Beginning in high school and into my first year of college, this issue of fighting child sex trafficking captured my heart. I continued studying this topic and digging deeper to find out the real story behind the issue. I pondered possible solutions to this complex problem day in and day out. This was one topic of interest I couldn’t get out of my head.
One day after watching an “Above the Influence” commercial about tabacco use by teens, I realized how mainstream marketers are both powerful and subtle in their advertising tactics. I’ve always had an interest in commercials and their power over consumers, but these commercials were different. I never knew that commercials could be used for anything other than selling a product for profit. As I researched “Above the Influence” commercials I learned that this type of marketing is considered social marketing. The idea of anti-sex trafficking campaigns effectively using social marketing inspired me to write my first college research paper on these two topics. Here is an excerpt:
Social marketing uses the concepts and strategies of traditional marketing to bring about change within society. In other words, the same strategies used by typical marketers to sell a product, are used by social marketers to sell an idea that will benefit society rather than the marketer themselves. The strategy can be used to promote safer driving, recycling, planned pregnancy and many other positive habits. If social marketing can be used for all of these other national issues and has delivered results, there's no reason why we shouldn't use it to empower the 293,000 young females who have already been classified by the U.S. Department of Justice, as potential victims of sexual exploitation. Why can’t we sell the idea that confidence, high self-esteem and self-worth as something that can be attained by anyone? This can be a very effective way of spreading hope for these young girls and maybe the tracks of this horrible dilemma can finally be slowly cut off.
I love the saying, “if you want to cut down a tree, you cannot start by picking at the leaves and tugging at the branches.” I think this is applicable to using social marketing to fight sex trafficking. Although the effects of this method are fairly influential, it will take time to see change. Cutting down the tree at the roots is a harder process and requires patience and endurance in order to see results, but the final outcome is very significant. If this tactic of social marketing is embraced by all, there could actually be hope that this aspect of the marketplace could be used as a positive force for good.