Social marketing for injury prevention is an innovative approach to public health messaging.

Social marketing applies traditional marketing principles to influence behaviour to achieve a greater public/social good.1, 2


Social marketing starts with the idea that preventing serious injury, illness, or death begins with an individual’s decision to change their behaviour, lifestyle, or choices.

In public health, social marketing is used to influence a product, a practice, whether continued or one-time, or an attitude or belief. The term “social marketing” was coined by Philip Kotler in 1971. Since then, social marketing strategies have been used for various public health topics, including smoking cessation, contraceptives, healthy eating, and heart disease.3

Social marketing starts with consumer testing and formative research and analysis of the market and delivery formats, followed by design and implementation and finally, evaluation. In practice, social marketing is delivered through advertising, mass media, out-of-home-media, social media, and other public platforms.

‘Social marketing’ is an approach to persuade people to accept ideas and attitudes, perform healthy behaviours, refer to health facilities, and receive health products.4


The Community Against Preventable Injuries (Preventable)

Since 2009, BCIRPU has served as a strategic partner to Preventable, a social marketing campaign in British Columbia to change attitudes and behaviours to reduce the burden of serious preventable injuries.

The Preventable approach is to shift attitudes and transform behaviours towards serious preventable injuries without shocking or shaming people, and ultimately to reduce the human and financial burden caused by these injuries. Preventable recognizes that attitudes and behaviours towards preventable injuries in one context (e.g. at work) can have an effect on attitudes and behaviours towards injuries in other contexts (e.g. outside of work), and vice versa. Based on three years of formative research, Preventable serves to provide a reminder at the “moment of risk”—at the time and place where a potential injury can happen.

Preventable delivers innovative campaigns and calls attention to that little voice inside your head that knows that sometimes, injuries can (and do) happen to good people. The campaign is making a difference: British Columbians are more aware than ever that injuries—from crashes, falls, poisoning, drowning, and others—are preventable, and that our attitudes about how we approach everyday risks at home, at work, at play, and on the road have a significant role to play in prevention.

In addition to the shifts in attitude, BC has seen a significant reduction in injury-related deaths in both the 0-24 and 25-54 year-old age groups since the campaign launched in 2009. This translates into a 9% reduction among 25-54 year-olds, 27% reduction among 0-24 year-olds, and approximately 5 fewer injury deaths per year.1


Since 2009, Preventable has changed attitudes and behaviours towards preventable injuries in BC.

Preventable’s “Yellow Lines” Campaign

Preventable’s latest campaign urges people to pay attention to the yellow lines that exist to protect us and show us when to watch out, like on our roads or on SkyTrain platforms. It also reminds us that yellow lines don’t prevent injuries from happening—we do.

The multi-platform campaign consists of TV commercials, public service announcements, billboards, digital ads, and social media.


Recreational Boating in British Columbia

In March 2020, BCIRPU successfully wrapped up a three-year project to explore attitudes and behaviours around recreational boating safety in BC. We would like to thank Transport Canada for the generous funding and our project partners: The Community Against Preventable Injuries, Lifesaving Society, and Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue.

The recreational boating safety project developed, delivered, and evaluated a social marketing campaign to raise awareness, transform attitudes, and ultimately change behaviours to reduce boating injuries.

Learn more about Recreational Boating Safety. 


1. Smith J, Zheng X, Lafreniere K, Pike I. (2018). Social marketing to address attitudes and behaviors related to preventable injuries in British Columbia, Canada. Inj Prev, 0:1-8. Doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2017-042651.

2. Bach C, Alnajar EM. (2016). The Impact of Social Marketing on Public Behavior. European Journal of Engineering Research and Science, 1(5). Accessed

3. Walsh DC, Rudd RE, Moeykens BA, Moloney TW (1993). Social Marketing for Public Health. Health Affairs, 12(2). Available from:

4. Shams M. (2018). “Social Marketing for Health: Theoretical and Conceptual Considerations.” Selected Issues in Global Health Communications. doi: 10.5772/intechopen.76509