Jennifer Wayman

Photo of Jennifer Wayman

U.S. Managing Director, Social Change
Washington DC
Posts: 23

Jennifer is the former Managing Director of the U.S. Social Change Practice of Ogilvy Public Relations.

Environment as a Behavior Shaping Tool

May 26

Our office is moving this summer. We’re not moving far, just a few floors away in our current building. But we are moving big, in that we are transitioning to an “open” floor plan – no offices, no partitions between workstations and (gasp) precious little filing space. My thoughts on the matter fluctuate from excited to terrified within every hour of every day.

To be sure, this change will require me to work very differently from the way I have grown accustomed to working. And, it has gotten me thinking a lot about the influence that our physical environment has on our behaviors.

Admittedly, this is not a new concept. Studies have shown that placing healthy food choices in more prominent, easier-to-access locations increases the consumption of those foods over less healthy alternatives. We have also seen that the explosion of bike shares and protected bike lanes in major cities has motivated more people to use their own power to get around (Washington, DC and New York have doubled biking rates in 4 years).

But, in these examples, personal choice is still there. If I really want a brownie instead of fresh fruit, I can get one with a little extra effort (and guilt). If I don’t want to ride my bike through the city streets, I can walk or take the Metro, or a taxi, or a bus, or my car.

In the case of our office move, however, I don’t have many choices. I can’t choose to keep an office when no offices exist. I can’t choose to keep my hard copy files when no storage space exists. I can’t chose to host meetings or conference calls at my table for convenience because it will disturb those around me. I can choose, however, to embrace this change as a fresh start, a new way to work, an exciting new adventure, and an opportunity to get to know my colleagues even better.

So, with limited choices, it seems that attitudes become even more important. As I consider how I will need to behave differently in our new office environment, my attitudes towards those new behaviors will likely influence them as much as our office set-up will. And, my attitudes will be influenced by social norms, outcome expectations and a whole host of other behavior-shaping influences.

For me, this reinforces the importance of taking a holistic look at every behavior change challenge – and the utility of considering how multiple influences play a role. Yes, our new office environment will cause me to behave differently. But for me to truly embrace those new behaviors and maintain them over time, I’ve also got to believe that those actions will have a tangible benefit (e.g., more collaboration, less paper clutter), that my colleagues will support me, and that I actually can work differently after all these years. Messages, communications initiatives and training workshops related to our move should take these factors into consideration, and, fortunately, most have done so thus far.

Somewhat ironically, planning ahead to working in a “one size desk fits all” office environment has renewed my belief that there is never a “one size fits all” approach to motivating behavior change.

Words of encouragement and open space work tips are most welcome!

What’s In A Name?

Apr 02

My last post about Ogilvy’s rebranding of our “social marketing practice” to Social Change generated quite a bit of buzz in the social marketing community over the past few days – particularly on the social marketing listserv (

Knowing that this topic has been a source of much debate within the community for many years, I fully expected this. I’ve been following the discussion with much interest (and a little disappointment), and I wanted to share a few additional thoughts here.

First and foremost, our decision was not one that we took lightly. In fact, we discussed and debated it for many years because we believe so strongly in the discipline of social marketing. Ogilvy has been working in the field since the mid-1980s, when we were fortunate to help CDC be among the first government agencies to market public health with the landmark America Responds to AIDS program.

We still use and embrace the term social marketing whenever we are talking to and working with clients like CDC and many other government agencies who understand it, appreciate it and continue to ask for it by name. However, we work with a wide range of clients in the social marketing/social purpose/social change/purpose marketing/cause marketing/[your term here] arena.

Although it pained us to admit it, fewer and fewer of them use and understand the term social marketing. This is true not only among our corporate clients but among non-profits and foundations as well. “Social marketing” is simply not part of their language… it’s not even on their radar.

Is Social Change a perfect term? Of course not, it has baggage too. But in our research (yes, we tested a number of options with our government, non-profit and corporate clients before deciding on Social Change), it was the clear winner. For us, it was simply a matter of meeting our audience where they are, which is what we advise our clients to do every day.

I greatly respect the opinions of those who disagree with our decision, and who prefer to continue to champion the term social marketing. I also greatly appreciate the words of encouragement (or at least understanding) from others who see why we came to find the term to be challenging for our business audience.

