Cara Perellis

Photo of Cara Perellis

Account Executive
Washington DC
Posts: 8

Cara is a former Account Executive at Ogilvy PR.

Survey Recognizes Social Marketing as Critical Tool in Driving Social Change

Aug 17

Findings were released yesterday from a survey conducted by Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, in collaboration with The Conference People, prior to the 2nd World Non-Profit and Social Marketing Conference. The survey was conducted to examine trends and issues of social marketing, as well as priorities for the future.

More than 600 marketers, communications experts, and researchers from 40 countries convened at the Conference in Dublin, Ireland, on April 11-12, 2011. The survey, conducted among Conference participants and invitees—including representatives of leading corporations, civic organizations, academic institutions, governmental entities, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—found that 84% of respondents report that they believe that social marketing is at a critical turning point in driving social change.

The key findings showcase that the application of marketing and communications to support personal behavior and social change is poised to become an increasingly important tool for addressing global health and social issues.

Here are some highlights:

When asked to identify the areas in which social marketing has most advanced societal progress, respondents named:

Looking ahead, respondents identified areas in which they felt that social marketing was most needed to drive future awareness and behavior change. Obesity, chronic illness, and environmental stewardship top the list of emerging priorities.

Read the rest of this entry »

How Social Media Can Be Used As An Epidemiology Tool

Jun 14

Social media, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, and location-based services like Foursquare, are forever changing the way epidemiologists discover, track, and study the spread of disease. Instead of waiting for health authorities to investigate an outbreak and not report on results for weeks or even months, victims from all over the world are coming together and using social media to compare symptoms, attempt to determine the origin, and arrive at a diagnosis.

An article in today’s New York Times explores this new trend, discussing how new technology is “democratizing the disease-hunting process, upsetting the old equilibrium by connecting people through channels effectively outside government control.” While there is a downside to online discussion of the spread of disease, including spreading fear and misinformation about causes and cures, many epidemiologists are seeing the new trend of using social media as a positive tool.

Dr. Taha Kass-Hout, Deputy Director for Information Science at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees, stating that because “SARS probably can travel at the speed of an airliner from continent to continent in a matter of hours, it just makes perfect sense to adapt the speed and flexibility of social networking to disease surveillance.”

The Pew Internet and Life Project’s The Social Life of Health Information survey released last month (see my previous post) showed that online resources, including advice from peers, serve as a significant source of health information in the U.S. This survey is the first time anyone has reported, in a national consumer survey, how consumers are using the Internet for self-tracking of their health. Health issues such as questions about a specific disease, food recall, and environmental hazard were searched online by 80% of internet users, or about 59% of the U.S. population the survey showed.

People’s communications about health events, whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter, or blogs, can provide valuable information to researchers that can be processed using modern tools and extract key elements to help predict disease outbreaks.

However, there are skeptics who argue that the new social media methods only provide the illusion of better disease tracking. Not everyone uses social media, so in reality, how representative can it be? While using social media to predict disease and virus outbreaks, such as the flu, may only have modest results at best, social media can compliment traditional surveillance of disease and serve as an important tool in the case of new and emerging diseases, or in instances where little or no historical data exists.

Interested in tracking or reporting outbreaks? A mobile app called Outbreaks Near Me, which has been downloaded by over 100,000 people, allows users to rely on global positioning to help them avoid infectious hazards, and report new ones from smartphones.

How social are you when it comes to seeking health information online?

May 13

When it comes to sharing and/or looking for health information online, are you a social butterfly or a wallflower? New findings from the Pew Internet and Life Project’s The Social Life of Health Information 2011 survey were released yesterday, showing that online resources, including advice from peers, serve as a significant source of health information in the U.S., while doctors, nurses, and other health professionals continue to be the first choice for most people with health questions and concerns. Additionally, this is the first time anyone has reported, in a national consumer survey, how consumers are using the Internet for self-tracking of their health.

