Partnerships Within the Marketing Mix

The orchestration of  a social marketing campaign involves the strategic coordination of many moving parts. As explained in a previous post, social marketing goes beyond the communication of messages and involves a mix of elements including product. Consider the following quote:

Product, not promotion, is the most important component of the marketing mix. Offer them benefits, not just fear. Offer them a tangible good or service to help them perform a behavior, not just a brochure. Adopt these principles and you shall win. – Dr. Sameer Deshpande, University of Lethbridge

The formation of partnerships is an essential component of incorporating and utilizing the marketing mix. For example, if you are working on a campaign to increase arts participation for children, you might partner with a local community center to provide youth art classes (actual product). Partnerships are beneficial throughout all stages of the social marketing process and can occur within all areas of the marketing mix. Ultimately, the formation of partnerships is a useful tool for leveraging resources and ensuring the overall effectiveness of a strategic campaign.

The Arts and Partnerships: Something We’re Pretty Good At! 

While arts organizations may have a lot to learn when it comes to implementing social marketing principles to boost support for the arts as a public good, leveraging resources through partnerships is an area where the arts tend to thrive. In a field where resources are consistently scarce, arts organizations have learned to adapt by utilizing the many benefits of partnership opportunities.


The #ArtsMatter campaign is a great example of how multiple partnerships can be used to leverage resources in the design and implementation of a campaign. Initiated by the  LA Fund in October 2012, the #ArtsMatter campaign was created to raise awareness and generate support surrounding the imperative for arts education in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). When the campaign was launched, only 2% of elementary school instructional time in LAUSD was being devoted to the arts.

“The LA Fund led a citywide campaign to drive public awareness for the critical role of arts education in LAUSD, leveraging social media and partnerships with industry leaders and leading artists to support arts integration programming in LAUSD.” – LA Fund webiste

First, the LA Fund formed a partnership with key members of the LAUSD Board of Education, who committed institutional support for increasing arts education. Next, the LA Fund leveraged board member connections to form partnerships with Clear Channel Outdoor (one of the world’s largest outdoor advertising companies) and prominent artists Barbara KrugerJohn Baldessari, and Shepard Fairey. Using these resources, the LA Fund was able to implement one of the widest reaching public art projects in Los Angeles history.


The artists created a series of eye-catching pieces, specifically designed for billboards and buswraps, that were widely viewed throughout LA.


Ultimately, the campaign raised awareness as well as donation funds in support of arts education. The funds raised from the campaign enabled the creation of a new LAUSD 5-year arts plan, “Arts at the Core.” In addition, the LA Fund partnered with some of LA’s major cultural institutions, including LACMA and the J. Paul Getty Museum, to create several arts integration pilot programs in select LAUSD schools.

Clearly, partnerships can manifest in a variety of ways. Leveraging resources through the formation of key partnerships is what led to the ultimate success of the #ArtsMatter campaign. As arts leaders seek to integrate social marketing principles in the implementation of campaigns, it is important to keep sight of the role, value, and importance of partnerships.