For those who are not on the social marketing listserv, here are some excerpts from the discussion that is taking place there (names omitted). I’d welcome any additional comments here as well. Thanks for reading and engaging!

  • I think we’re going on almost 10 years now as a field in which the term “social marketing” has only become more diluted. A Google search for resources in our field is almost useless. While I still use the term “social marketing” on a regular basis (it’s my URL for gosh sakes), I nearly always on first reference will describe what I do as “marketing for social impact” when I don’t know if the other person is familiar with the term. I think this is hurting us as a field. I think about what I would tell a client who has invested a lot of time and resources into a program name that just isn’t resonating with their audience. Maybe it’s time to transition to a more meaningful and descriptive name. We don’t have to give up “social marketing” but if we want people to find us and understand what we’re about, we may need to augment the term. The question is, is our audience those who don’t already know about our powerful social marketing approach, or is our audience us? We need to eat our own dog food and brand ourselves in a way that connects with the people we want to reach as a field.
  • I think Ogilvy is spot-on. It is so draining to have to start every conversation about Social Marketing with the phrase “it’s not Social Media.” Such talk is disempowering, deflects the importance of our field, and causes our audience to glaze-over. It is absolutely, IMHO, hurting our brand.
  • I agree completely with the need for re-branding. As a young professional and student, I find that over time I have sought more and more distance from the term ‘social marketing’ for all of the reasons mentioned above. Even when speaking with fellow public health researchers and professionals, I discover halfway through the conversation that their understanding of social marketing is not the same as mine. The trend to shy away from labeling ourselves ‘social marketers’ is a sign. We need to find a way to market social marketing better and I would not rule out changing the name of the discipline.
  • Sorry to disagree with you. Wonderful things happen when people ask me to explain social marketing. I get into a much larger discussion than if I say that I am a practitioner of social change. They never quite thought of marketing in that way and they see it as a whole new tool box. Then if I give them a copy of [the] Social Marketing book, and they are stunned by how many great examples of successful social marketing already exist. And the listserv social marketing network itself allows a quick search for help on any social marketing problem.
  • I can tell you from extensive personal experience that people of good intellect and good will are put off by our having to run through the “it’s not social media” litany prior to discussing what our discipline really is. Their first and overwhelming impression, from our name, is that we are social media. Why dissipate our energy and theirs on a naming mishap?
  • I do understand all that would have to evolve were we to take the brave step of rebranding ourselves (urls, books, journals, business cards, certificates and degree programs…) – but it could happen over time. The important thing, IMHO, is that we project a positive, contemporary image going forward, without having to explain that “we named ourselves before social media came to be.” How old-fashioned a description that makes us sound!!
  • I agree there is a lot of confusion from those outside the field on “what is social marketing.” Very often when I see the term it does not refer to the process we intend. Just some food for thought: In trying to explain this again the other day I came upon a critique new to me. The people didn’t object to the “social” part, they immediately turned-off at the word “marketing,” as they associated it with underhanded manipulation. If we’re re-thinking the brand, perhaps it’s not just confusion with social media that holds the name back from broader acceptance. I’m sure some focus groups could give other insights on if and how a change could be good.
  • I have several reasons for wanting to leave it as Social Marketing: (1) Social Change is “nebulous/broad.” We are only one of many strategies for social change. We’d have to always explain what our particular strategy is. (2) Social Change Marketing has the same problem. You could be marketing social change strategies without a focus on our unique sales proposition (USP) which is behavior change. (3) Social Marketing equity, as others have mentioned: Journals, Conferences, Associations, Degrees, Courses, Certificates, Government RFPs. (4) Social media did shorten from social media marketing . . . that helped. (5) I find it is a good and quick attention getter and conversation starter.