One of 15 health issues were searched online by 80% of Internet users, or about 59% of the U.S. population, the survey showed. These issues include questions about a food recall, environmental hazard, or information on a specific disease, hospital or doctor.

Susannah Fox, Associate Director and author of the study, says the online conversation about health is being driven forward by two forces: 1) the availability of social tools and 2) the motivation, especially among people living with chronic conditions, to connect with each other.

General findings from the survey include:

  • Social network sites are popular, but used only sparingly for health updates and queries.
  • People caring for loved ones are more likely than other adults to use social network sites to gather and share health information and support.
  • Relatively few use hospital ranking and doctor review sites.
  • One in four adult internet users have consulted online reviews of drugs or treatments.
  • One in four adult internet users track their own health data online.
  • More people report being helped rather than harmed, by online health information.
  • The typical search for health information is on behalf of someone else

Read the rest of this entry »

A Recap of the 2nd World Non-Profit and Social Marketing Conference

Apr 20

The 2nd World Non-Profit and Social Marketing Conference last week in Dublin proved to be a spectacular event, bringing together over 600 attendees from 40 countries, featuring 200 presentations and 32 exhibitors, and as of today, 95% of the delegates who completed the conference evaluation say they will attend the next conference, which is scheduled for April 2013 in Toronto, Canada.

The conference also witnessed the launch of the first International Social Marketing Association. The Association will aim to develop, among other matters, more cooperation between not-for-profit agencies and corporations involved with social marketing.

New findings regarding attitudes about social marketing also had their debut. Ogilvy, in collaboration with the conference organizers The Conference People, fielded a global online survey which was conducted among 280 social marketing professionals to better understand trends, issues, and opportunities within the field of social marketing internationally, and the results were released on the first day of the conference. Read the rest of this entry »

What is the Value of Social Marketing? This New Tool Can Tell you

Mar 30

In partnership with the Department of Health in the U.K., The National Social Marketing Centre (NSMC) is developing a tool which will calculate the cost-effectiveness of social marketing and behavior change interventions to improve health. This should be considered when planning, developing, and evaluating any new project. Up until now, according to the NSMC, there has been no recognized method or guidance on how cost-benefit should be calculated for multifaceted social marketing initiatives to improve health.

Over the past year, the U.K. based National Social Marketing Centre has been working alongside the Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and an advisory committee, as well as leading health economists, to develop a suite of online tools which will help practitioners and commissioners calculate the value for money of their social marketing and behavior change programs. The tools, which will be available for all, free of charge, are downloadable, so they can be personalized by teams to reflect local issues, audiences, and costs.

Five tools have been developed, piloted, and are in the final stages of development. They focus on the following public health topics:

  • Smoking
  • Breastfeeding
  • Alcohol: Harmful and hazardous drinking
  • Obesity
  • Bowel cancer

The smoking tool will be the first to debut on the NSMC Web site this Friday. The other tools are slated to launch between April and August of this year.

The National Social Marketing Centre was established by the UK Government in 2006 as a centre of excellence for social marketing and behavior change. Their mission is to maximize the effectiveness of behaviour change programs for organizations through strategic analysis, advice, support and training across all levels of the social marketing process.

The White House and Facebook Join the Fight to #StopCyberBullying

Mar 11

Browsing through my News Feed on Facebook this week, I was surprised to see a video message from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle about cyberbullying. Intrigued, I clicked on the video to hear the President joke about not “bugging me” for a friend request, but rather bringing attention to the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention which took place yesterday in DC. Those who attended the event, including parents, teachers, and students, gathered to discuss how to stop cyberbullying, and about the responsibility parents have to make sure their children treat each other with respect over the Internet.

