News | 30 January 2020

The best public awareness campaigns from the NHS

This month, the NHS released their latest public awareness campaign which forms part of their #HelpusHelpYou initiative.
Its aim: To reeducate people to visit their pharmacy rather than GP for small ailments. It is a fun video that uses blockbuster-esque clips of people over reacting on small ailments. The movie theme carries over into three dramatic film posters, which will be displayed in pharmacies, GP practices and other health settings across the country.

From what we have seen on the digital front, we think it’s a nice campaign that reminds us of how, for all the slack it receives, the NHS does deliver some very important and powerful public awareness campaigns. We had a look back at a few that were punchy:

‘We are the NHS’ Campaign - 2018 - Ongoing

Last year, the NHS started a well needed recruitment drive with their ‘We are the NHS’ Campaign. Tying in nicely to the NHS’ 70th Birthday, the campaign aims to highlight the valuable and varied nursing roles available. TV adverts featuring lots of different nurses doing their jobs were supported by a strong social media campaign #wearethenhs where people shared their stories of why they loved what they do and some behind the scene footage of what the roles really entail to hopefully fight some of the negative press from recent years.

What we like: Incredibly emotive and ‘on trend’ the adverts were effective in showing the varied and crucial role of nurses. It used real nurses and managed to hit different emotive responses in short clips. There are many different adverts, each focusing on a different target audience and different nursing roles. For example there is one focused on recruiting young male nurses which attempts to diminish stereotypes about nursing being a feminine or boring role. The social media campaign that supports this appears to work well too, with lots of districts and other influencers using the hashtag and using this to promote jobs.

NHS Virtual Blood Donation - 2016

Big out of home advertising showed people who were looking very ill as they needed blood donations. You, the viewer, could then interact with that person, by putting a sticker on your arm (where the blood would be taken) and through the camera on your phone using augmented reality to show blood being taken from your arm. As you start giving blood virtually, the blood bag on the OOH advert would begin to fill up and at the same time and amazingly the blood recipient gets better infront of your eyes.

What we like: The NHS often gets a bit of unfair slack for being outdated but it was back in 2016 and they were using augmented reality effectively. It demonstrated the power of blood donations in an engaging way. It used insight - the fact that people don’t see where the blood goes so they don’t see the real value- and data- the out of home was in places where blood donations were low- in a simple idea. We liked the mix of out of home and digital. It was effective too; 77,000 views online in the first few months and 600 new donors signed up during the activation days.

Missing Type International - 2017

Another blood related one- but this time on a global scale. This Global public awareness campaign for blood shortages involved 23 donor organisations from over 20 countries. This was a multi-channel campaign with the letters A, B and O disappearing from various landmarks, brands, companies, signs, logos and social media profiles. This was to highlight the missing blood types from blood banks and how much we need these types and letters.

What we like: A truly global campaign with countries localising it so that is resonated with their local markets. The scale of execution was pretty impressive, 1500 partnerships. It engaged a multitude of well known brands and got the message across in a way which undeniably stands out but is also perfectly simple.

GoodThinking website and London mental health 2017 Ok this one is less visually creative. Each week, there is one million people in London who are likely to be suffering from poor mental health, a lot of which goes unnoticed and unsupported. Early intervention has proven benefits, so encouraging people to seek the right help at early signs could have a hugely positive effect. Digital intervention was key as Londoners were much more likely to use search, websites and social media to self diagnose. Good Thinking website was launched to assist Londoners on mental health and provide support earlier in the journey. There was a wealth of data and insight on Londoners which showed that users needs differ and personalisation was key. This lead to a micro-targeted paid search strategy to ensure that the website was targeted to the right audience. It had very good results too, 40,000 website visits in the first couple of months and Adwords delivered 10,000 clicks at a low CPC. Average 2.5 mins on-site - which hopefully meant lots of Londoners were helped.

What we like: It shows the multiple channels that the NHS is using for public awareness campaigns. It also shows that local and regional public awareness campaigns are important. It was impressive that PPC was used to target people in the ‘unaware’ stage of mental health symptoms and move them into the aware stage via the website. They also used it to promote the NHS voice and give immediate visibility to medically-backed sources. We have all self-diagnosed an illness using a search engine before - nothing worse than googling an earache and then feeling convinced that you have 25 terminal illnesses. It also shows the benefits of really analysing the data you have and using it to provide informed insights on your target audiences.

Author
Jasmin Gerrard,
Senior Account Manager