Client: NHS Coventry
PR team: Ice
Timescale: January-March 2010
NHS Coventry asked social marketing and communications agency Ice to create and deliver The Big Pledge, the city's biggest ever initiative to help people stop smoking.
- To increase the number of referrals made to stop-smoking services
- To increase demand for local stop-smoking services ahead of the launch of a service to be offered in supermarkets and pharmacies
- To help people stop smoking.
Strategy and plan
Ice wanted to focus on engaging pregnant women, routine and manual workers, and young people. The pledge was launched city-wide with the challenge: 'We pledge to help you stop smoking, what will you pledge?'
A range of creatives were designed in a fun, colourful style depicting the three target audiences so people could identify with 'people like me'. Ice ran adverts on buses and taxis illustrating real people from within the target groups making personal pledges about why they were stopping smoking.
The campaign was launched in Coventry city centre with Stephen Jones, CEO of NHS Coventry, in January to tie in with the trigger point of New Year resolutions for potential quitters. The launch involved the unveiling of The Big Pledge bus and a dedicated pledge website, which allowed people to make their personal pledges online. A partnership was set up with Mercia Radio, which lent support to the campaign.
The branded Big Pledge Bus toured for two weeks, stopping at key locations such as children's centres, nurseries, shopping centres, university campuses and industrial estates. An on-street team provided information, advice and activities such as lung age tests and CO2 monitors. Trained smoking intervention staff offered help to people thinking of taking up the challenge, and produced 'aged photos' that illustrated the impact of smoking on a person's looks. The PR team linked up with Coventry Healthy Schools to distribute pledge packs to families through schools.
During the roadshow the PR team put together partnerships with community media such as hospital radio and university newspapers.
The campaign was also promoted internally to NHS staff as well as stakeholders and partners such as the local authority, through internal communications to staff and articles in local magazines, newsletters and websites.
Measurement and evaluation
The campaign was covered extensively in regional press and broadcast media and articles also appeared in all Coventry's local papers. Over the two-week roadshow period more than 900 people visited the Big Pledge bus for information and advice. Of these, 460 were referred to a stop- smoking service.
Over an eight-week period, The Big Pledge campaign generated more than 850 pledges from individuals and groups to stop smoking.
SECOND OPINION - Mark Cater, MD, Chamberlain PR
This campaign reminds me of a similar one I read about in the Leicester area recently. In the Leicester case a campaign was created to target an area of the city where smokers were double the national average and nine in ten people were living in a household with at least one smoker. Through a multiple stakeholder campaign, the local NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT) increased end-user access to NHS services by 13 per cent and encouraged nearly 1,500 smokers to set a quit date in the process.
Focused local campaigns are effective because people tend to listen to other people like them and are generally more motivated to take action as a consequence. There is a load of available data that shows how people are more likely to listen to health messages crafted with them in mind. What is most surprising is that NHS support (in combination with a pharmaceutical intervention) can make a smoker up to four times more likely to quit for good and this surely is a story worth telling over again. It's also a formula that can be reapplied to other situations like heart attack, stroke and sexual health.
After reading this campaign and casting my mind back to the Leicester case, if I were a PCT manager looking at where best to invest my efforts, I would be setting out to analyse all of the data from these highly measurable local awareness campaigns to identify the triggers and commonalities. I would then be reproducing these campaigns in my own area.