  • Marketing in Brazil, for instance, has the worst connotations among the general public and even among educated people. Using the word marketing here to explain what social marketing is about is a sure way to turn the audience off. Unless I am talking to people from the commercial world or from some leading non-profits. Depending on the recipient, I have been using several terms such as behavioral design, behavior change management, behavioral engineering and so on. This is not good, it hurts brand equity and it does not help in the positioning of social marketing. Only when I feel that I am on firm ground I move to use social marketing. In other words, I strive to tailor the talking to the audience. My feeling is that we are lost in the long tail of conceptual approaches, mixed with social media marketing, cause marketing, public advocacy etc.
  • From a UK and European perspective Social Marketing is I find a very helpful term to describe the development of social programs that seek to create social value from a citizen’s perspective. I have also worked in over 20 countries and have found that people have no problem with the term. Social marketing is also a term that many governments now use and it is endorsed by ECDC and WHO Europe, etc. I think it is always helpful to seek to develop better ways to describe what we do but its also important to recognise that there is a growing theoretical academic base and evidence base for social marketing. This is only going to grow. So it’s important to be protective of our ‘brand’ and as well as worrying about some confusion celebrate the growing influence and acceptance of social marketing around the world.
  • Some of you want to be social change agents, the most over-used and inarticulate statement for being since “innovation?” and what is this “social change” you aspire to doing? Kumbaya and empowerment? Community development and grassroots organizing? Political and legal advocacy? Teaching people in developing countries to be “entrepreneurs”? Holding up every project for good as the creat of the wave of social entrepreneurship that will save the world? What if we helped them build individual and community assets (using marketing), helped them focus on their priority problems and groups, made markets work for the poor rather than leaving them to fend for themselves cloaked in the respectability of being “entrepreneurs?” Said to social entrepreneurs, “I respect what you’re trying to do and I have some tricks to help you do it better.” My, that was a bit tough -wasn’t it? But more true than some of you may think. What is “social change” – and why would a PR agency presume to be in that line of work, really? Are most clients, or would be clients, really out to change the world (yes there are a few, but many fewer than you know)? And are they actually trying to change the world, or solve a specific problem they have – or sense some group of people has?
  • From the perspective of an established practitioner, it may make sense to associate yourself with social marketing because you don’t necessarily need people to understand your ‘elevator speech’. But from the perspective of someone just entering the field of public health, it is frustrating and ineffective to associate myself with a field that no one understands. The fact of the matter is, either something needs to change or people like me will just stop using the term because it is not helping us move forward in our careers.
  • I use many different terms to identify, define, explain, and persuade decision makers to use social marketing strategies. So tailoring to my audience is key for me. Many of you who know me know that I think about audience first. So I try to read up on an audience, ask them a few questions and listen so I can then decide how to approach them about social marketing. Then I might start using the SM language interspersed to introduce them to the concepts. But we don’t have to fully educate every potential user on all of OUR jargon and details in order to get them to “buy or use” our services. If we do we’re lost as a field. And by the way, that’s contrary to our field’s whole notion of practice…So what? So what if we use social marketing for our journals and conferences, so what if we use a different term when we write a proposal, so what if we use a different term when we talk to a decision-maker, or a program manager? We can always bring the uneducated along and explain the history of our field, the evolution, and where we are now, if they’re interested. If they’re not interested then we need to be on their wavelength to start with…We’re not a brand in the classical sense of having a single organizational home that builds, adapts, distributes, and promotes a unique and beneficial offering to its audiences. We have multiple homes in many countries with varying cultures and different histories of the meaning of the word social and marketing. We can’t ask professionals in those places to ignore their own landscape, lest they become the Ford Pinto, Pepsi Brings You Back to Life, or Got Milk examples when introduced in other cultures (

