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Case Studies in Social Marketing

Grant recipient: Jennifer Lynes, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development

Project team: Jennifer Lynes and Stephanie Whitney*, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development
*Graduate Student Research Assistant

(Completed.  Project Timeline: August 2012 - July 2013)

Project description

Photo Jennifer Lynes The purpose of this project was to develop case studies in the field of social marketing for use in both upper-year undergraduate and graduate level classes, as well as for publication in academic literature. Case studies allow instructors to engage students in rich classroom discussion (in both live and online settings) and also assess students’ ability to synthesize, evaluate, and apply the theory learned in lectures and course materials to real world situations.



Two case studies were developed during this project. The first featured Ethical Ocean, an online marketplace for ethical goods, struggling to balance growth/increased sales and brand reputation/customer satisfaction. The Ethical Ocean Case Study was submitted to the 2013 OIKOS Case Study Writing Competition and also used in the 2013 delivery of ENBUS 630, a core course in the Master of Environment and Business (MEB) program. This case study was well-received by the ENBUS 630 students, and served as the basis for class discussion about marketing strategy, consumer segmentation, and ethical consumerism. The students liked the combination of case study, videos and ‘live’ interaction with the main character from the case study (see 8a. below for more details). This case study was delivered in Spring 2013 term.  We will be conducting some follow-up research about the case study with the students who took this course.

The second case highlighted the development of celebrity musician Jack Johnson’s All At Once Campaign and compared the steps taken by the band to green its concert tours and foster positive environmental behavior of Jack’s fans to psychologist Doug MacKenzie Mohr’s Community-Based Social Marketing framework. This case study assessed the key factors leading to the success of the AAO Campaign and the degree to which the CBSM five-step framework was directly applied and/or served as inspiration in the development and implementation of the band’s greening and fan outreach initiatives, particularly the partnerships with non-profit organizations at each concert location during the 2008 and 2010 world tours.

Dissemination and impact

One case study was used in Masters level course (May-Aug 2013) taught at uW. We decided to trial something new with this case study by first splitting the class of 23 students into groups of approximately five students. They were all given the case study, as well as the videos we had prepared about the Ethical Ocean case study. We invited Jon Fishbein of Ethical Ocean in as a guest lecturer for the course (delivered through CEL). Each group then had to develop three questions related to the case study that they would want to ask someone at Ethical Ocean and post them to the Ethical Ocean discussion forum on LEARN. Jon then provided detailed responses to these questions.

The Jack Johnson study has expanded into a project for ENBUS 402 (the environment and business student’s capstone course which involves a student team working on an eight-month project). The focus of this project is on assessing Jack Johnson’s ‘All at Once 2.0’ which is about to launch as he starts his 2013 world tour in September 2013.

Both case studies were shared with multi-disciplinary group at uW (April 2013) during the Ivey Case Study Writing Workshop.   We have created a series of video interviews with the Chief Technology Officer of Ethical Ocean, Jon Fishbein, which are available for department use.  

The Jack Johnson case study was presented at the 2013 World Social Marketing Conference in Toronto, and a publication was submitted to a special edition of Journal of Social Marketing (invitation only) as part of the conference proceedings – anticipated publication in early 2014. This research will enrich the discipline of social marketing by filling a gap in academic literature on the application of social marketing theory in the music industry. The case study was also presented at the Leading Social Change conference in April, 2013. This conference involved 300 practitioners in Ontario.

Presentation materials

Leading Social Change Conference (pdf)

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