Slide 20) Key Components - Global Strategy - Local Solutions - Global Symbol - Marketing Campaign In order to effectively communicate, we must (Slide 21)

1. Tell people what to do. 2. Motivate people to do the right thing. 3. Make it easy to do the right thing. And in telling them what to do we need to: (Slide 22) Be directive. Be descriptive. Use 3 words. I have laid out the path. Who will accompany me on the journey and end drowning in our lifetime? If you would like a copy of this speech, please e-mail me and Ill send you the link. I also will be posting the speech on YouTube. (Slide 23)

About the Author: Rebecca Wear Robinson is a social entrepreneur dedicated to ending childhood drowning. She combines a wonks love of statistics with a mothers passion and a tenacious commitment to making the right change happen. Rebecca worked in consulting for a number of years, primarily in human resources and process restructuring. Her interest in all things global have translated to extensive travel around the world and living for a number of years in Austria, England and France. She travels extensively with her two children. Rebeccas first masters degree is from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in International Management, Marketing, and Economics. Her second masters is from London School of Economics in Organizational and Social Psychology where she focused on group dynamics, gender issues, and flexibility in the workplace. You can reach her at rebecca@rebeccawearrobinson.com. Follow her at RebeccaSaveKids and JabariWater. Friend her on Facebook at Rebecca Wear Robinson and Jabari of the Water.