(Re) Introducing Social Change

Mar 27

For many years, Ogilvy Public Relations has used the term “social marketing practice” to refer to our team of experts in human behavior who are dedicated to helping people live healthier, safer, more secure, and happier lives.

Now, we are Ogilvy Social Change. Why?

In all honestly, it’s partly because I became exhausted by the need to constantly explain that, while social media is a key channel that we use in social marketing, I don’t simply “do Facebook and Twitter” all day long.

But much more importantly, Social Change is a term that looks outward towards the world, rather than internally at what we do. It describes the ultimate objective of our work and is better understood by clients and partners of all types. And, it encompasses the full range of client engagements that we support, including:

  • Working both upstream (policy, environmental and systems change) and downstream (individual change);
  • Employing multiple approaches: communications, marketing, earned, owned and paid media, stakeholder and partner engagement, and more;
  • Influencing the entire spectrum of social change: awareness to knowledge to interest/engagement to behavior; and
  • Developing initiatives across a wide range of disciplines: public education, social and behavioral change, health education, risk communications, cause related marketing, cause branding, corporate social responsibility, and more.

Hey, Vince Vaughn thinks it’s a good move, and we’re excited about it too!


About Social Change
Ogilvy Public Relations has worked with clients at the forefront of social change for nearly three decades. Our Social Change team members are experts in human behavior who are dedicated to helping people live healthier, safer, more secure, and happier lives.

We understand behavioral economics, behavioral science, and social science, and put that knowledge to work on behalf of brands, associations, non-profits, and government agencies that are seeking to make a positive impact on society’s most pressing challenges. We have deep and wide-ranging experience across public health, wellness, safety, preparedness and mitigation, financial security, and energy and the environment.

10 Reflections on the 2013 World Social Marketing Conference

Apr 23

In the few short hours since the 2013 World Social Marketing Conference concluded earlier this evening, I’ve found myself reflecting quite a bit on the presentations and discussions.  So, while it’s all still fresh in my head, here are some of my personal takeaways (in no particular order):

1.  Social change marketing, as I’m now referring to our discipline, is still brand challenged — most notably by the ever-growing confusion with “social media” and the fact that to some “marketing” is a bad word.  Yes, we need to do a better job of “marketing social change marketing.”  So let’s stop talking about it, and let’s start doing it.

2.  It was refreshing to hear some presenters admit they don’t have all the answers and call for the field to collaborate on finding solutions to big problems.

3.  It was disheartening to see the divide that still exists between academics and practitioners.  As my colleague, Tom Beall, eloquently said: Let’s build on our commonalities and not exploit our divisions.

4. I wish there were more time to experience the culture of Toronto.  To open the conference, we were treated to a beautiful blessing from a member of First Nations followed by a performance by a World Champion Hoop Dancer — something I’d never seen before and thoroughly enjoyed.  Yet, I found myself wishing for more opportunities to experience the culture of Canada and the beautiful city of Toronto throughout the next 2 1/2 days.  The next time we gather, I hope there are more opportunities to do so that are baked in to the conference agenda.

5.  Presentations that rely heavily on visuals and compelling stories are far more engaging than text-heavy slides.  (This is not a new learning but one that was re-confirmed after watching 2 1/2 days of consecutive presentations.)

6. Experts from outside the field of social marketing but who work in a related field bring a valuable perspective — we should strive to hear more from them.

7.  The solutions to our society’s most wicked problems will only be solved with the involvement of ALL sectors of society.  (Jay Bernhardt)

8. Both sides of public-private partnerships need courage for there are always detractors.  (Celeste Bottorff)

9. Social and Marketing go together like a horse and carriage.  Lyrics by Nancy Lee.  Vocals by Nancy Lee’s Granddaughters.

10. There is amazing insightful, creative, and innovative social marketing work happening around the world.  I’m inspired and am looking forward to getting back to work to apply some of what I learned this week!

Introducing OgilvyEngage

May 16

OgilvyExchange Logo

The Business of Behavior

Companies increasingly recognize that if societies falter, their business can’t succeed. Accordingly, many enterprises acknowledge that it is a business imperative to get people to change individual behaviors around such issues as driving safely, eating healthier, taking medications regularly, staying out of debt  and others.

Through corporate responsibility commitments, sustainability initiatives, philanthropic contributions, and more, companies are changing the way they do business and driving awareness of important social issues. But too many efforts stop there, and much more can be done. What’s often missing is the engagement of stakeholder audiences in changing their behaviors… to move people beyond awareness toward actions that make an impact.

This new frontier is discussed in the latest edition of Ogilvy & Mather’s Red Paper Series – From Cause to Change: The business of behavior.  It explores the ways in which companies across a broad range of industries can become agents of behavior change and contribute even more so to the well-being of individuals and society while improving business performance.  For companies, this can translate into market expansion opportunities, reduced costs, strengthened brand positioning, and an enhanced reputation and leadership profile.

Leveraging the science of behavior change is at the heart of social marketing, the application of marketing and communications to the promotion of ideas, issues, and practices that support personal and public health and safety, community benefits, and social change.  In effect, it’s to spark positive behavior change. Social marketing traditionally has had a rich and successful legacy in the public sector, something that our agency has been acquainted with for nearly three decades. We know how social marketing gets people to buckle up, get screened for colon cancer, purchase flood insurance, and more.  These are significant impacts and the results cannot be discounted.

What is OgilvyEngage?

OgilvyEngage is Ogilvy Public Relations’ new global behavioral science practice that helps companies drive socially-beneficial behavior change among consumers, employees, and other stakeholders to improve business performance while contributing to the well-being of individuals and society.  We use proven behavior change models, theories, tools, and techniques to help clients assess opportunities; better understand the motivations of their audiences; and design results-oriented messages, strategies, and programs.