The video, which is exclusive to Facebook, served as a promotion and opened the conference. Additionally, Facebook hosted a Facebook DC Live event at 12:20 p.m. Eastern time to tackle how we can make the Internet safer, and how to promote a shared sense of digital citizenship. This spanned across several Facebook pages and included individuals from Facebook Security, MTV, and the White House Office of Public Engagement.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project defines cyberbullying as online harassment that is repeated over time, and involves a power imbalance between a perpetrator and a victim. In a report released in May 2010, the project reported that 93% of today’s teens 12-17 go online. Of those 93%, 32% of online teens have experienced one of the following forms of online harassment:

  • 15% of teens reported having private material (IM, text, email) forwarded without permission
  • 13% had received threatening messages
  • 13% said someone had spread a rumor about them online
  • 6% had someone post an embarrassing picture of them online without permission

In the video, President Obama advocates the importance of addressing cyberbullying, “This isn’t an issue that makes headlines every day, but it affects every single young person in our country,” he says.

Putting a stop to cyberbullying has been an important issue to Facebook, the White House, and as President Obama emphasized in a speech kicking off the Conference, “Preventing bullying isn’t just important to us as President and First Lady; it’s important for us as parents.”

Facebook has also provided support to help stop online bullying by creating a Safety Page and Safety Center, to compliment the White House’s own portal,

Personally, it was a nice change to see President Obama in my newsfeed as opposed to what someone ate for lunch or link the newest celebrity gossip (which I too am guilty of, on occasion).

Facebook’s increasing support of awareness initiatives and charity causes is proving to be a powerful tool for social marketers to help spread their client’s message, while encouraging others to disseminate the information through their other personal and professional networks. Leveraging social networks to promote awareness of issues and causes brings a whole new level to how effective viral internet word-of-mouth marketing can be.

Help Celebrate Social Marketing’s Anniversary – What Are Your Favorite Social Marketing Campaigns?

Jan 25

Yesterday I shared my excitement for celebrating social marketing’s upcoming anniversary by presenting #3 on my personal list of top three favorite social marketing campaigns. Today, I want to share with you my top two. Do these campaigns hold a spot in your top three?

#2.  Don’t Drink Yourself Fat, 2009-Present, New York Department of Health

Background: The New York Health Department encourages consumers to choose beverages with less sugar, and to aims to fight obesity caused by sugary drinks.

Objective: The campaign’s signature image – in which a bottle of soda, “sports” drink or sweetened iced tea turns to a blob of fat as it reaches the glass – is a reminder of how these products can lead to obesity and related health problems. The ads urge New Yorkers to cut back on sugary beverages and quench their thirst with water, seltzer or low-fat milk instead.

Insight: The NY Health Department aired a controversial video PSA that garnered a lot of attention. The video is based on the advertising campaign the department started on the subway in the summer of 2009 that pictured gobs of fat pouring from a bottle of soda into a glass beneath the words “Are you pouring on the pounds?” The video cost about $50,000 to produce, and was paid for by a private donor.

Results: New research indicates that New Yorkers are already curbing their liquid sugar cravings.

•        According to the city’s Health Department, the number of people drinking one or more sugar-rich beverages decreased by 12 percent between 2007 and 2009, but three out of every five New Yorkers are still overweight or obese.

•       The department also claims that sugar in sweetened beverages is the leading source of calorie intake amongst Americans.


The New York Times Online,

The American Council on Science and Health,

And a drum roll please……..

#1.  Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk (1983-Present), U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Background: In 1983 the Ad Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (under the U.S. Department of Transportation – U.S. DOT) partnered to launch the Drunk Driving Prevention campaign.

Objective: The campaign, with its tagline, “Drinking & Driving Can Kill A Friendship,” was originally designed to reach 16-24 year-olds, who accounted for 42% of all fatal alcohol-related car crashes, and inspire personal responsibility to prevent drinking and driving. As the years passed, statistics showed that the issue of drunk driving was approaching the forefront of American consciousness.

According to an April 1986 Roper poll, 62% of young Americans reported that they were now more conscious of the dangers of drunk driving than they had been previously and 34% refused to drink at all when they were planning to drive.

Strategy: In 1990, new PSAs encouraging friends to intervene in order to prevent a drunk person from getting behind the wheel introduced the tagline, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk.” The hard-hitting campaign was instrumental in achieving a 10% decrease in alcohol-related fatalities between 1990 and 1991 – the single largest one-year drop in alcohol-related fatalities ever recorded.

