College Drinking Prevention: A Social Marketing Approach

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Editor’s note: We are pleased to welcome Erika Beseler Thompson, assistant director for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention Programs at North Dakota State University. Her article, “The Impact of a Student-Driven Social Marketing Campaign on College Student Alcohol-Related Beliefs and Behaviors,” co-authored by Frank Heley, Laura Oster-Aaland, Sherri Nordstrom Stastny, and Elizabeth Crisp Crawford, all of NDSU, was published in the March 2013 issue of Social Marketing Quarterly.

smqIn the spring of 2010, the NDSU President’s Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs enlisted the help of communication students in Dr. Elizabeth Crawford’s advertising practicum course to create a social marketing campaign that focuses on reducing the consequences of students’ high-risk drinking decisions. This “Before One More” campaign was intended to help students understand when one more drink can become one too many, and teaches them how to make lower-risk decisions related to alcohol consumption.

The council was thrilled to have students involved in the creation and implementation of this campaign and felt this involvement and the resultant enthusiasm would lead to a more impactful campaign and reductions in high-risk drinking behaviors. We decided to assess the campaign to determine whether it was impactful in its current form or if changes were needed.

The study findings confirmed what we had suspected – using students to tailor socially relevant messages for their peers led to increased acceptance and fit of the message. Unsurprisingly, we also found that the more interactive elements of the campaign were more engaging to students and those students who were already low or moderate-risk drinkers (versus abstainers or high-risk drinkers) were most affected by the campaign messages.

The results of this study have been used to make changes to the “Before One More” campaign to increase its appeal and effectiveness with our students.

Click here to read the paper, “The Impact of a Student-Driven Social Marketing Campaign on College Student Alcohol-Related Beliefs and Behaviors,” in Social Marketing Quarterly.

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