This expertise is born out of our global social marketing practice.  For nearly 30 years, we have been a global leader in helping clients change minds, shift attitudes, redefine norms, and support sustained individual and community behavior change.  We design research-based and theory-informed integrated solutions that combine disciplines such as paid, earned, and owned media; partnership development and coalition building; special events; advertising; and direct marketing to help clients around the world make a difference in healthcare, wellness, safety, education, personal finance, and more.

At the heart of this specialty is our agency’s proprietary Dynamics of Change model, a tool designed to identify the specific change a company should invest in to bring about maximized outcomes for its business, individuals, and society, as well as to define the strategy and processes for implementing a change program.

The Benefit for Business

Global changes to the economy, to our environment, and to our social welfare are mandating new approaches to how we live.  Adding behavior change leadership from the private sector to that of government and public interest organizations will create a multi-faceted approach with exponential benefits.  For example, companies can:

  • Reap meaningful and measurable business performance and return on investment, ranging from market expansion opportunities and reduced costs to strengthened brand positioning and an enhanced reputation and leadership profile.
  • Advance and evolve their engagement in public good and expand the impact of many of their corporate responsibility initiatives.
  • Strengthen the increasingly important – and necessary – relationship among a thriving business enterprise, the well-being of stakeholders, and social change.

Examples in Action

On April 19, we hosted a panel discussion at Ogilvy Washington – Socially Responsible Behavior Change as a Business Imperative –  to share how some companies are already embracing the opportunity to build their business while fostering socially-responsible behavior change.   For example :

  • Opower works with utilities to help them meet their efficiency goals by getting their customers to use less energy.
  • Starbucks promotes composting by providing coffee grounds to consumers to take home for their composts.
  • Energizer prompts consumers to change their smoke detector batteries twice a year when they change their clocks for daylight savings time.
  • Allstate asks teens to pledge not to text and drive.
  • Clorox encourages consumers to regularly disinfect phones and other items in the home that are touched often to reduce the incidence of flu.

These companies are early adopters of what we see as a growing trend and a business imperative.  We are absolutely convinced that businesses that engage consumers and other stakeholders in socially-beneficial behavior change stand to enjoy meaningful benefits to their bottom lines.  And we believe that the engagement of the private sector is critical to helping individuals and societies across the globe tackle the many complex and difficult problems that we face – issues like obesity, water conservation, disease prevention, and financial literacy – that will only be addressed successfully by the cooperation and involvement of all sectors.

Download the Red Paper

We invite you to join the discussion and we welcome your reactions and responses to our Red Paper.  And I invite you to connect with me directly:

A New Look at “Product”

Apr 04

“Public health is everyone’s responsibility and there is a role for all of us, working in partnership, to tackle these challenges.”
Andrew Lansley CBE MP, Secretary of State for Health, March 2011

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in the National Social Marketing Centre’s Behavior Change and Corporate Responsibility Conference in London.  While there, I was treated to a number of engaging presentations from leaders in the public and private sectors, and I enjoyed the lively discussion about the importance of corporate involvement in solving the world’s most pressing social challenges (something I personally strongly support).

Regarding this latter point, one presentation in particular, has really stuck with me.  It was Tabitha Brufal’s discussion of the goals, structure, and activities to date of the U.K. Department of Health’s Public Health Responsibility Deal.

The Public Health Responsibility Deal is the U.K. government’s initiative to engage corporations in committing to specific actions that support public health goals within the alcohol, food, physical activity, and “health at work” arenas.  As can be expected, the Responsibility Deal has not been free of criticism, with some detractors saying that the motives of corporate partners aren’t “purely altruistic.”

My response:  why do they have to be?

If we lived in a world without wine and beer, without chocolate and cheese, and without televisions, movie screens and laptops, perhaps we would be healthier.  But that is not the world we live in.  For most of us, these “pleasures” surround us, every day.  We work long hours, care for children and aging parents, and try to find time for friends and leisure activities.

Against this backdrop, it’s easy to over-indulge and under-exercise.  Initiatives that make it easier, more accessible, and more enjoyable to make healthier choices are critically important.  And that’s where the corporate sector, their marketing muscle, and their “products” can contribute.

