Exclusive: Social care campaign drives five-fold rise in comms spend for government department

A major push to promote adult social care as a career choice has helped drive a five-fold rise in comms spending by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in the past year.

One of the posters used in the DHSC's adult social care campaign
One of the posters used in the DHSC's adult social care campaign

Rising costs

A PRWeek analysis of DHSC data reveals that the government department spent more than £4.1m on publicity and advertising between October 2018 and September 2019. It is a steep rise from the £747,000 it spent the previous year.

Recruitment drive

Much of the increase is down to a campaign launched by the government earlier this year to tackle a massive shortage of workers in the adult social care sector, which had more than 100,000 vacancies to fill.

The 'When you care, every day is different' campaign ignores the financial aspects of a line of work typically paying between £7.50 and £9.04 an hour.

Instead, it concentrates on the daily variety of work and personal satisfaction people can get from working in adult social care.

Campaign cost

Over the past year almost £3m has been spent on the campaign.

Two agencies – Engine Partners UK and Omnicom's OMD Group – have each been paid more than £1.3m for their services.

Another agency, MullenLowe, was been paid more than £100,000 for its work on the campaign.

NHS comms

A significant amount has also been spent by DHSC on promoting the NHS Long Term Plan, which includes a focus on encouraging people to take personal responsibility for managing their own health.

OMD Group was paid more than £400,000 for its work on this since October 2018, with healthcare comms agency Health Unlimited being paid £120,000 for a digital marketing campaign to promote the NHS Long Term Plan.

Cosmetic procedures

OMD Group was paid an additional £82,000 for its work on a campaign launched in May to highlight the dangers of cosmetic procedures such as lip fillers, Botox, and liposuction.

Other costs

In addition to its spending on campaigns, the DHSC has spent £73,000 this year on media monitoring, with a subscription to NLA Media Access.

There have also been significant sums spent on research, with £25,000 going to YouGov, £25,000 to research and insight firm BritainThinks, and £30,000 to Brandwatch, a social-media research platform.

And Luther Pendragon was paid £40,000 for video recordings of oral evidence sessions of the government's Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review.

The DHSC was approached for comment but declined to do so.

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