One trend that I have seen in recent years is the deliberate blurring of the distinction between advocacy campaigns and marketing campaigns – what I describe as the ‘marketisation’ of advocacy campaigns.
On one level, this really is not an issue as there is some commonality between these two practices. Both focus on a message and both seek some sort of influence on a target group.
But where this ‘marketisation’ becomes an issue is on the purpose of the activities. As I have presented on this site, advocacy campaigns are all about achieving a tangible policy or practice change to tackle a particular problem with the aim of improving the lives of significant numbers of people. Marketing campaigns are often about raising the profile of the organisation and encouraging the pre-conditions for greater support for the organisation. They are two very different disciplines and a healthy, functioning organisation needs both disciplines; but they are different with their different goals.
It is when marketing objectives erode advocacy campaigns objectives that the advocacy campaigner needs to pay attention. I’ll look in my next post at a few examples of this ‘marketising’ of advocacy campaigns …