Social marketing campaigns for youth gambling prevention: Lessons learned from youth

Abstract

Youth gambling is an important, although often overlooked adolescent health issue. Media-based prevention programs have long been employed as tools to address high risk behaviours, namely drug, alcohol and tobacco use, as well as sexual health. However, social marketing has yet to be drawn upon as a strategy to address problem gambling among adolescents. This strategy would appear to be especially relevant given the recent rise in the portrayal of gambling in the mass media, often glamorizing and normalizing games and practices. The authors aimed to examine the use of social marketing as a strategy for gambling prevention among adolescent. A qualitative study using focus groups was conducted to explore adolescents' exposure to existing prevention campaigns and their message content and communication preferences for a youth gambling social marketing campaign. Social marketing advertisements, depicting real-life stories with an emotional appeal, that portrayed the negative consequences associated with a gambling problem were highly endorsed by participants. Participants further recommended illustrating the basic facts of gambling using simple messages that raise awareness in a non-judgmental manner. Adolescents are critical of the "don't do it" message as this approach does not reflect the current youth gambling culture. It is expected that this study serve as a source for the development of future social marketing campaigns on youth gambling. Targeting variable and campaign strategies recommended herein should be considered in the early stages and tested along the way.

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