Results: Since its launch, the Drunk Driving Prevention campaign has received more than $1.3 billion in donated media support. Also:

•       Eighty-four percent of Americans recall having seen or heard a Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk public service announcement. Nearly 80 percent report they took action to prevent a friend or loved one from driving drunk, and 25 percent report they stopped drinking and driving as a result of the campaign.

•       In 2009 the campaign evolved to a new series of television PSAs designed to remind viewers that “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.” The campaign is designed to correct that misperception by communicating that you don’t have to be falling down drunk to be too impaired to drive and that even a few drinks can impair driving. The campaign tagline instills the notion that if you are “buzzed,” you’re too impaired to drive safely by asserting that “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.”

•       Since the 1983 inception of the Drunk Driving Prevention campaign, alcohol-related traffic fatalities have dropped significantly and the term “designated driver” has become a part of American culture.

So there you have it, my personal list of top two social marketing campaigns. What is your #1 favorite social marketing campaign?

Happy Almost-Anniversary, Social Marketing!

Jan 24

When you think of something or someone turning 40 years old this year, what is the first thing that comes to mind? The classic children’s television show Sesame Street just celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2010, Starbucks’ first spice and tea shop sprouted up in Seattle in 1971, and the #4 hit song on the radio during 1971 was “It’s Too Late” by Carol King. While many of us remember the 40th anniversaries of our childhood shows, preferred stores, and lyrics to our favorite songs, there is another anniversary this year that deserves some attention.

It has been almost 40 years since social marketing became a formal discipline in July of 1971 with the publication of the article, “Social Marketing: An Approach to Planned Social Change” in the Journal of Marketing by marketing experts Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman. Kotler and Zaltman advocated to the marketing community that social causes can be advanced more successfully through applying principles of marketing analysis, planning, and control to problems of social change. While this article was written four decades ago, the nuts and bolts which Kotler and Zaltman proposed are the very same social marketing principles that us “social marketers” use today. As the anniversary of this article’s publication approaches, it is clear that social marketing is more alive than ever.

In these 40 years, social marketing has been introduced to the public health community and filled the space for a much needed mechanism to propel awareness and behavior change-focused initiatives, campaigns, and programs. While I may be almost half as young as the discipline of social marketing itself, I wanted to share  one of my three favorite social marketing campaigns that still rings true in my mind as the best of the best of true social marketing campaigns. What are some of your favorite and most memorable social marketing campaigns? Look out for my top two tomorrow.

#3.  Truth®, 2000-Present, Legacy For Health

Background: Launched in February 2000, truth® is the largest national youth smoking prevention campaign and the only national campaign not directed by the tobacco industry. The campaign exposes the tactics of the tobacco industry,the truth about addiction, and the health effects and social consequences of smoking—allowing teens to make informed choices about tobacco use by giving them the facts about the industry and its products. It is designed to engage teens by exposing Big Tobacco’s marketing and manufacturing practices, as well as highlighting the toll of tobacco.

Objective: To change social norms and reduce youth smoking. Recent data has shown that historic declines in youth smoking have stalled, making truth®’s lifesaving messages more important than ever.

Strategy: Tobacco use provides some teens with an outlet to express themselves; truth® provides an alternative. Teenage years are a time of transition into adulthood and a quest for control. For some teens, tobacco use can fulfill the innate adolescent need to rebel; truth® is an alternative way to meet that need.

As a brand, truth® directly counters messages from the tobacco company brands, which spent more than $13 billion in 2005 to market their products in the U.S. alone. truth® can never match that spending, so instead it stays ahead by breaking through and being more “cutting edge.”

The truth® campaign uses research with teen audiences, marketing and social science research, and evidence from the most successful anti-tobacco campaigns to inform its strategies.

Results: The campaign has won more than 300 awards for advertising efficacy and has also been lauded by leading federal and state public health officials, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and former President George W. Bush.

Legacy for Health, truth fact sheet,