The companies participating in the Responsibility Deal to date have pledged to make fundamental changes in their products, in their workplaces, and in their marketing practices.  Alcohol manufacturers are reformulating products to lower the alcohol content, and encouraging retailers to promote these lower alcohol versions.  Food manufacturers are reducing salt, trans fats, and calories in their products.  Companies are offering workplace smoking cessation programs, health checks, and physical activity opportunities — and they are stocking their on-site cafeterias with healthier foods and supporting community-wide initiatives to promote active travel (e.g., biking, walking) to/from work.

It makes sense that so many of these efforts involve re-imagining a product or service… after all, products and services are the lifeblood of corporations.  But what struck me so clearly last week was how truly critical it is for the private sector to be encouraged to create innovative new products and services that make it more accessible — and more enjoyable — for all of us to make healthier choices every day.  And how crucial it is for public health leaders to invite corporate leaders to sit at the same table, share goals, and identify opportunities to collaborate and achieve a meaningful impact.

Sure, companies will likely reap some benefits from this collaboration that are not directly related to the public health challenge at hand.  But isn’t this “value exchange” one of the cornerstones of social marketing?  Don’t we promise benefits like:  in exchange for  choosing fruit over candy you will feel better, have more energy, lose weight, etc.?.   Or, as seen in action at the conference: in exchange for your active participation in this afternoon’s discussion, we’ll grab a pint across the street at the end of the day.

In my view, the world’s most challenging public health issues will never be solved unless all parties with a role to play come together and truly collaborate.  It’s time for us to look through a different lens, focusing on where the goals and objectives of the public and private sectors intersect.  It’s a win for individuals struggling to make healthier choices.  It’s a win for society and the public’s health.  And it’s a win for corporations seeking to differentiate themselves from their competition, create innovative products and services, and grow their business.

The Intersection of Cause Involvement and Behavior Change

Jul 16

When designing interventions for behavior change, the first things that usually come to mind are how to remove the barriers to action, how to increase self-efficacy, or even if the external conditions are favorable for the adoption of the desired behavior. Not often do we consider that involvement in causes can actually trigger individual behavior changes.

However, new findings from the Dynamics of Cause Engagement study revealed that more than half of Americans say they have changed their behavior because of their involvement in a cause.

Voting is the number one behavior change triggered by cause involvement across all ages, ethnicities and genders. Environmentally conscious actions (e.g., changing recycling habits, becoming more energy efficient) are also near the top of the list, while health-related behaviors (e.g., visiting a medical professional, requesting a specific medical test) fall lower.

Our study also found interesting differences by ethnicity and gender when it comes to cause-driven behavior change. While Caucasians are more likely to report changes in environmentally conscious behavior, African Americans are more likely to have visited a doctor or medical professional as a result of their involvement in a cause. Women are significantly more likely than men to say they have changed their behavior due to cause involvement (55% vs. 48%), including environmentally conscious actions and health-related behaviors.

These results were presented for the first time at the 21st Annual Social Marketing in Public Health Conference.

During the presentation, we suggested some strategies to motive behavior change through cause involvement. We also shared some real-life examples of how practitioners are applying these strategies.

Here is a sneak preview of the strategies:

1. Provide multiple touch points for support expression

2. Motivate story sharing

3. Reinforce a sense of community

4. Empower supporters

5. Foster an emotional connection

To download the full presentation click here.

Surprised by the findings?  Please share your thoughts.

For more information on the study, click here and stay tuned for the upcoming release of the final report.

Personal Communication Still Drives Word of Mouth on Causes

Jun 15

Quiz of the day: What is the most typical way in which people tell others about social issues and causes they want them to get involved with?

a)      In person

b)      Over the phone

c)       Via text messages

d)      Via social networking messages and invites

e)      Via personal emails or email forwards

The answer: a) in person!

New findings from the Dynamics of Cause Engagement study show that nearly two-thirds of Americans (62%) report that being told in person is the way they are typically informed about causes others want them to be involved with.

These offline conversations about causes are the most prominent across generations. Even younger Americans, generations Y (ages 18 to 29) and X (ages 30 to 45) report this face-to-face engagement –56% and 59%, respectively.

Our study also found that, while generations Y and X are more likely than older Americans to use social media to learn about causes, family, friends and TV news programs still remain their top sources of information.

