The Marketing Matrix: Why I’m not lovin' it, will not just do it, and, sure as hell, will never be worth it

Professor Gerard Hastings OBE, Professor of Social Marketing, University of Stirling and the Open University and L’École des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique

Co-presented with the Charles Perkins Centre and Sydney Law School at the University of Sydney

28 April, 2014

In the hands of the corporate sector, marketing is turning us into spoilt, consumption-obsessed children who are simultaneously wrecking our bodies, psyches and planet.

Our physical health is assailed by junk food, sugary drinks and cheap alcohol – with tobacco still garnering its grim toll. Our mental health is undermined by a system that lauds perpetual satisfaction, promotes crass material solutions to complex human problems, rewards wealth however selfishly amassed and encourages a corrosive ‘because you’re worth it’ sense of entitlement. The result is a toxic combination of spiritual poverty and material inequality that is undermining us both individually and collectively. At a planetary level our species is now under perilous threat from a system that remorselessly converts a presumed necessity for business growth into compulsive consumption. While ecologists plead in vain for us to abandon our addiction to stuff, corporate marketers seduce us into making ever more shopping trips.

It need not be like this. This pathological system depends on our collaboration; we can and must challenge it. The fight back has begun.

Professor Gerard Hastings

Professor Gerard Hastings is Professor of Social Marketing at Stirling, the Open University and L’École des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique, Rennes. He is founder of the Institute for Social Marketing and Centre for Tobacco Control Research. His academic career has focused on researching the impact of marketing on society – both for good and ill. This has involved him in advising Government and working with policy makers and civil society both nationally and internationally.

Gerard was appointed as a Special Advisor to the House of Commons Health Select Committee during its separate enquiries into the tobacco (2000), food (2004), pharmaceutical (2005), and alcohol industries (2010); he has acted as a Temporary Advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) on both communicable and non-communicable disease, and he headed the team that did the world’s first systematic review on the impact of food advertising on childhood obesity (later updated twice for the WHO). He has also acted as an expert witness in litigation against the tobacco industry. In December 2013 it was announced that the University of Stirling has won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for the ground-breaking social marketing research conducted by the Institute for Social Marketing.

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This public event was part of two-part symposium, presented by the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and Sydney Law School - Who’s Afraid of the Nanny State? Freedom, regulation and the nation’s health

The ‘nanny state’ has become a familiar phrase in debates about what government ought to do, and not do, in its efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of the population. This symposium considers the rightful role of government in this controversial issue.