Social Marketing is not a new concept. In his 1952 article G. D. Wiebe asked “Why can’t you sell brotherhood like you sell soap?” But is it possible that the practice of social marketing could reach back as far as Victorian England? Author Jayne Krisjanous discusses the roots of social marketing in her research on the “Lights in Darkest England” match campaign in late nineteenth century London. Her article entitled “Examining the Historical Roots of Social Marketing Through the Lights in Darkest England Campaign” is available now in the OnlineFirst section of Journal of Macromarketing.
This article discusses the “Lights in Darkest England” (LIDE) match campaign, rolled out by General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army in London’s East End 1891-1901. The purpose is to draw comparison between this campaign and the definition and principles of social marketing as they are understood today. A case study approach is used. First the Victorian match industry is described and then the Lights in Darkest England campaign is compared with the elements considered integral to an effective social marketing approach. The Lights in Darkest England match brand was not successful as a commercial enterprise based on sales of matches from the dedicated match factory. However, profit from match sales was not the main intent of this commercial endeavour. Rather, improvement in the harsh working conditions of Victorian match industry workers and the alleviation of phossy jaw were the key objectives. In this regard, the campaign was influential in the interplay between the marketing systems and society of the day. By examining the historical roots of contemporary social marketing a valuable contribution is made to the future development and sustainability of social marketing into the future.
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