What can we learn from campaigns to market taboo items?
Dear Engaged Bystander: I think that some of my best work is when I step out of the sexual violence prevention world and see how others are making a difference. I am on a social marketing list serve which talks about how to use private sector marketing concepts (e.g., the 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion) to make the world a better place. I recently saw a posting by Craig Lefebvre about how “social taboos suppress discussion of many details about life: bodily functions, sexual problems, and other socially stigmatizing conditions. Discomfort with these topics compromises our health and short-circuits our quality of life by keeping important information in the dark.”
By listening carefully, you can be early to discover subjects that carry social stigma in your particular business domain. What topics are discussed only behind closed doors?
Create brands that initiate discussion, build trust, and share information. Design activities, forums, or tools that engage the full emotional range.
Break with social convention and give people permission to engage taboo topics in new and invigorating ways. Supply them with new language to name their needs.
Not everyone is yearning to be liberated from a taboo. Give people alternatives that accommodate the distance they’d like to maintain.