2021 has been a momentous year with social shocks including the COVID pandemic, continued global warming, civil rights tensions and political unrest and conflicts in many countries. In these challenging times social marketers have been making a significant and sustained contribution to addressing these issues and the ongoing challenges associated with many other complex social problems and challenges including non-communicable disease, road safety mental health and civic engagement.

2021 has also been a year of change for iSMA with four new members being elected to the Board; Christene Jennings, (Chair of the Professional development committee) from the USA, Saud Alrakhayes from Kuwait, (Our new chair of Communications committee), Sharyn Rundle-Thiele from Australia (Our new  Vice President)  and myself from the UK. We have also been extremely fortunate that Angela Markis (USA and Greece) has stepped forward to act as iSMA secretary, and Karis Schoellmann continues her vital work as the iSMA treasurer. This year has also seen our previous President Patrick Cook and our past secretary Jenifer Wayman step down from the roles they have held for the last three years. On behalf of all our members and affiliated associations I want to say a massive thanks to these colleagues for all the great work they have done to develop iSMA and support its affiliated associations in our joint work of capturing and spreading good practice in Social Marketing.

During the year we have seen a large number of developments in the application of Social Marketing around the globe. iSMA have been delighted to see the setting up of specialist Social Marketing Centres in France and Japan, and the establishment of new social marketing networks and groups in Africa, Asia, Italy, Spain and France as well as the expansion of many of the existing social marketing academic institutions and practice specialist around the world. iSMA has been actively working to support and promote these institutions and groups throughout 2021. It has also been gratifying to see that Social Marketing is being increasingly seen as a field with added value that should be incorporated into the development and delivery of all social programmes. Examples of this impact can be seen in the representation of Social Marketing experts on the WHO behavioral change advisory committee, the inclusion of Social Marketing to inform UN  UNITAR) vaccine uptake, health focused coalition building and road safety interventions as well as numerous country initiatives that have  included Social Marketing experts on policy advisory panels.

To support this work iSMA Professional Development committee chaired by Christene Jennings has this year delivered a series of freely accessible webinars covering a wide range of topics and also further developed iSMA’s training offerings on key concepts of social marketing. This year has seen the establishment of two new working groups and committees aimed at further developing good practice in social marketing. Sharyn Rundle-Thiele has this year begun to establish a new working committee focused on developing professional standards of practice and as part of this task a targeted working group has been set up chaired by ‘Krzysztof Kubacki’ to develop from the existing iSMA statement of ethics a code of professional conduct for the field.
The iSMA communication committee chaired by Saud Alrakhayes has also completed work on the associations new website and has through the associations social media channels promoted social marketing practice, research and awareness. This year further progress has been made on our goal to consolidate membership databases of regional associations and iSMA to enable a streamlining of joining and membership management process for existing and new members.

None of this work would be possible without the tireless efforts of the iSMA Boards and the many volunteers who work on iSMA committees and working groups. A special thanks goes out to Carlos Santos who has done a great job of recruiting volunteers on behalf of the Board. This year also saw the integration of the ’Into Orbit’ initiative established by Nancy Lee (USA, one of iSMA’s longest serving Board members) that had recruited over twenty volunteers to help promote Social Marketing with existing iSMA working groups and committees and in so doing improved coordination and provided more volunteering time to promote the application of social marketing.

In the coming year iSMA will be concentrating on the following key tasks in support of practitioners, policy makers and academics around the world:

  • We will continue to build iSMA into a well-connected and mutually supportive federation of regional and country member associations.
  • Improved iSMA governance, elections and reporting.
  • Expanded the integration of Social Marketing with behavior change communication communities by partnering with the Global Alliance for Social and Behavior Change, the World Social Marketing Conference and other national and regional conferences. We will also continue our partnership with Social Marketing Quarterly and developing new alliances with other international organizations that are aligned with iSMA mission to promote and spread good practice in Social Marketing.

If you are already a member of iSMA or one of its affiliated associations please contact us to see how you can help further promote Social Marketing we are always looking for new ideas and volunteers to help us implement them. If you are not yet a member, please do join your local Social Marketing association or if there is not one locally talk to us about how e can help you set one up.

We look forward to working with you in 2022 and beyond.