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The social marketing paradox: challenges and opportunities for the disciplineThis paper contributes to emerging discourse about the ongoing challenges and opportunities of social marketing as a discipline. The paper presents a qualitative perspective on existing challenges faced by social marketing and offers suggestions for addressing these challenges. Nine semi-structured interviews with social marketing academics and practitioners from six different countries were conducted. Thematic analysis was used to analyse and interpret the qualitative data. The study provides insight into existing challenges for social marketing, classified into three key themes according to their position within or outside of the discipline: 1) poor branding of the discipline as an internal challenge, 2) competing disciplines as an external challenge, and 3) overall reach of the discipline, seen as both an internal and external challenge. The findings suggest that social marketing needs to overcome poor branding issues to sufficiently address external challenges. We conclude by arguing for a more robust marketing of the discipline. While scholars have identified the challenges and opportunities for social marketing as a discipline, they have paid little attention to examining these challenges from the viewpoint of expert practitioners and academics. This paper presents a nuanced contextual understanding of the identified challenges through a qualitative perspective and explores how social marketing can overcome these challenges.