A flavour of Red Door Communication's work

Treat Yourself Better Without Antibiotics for Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) and Pharmacy Voice.

What did this client want Red Door Communications to do for them?

Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem. In the UK over 60% of antibiotic prescriptions are written by GPs for people with upper respiratory tract infections. Even though they know they are ineffective, GPs find it hard to say no because patients "shop around" for another GP or worse they go to A&E. That increases pressure and costs for the NHS. 

Additionally, research shows that people are not aware of the normal symptom duration of upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and so visit the GP typically after 4-7 days to seek reassurance, but also expecting an antibiotic prescription.

PAGB and Pharmacy Voice wanted a campaign that told people how to deal with winter symptoms in order to help tackle both problems.

PAGB represents 42 manufacturers of over-the-counter medicines and food supplements in the United Kingdom. Pharmacy Voice combines the three largest community pharmacy associations: the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) and the National Pharmacy Association (NPA).

Any potential pitfalls you needed to take into account?

The challenge was to devise the first public health campaign for the winter season that brought PAGB member companies, Pharmacies and key stakeholders including DH, NHS and Public Health England together under one logo and encouraged them to deliver the same message, so that wherever the public encountered advice about colds and flu, there was consistency of message.

We also needed to utilise traditional and social channels to reach the full spectrum of the population and engage all stakeholders to use the campaign materials to spread the message to millions over the traditional 'cold and flu season'.

OK, and what was your grand plan to tackle this?

There were three main strands to the campaign:

1. Key stakeholders were asked to add the microsite url and campaign logo (designed by RDC) to their own websites and include it on relevant advertising; use social media to drive people to the website; and reference the campaign in their media outreach. This brought campaign exposure on television from big brands such as Strepsils, Nurofen Cold & Flu, Lemsip and Beechams during the big Christmas shows including The X Factor and Downton Abbey.

2. A website - www.treatyourselfbetter.co.uk - developed by DJM Digital Solutions, hosted a daily symptom checker, told consumers what symptoms to expect, how long symptoms typically lasted and what they could do to treat themselves without going to their GP, unless red flags ("warning signs") were present. Two videos with GP Dr Rob Hicks and community pharmacist Raj Patel were hosted on a bespoke You Tube channel and on the website.

3. A comprehensive traditional and social media press office raised awareness of the campaign in the consumer media and online. 

Sounds good. What outcome did all this have on your client’s business?

A stakeholder and member company digital toolkit was actively used in educational and promotional communications by: Boots, Tesco, The Co-operative Pharmacy, Rowlands Pharmacy, NPA, Pfizer, Reckitt Benckiser, Novartis, GSK, J&J, stakeholders including Public Health England, the NHS and Department of Health and numerous CCGs and GP practices up and down the country.

The campaign logo/url featured in four television advertisements, 14 print and billboard advertisements, on eight PAGB member websites and 10 other stakeholder websites.

The campaign generated 76 pieces of media coverage with an estimated reach of over 400 million people. There were more than 500,000 social media mentions of the campaign and its key messages, resulting in more than 20,000 unique visitors to the campaign website.

Post campaign research shows that 29% of the population (11 million) were aware of the campaign: 50% visited a pharmacist; 28% purchased an over-the-counter medicine; and 22% actively did not seek to get an antibiotic from their GP.

Impressive. Any gems of wisdom you learned from working on this that you’d like to pass on?

The campaign demonstrates what can be achieved in such a short space of time (approximately eight weeks from brief to campaign launch) and how important good communication is when working with large organisations. If stakeholders had more time to incorporate Treat Yourself Better within their own marketing and brand plans, we believe awareness would have been even greater.

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