Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Communication and Education

Social Marketing

In recent years, prevention professionals have become more strategic in their communications goals and savvier in their approach to using media. Through techniques known as social marketing, practitioners use advertising principles to change social norms and promote healthy behaviors. Like public education, social marketing uses a variety of media channels to provide a message to targeted groups of individuals. Yet, social marketing campaigns do more than just provide information—they try to convince people to adopt a new behavior by showing them a benefit they will receive in return.2 Social marketing campaigns have been used in a variety of social service and public health settings to address issues ranging from gambling to HIV prevention to seatbelt use.

Some examples of social marketing environmental strategies to address underage drinking include:


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