Six healthcare campaigns we liked in 2020

While the pandemic has captured the headlines, the past year has also seen the launch of numerous non-COVID-related health campaigns competing for engagement.

Clockwise, from top left: campaign images from Janssen; Breast Cancer Now; ABPI; and Takeda UK
Clockwise, from top left: campaign images from Janssen; Breast Cancer Now; ABPI; and Takeda UK

It’s been a landmark year for health comms, with Government advice on COVID-19 dominating the landscape and phrases like ‘social distancing’ becoming part of everyday speech.

However, this did not stop other major health campaigns taking place. Here are six that caught PRWeek’s eye:

Valuing vaccines




Amid a relentless tide of anti-vaxxer propaganda on social media, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) set out a clear and simple campaign to counter misinformation about vaccinations.

Factual information, rather than rhetoric, was front and centre in an approach that looked at the big picture in terms of how vaccines help millions of people worldwide. With vaccinations at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, the timing of this campaign could not have been better.

Check them



A clear message for women to check themselves for possible signs of breast cancer was at the heart of a new campaign launched by Weber Shandwick.

It featured a thought-provoking animation depicting the changing relationships women have with their breasts over the course of their lives – from embarrassment during puberty, to dealing with attention from others, breastfeeding children and being treated for breast cancer.

I am number 17



It’s a safe bet that you’ll never have heard of any of the health conditions and diseases represented in this campaign, devised by Hill+Knowlton’s healthcare team for pharma firm Takeda.

It set out to raise awareness that one in 17 Britons will be affected by a rare condition, through 17 case studies of people living with a little-known disease or condition, or who are parents of a child with one.

Breaking depression



Langland, a division of Publicis Health, worked on a new iteration of this mental health campaign, for pharma giant Janssen, which had been launched in 2019.

This year’s World Mental Health Day was chosen as the hook for the latest stage in the campaign – challenging individuals to "start one conversation today about depression".

Better Health – Every mind matters




Public Health England launched the UK’s first mental health campaign targeting children and young people, centred on a film featuring the words of bestselling author Charlie Mackesy, read by celebrity parents including Davina McCall, Katie Piper, Marvin Humes and Edith Bowman.

It featured animated illustrations and lines from Mackesy’s bestseller The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, such as the boy admitting “Sometimes I feel lost” and the horse citing “Help” as the bravest thing they’ve ever said.

The campaign was launched with the aim of countering the psychological toll the pandemic has taken on young people. Backed by leading mental health and young people’s charities, it was one of PHE’s last campaigns before being replaced by the National Institute for Health Protection. 

Help us to help you




A tongue-in-cheek approach was used in this campaign to make people think twice about seeing their GP. Over-the-top parodies of B-movie posters were used to capture people's attention – with the central message being that they should see their local pharmacist first to get advice on minor health issues such as coughs, colds, stomach problems and aches and pains.

It is part of the wider 'Help us help you' campaign launched in 2018.

Now read: Eight public sector campaigns we liked in 2020


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