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Marketing campaigns – is it really campaigning?

Have you ever wondered where marketing campaigns fit in with campaigning on single issues?

By the term marketing campaign I mean campaigns like Oxfam’s ‘I’m in’ and the NSPCC’s Full Stop Campaign. Such marketing campaigns have been great for awareness raising and recruitment. The success of such campaigns is clear.

I have run a number of training sessions recently on running single-issue campaigns and there is often confusion about where such campaigns fit in with broader marketing-type campaigns.

Well for a start I think that there is a clear difference between such campaigning. A single-issue campaign has a clear goal of achieving a policy or practice change such as the campaign to end hunting with dogs or for a Children’s Commissioner. A broader marketing campaign is about raising awareness, recruiting supporters and possibly also raising money.

I think that single issue campaigns should recognise the value of such marketing campaigns. Just look at the profile of the Full Stop campaign – quite awesome. They can create an awareness and an environment for change,

Within such marketing campaigns there is a huge potential to run campaigns on specific issues.

I would not argue against running a broader marketing campaign. They can help to create a very positive environment. But they’re not an end in themselves. I would urge organisations that consider running a marketing campaign to think as well about the issues that they have a burning desire to change. Then they should try use the interest generated by the marketing campaign to channel into a specific issue campaign.

A marketing campaign is not a campaign as I understand the term. A campaign is about achieving policy or practice change. An organisation that just runs a marketing campaign is not really campaigning, but it has a great opportunity to do so.

Marketing campaigns can be a great launch pad for a campaign on a specific issue. I think that the test for any marketing campaign is what change has it created for its beneficiaries – if no change was sought then that is a wasted opportunity. So don’t dismiss such marketing campaigns – but I urge all campaigners to capitalise on their campaigning potential.