Social media promotional activities such as joining a cause group or contributing to a blog are also not on the top of the list of ways younger Americans engage with causes.  Rather, the more historically prominent types of engagement including donating, learning more about the cause and volunteering remain the most often ways the ways generations Y and X get involved with causes.


Does it mean that younger Americans don’t believe in the power of social media to support causes?  No!

Nearly seven in 10 Americans age 18-29 believe that online networking sites help increase the visibility of social issues and allow people to support causes more easily. More than half (55%) also affirm that social media help them get the word out about causes.


These findings suggest that, despite the growing popularity of social media tools and their great potential to engage supporters – particularly the younger ones—the “traditional” forms of learning and talking about social issues and engaging with causes remain extremely relevant.

Want to learn more about how the different generations learn about and engage with causes? Click here and download the full release.

How alike and different are Caucasians, African Americans and Hispanics when it comes to supporting causes?

May 31

How alike and different are Caucasians, African Americans and Hispanics when it comes to supporting causes?

Our latest release on the study Dynamics of Cause Engagement revealed interesting similarities and differences in how people of different ethnicities engage with causes.

Among the most interesting findings is the fact that social media play a greater role in cause engagement for African Americans and Hispanics than for Caucasians.

Specifically, African Americans and Hispanics are more likely than Caucasians to believe that social networking sites help get the word out about a social issue or cause and help increase visibility for causes.  (We reported a similar finding among women in our last release.)  Nearly one in three African American adults and four in ten Hispanics say they are more likely to support a cause or social issue online than offline today—both significantly higher percentages than reported by Caucasians.  


However, it is important to notice that, across ethnicities, the historically prominent types of engagement (e.g., donating, signing petitions, volunteering) remain among the top ways Americans get involved with causes. Likewise, traditional channels of communication (e.g., television & print media, personal relationship, and websites) remain the top ways that Americans learn about causes.

Another interesting finding: the belief that supporting causes makes people feel good about themselves and creates a sense of purpose and meaning in life is shared across different ethnicities. Nevertheless, African Americans and Hispanics are significantly more likely than Caucasians to value familial cause engagement. They believe that it’s important that their families are involved with causes and said that they were actively involved in causes when growing up.  Additionally, nearly 7 in 10 African Americans and Hispanics affirm that supporting causes gives them the feeling of belonging to a community—this figure was significantly lower among Caucasians.


Interested in learning more about how the different ethnicities engage with causes? Click here and download the full release.

Stay tuned for our next release on cause involvement by generation on June 13.


Women Are Strongest Believers in the Power of Supporting Causes

May 17

This post was originally posted to Ogilvy PR’s Womenology blog.

A recent study conducted by Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide in partnership with the Center for Social Impact Communication at Georgetown University revealed the importance of supporting causes for women in the U.S.

8 in 10 women believe that supporting causes creates a sense of purpose and meaning in life and feel everyone can make a difference through their support.

Some of the key findings showcase demographic trends in the current dynamics of cause involvement.

Here are some highlights:

Study results show that women are more likely than men to believe in the capacity of individuals to make a difference in society by supporting causes.

The top three causes women are most involved with are supporting our troops, feeding the hungry and breast cancer. The two latter receive greater support from women than from men. Women are also significantly more likely to support youth-related causes like bullying and childhood obesity.

When engaging with causes, social media play a greater role for women than men:

  • Women turn to social media as a source of cause information more often than men—though for both, this lags far behind traditional TV and print media sources and personal relationships.
  • More than 6 in 10 women believe online social networking sites increase the visibility of social issues and allow people to support causes more easilythis figure is significantly lower among men.
  • Women are also more likely than men to feel that social networking sites help them get the word out about a social issue or a cause.

However, women’s engagement in causes is not limited to the social media space. In fact, women expressed that only showing support to a cause on social networking sites is not enough: almost half of women think that “Everybody ‘likes’ causes on Facebook and it doesn’t really mean anything.”

Additionally, the survey revealed that the more historically prominent types of engagement (e.g., donating, learning more about the cause and signing a petition) remain the “most often” means of cause involvement for both women and men.

If you are interested in learning more, click here to download the full fact sheet and stay tuned as we continue to release additional findings from this study in the upcoming weeks:

  • May 31 – Cause Involvement by Ethnicity
  • June 13 – Cause Involvement by Generation
  • June 30 – Cause Involvement and Behavior Change