'A creative can mobilise and take on a life of its own' – Behind the Campaign, #StampOutTheGap

Gemma Moroney, co-founder of PR agency Shook, discusses the campaign that demands care parity for adults with Cerebral Palsy.

'A creative can mobilise and take on a life of its own' – Behind the Campaign, #StampOutTheGap

What was the campaign, in a nutshell?

Adults with Cerebral Palsy (CP) don’t get joined-up healthcare. People with other lifelong health conditions do. NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines recommending care parity were published in 2019 but still haven’t been adopted. Shook made this unavoidable, creating mock second-class stamps featuring celebrities and sports stars living with CP to highlight that people are being treated like second-class citizens and push those in power to “Stamp out the gap” in healthcare.

How did the idea come into being?

The charity has a report showing the benefits to people and the economy of adopting the guidelines. Shook was shocked that they hadn’t been adopted; it felt like it should be illegal. We reframed this as “adults with CP are being treated like second-class citizens”, which sparked the idea of a set of mock second-class stamps. We felt it could do what polite lobbying and rational reports hadn’t: get people in power to take notice.

What ideas were rejected?

This was the only idea we presented (using just four slides!) – we knew it was ‘the one’. The client immediately agreed, seeing it would help create the noise they needed.

Briefly describe the campaign planning and process.

Lost Voice Guy, Rosie Jones, James Moore, Francesca Martinez, David Smith MBE and Tegan Vincent-Cooke all agreed to support the campaign, lending their images to the stamps. They were designed by Eve Lacey, an amateur artist from the Adult CP Hub community. We worked with a printer to make them for real. Casey Guttridge kindly photographed them pro-bono. The back of the stamps carried our ask, AKA the world’s smallest petition: Care Parity for CP.

Working closely with the charity, we created an earned, shared and owned content plan, including for the celebrities; template letters (including posting the real stamps) to MPs, ministers and peers; a petition on 38 Degrees; and template content for the charity’s community to share on social and with their MPs.

A clear timeline ensured everybody’s voices were heard at the same time, putting #StampOutTheGap across editorial, owned, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Working with Broadcast Revolution extended our reach further.

What were the biggest challenges, and how did you overcome them?

Getting people in power to listen to the 133,000 UK adults living with CP! Creativity helped show how unfair it is for people with CP to be treated like second class citizens.

How did you measure the results and what were they?

We made noise from Huff Post to Unwritten, ITV Calendar to Able, but that was a means to our end – getting the attention of people in power.

First, the charity received support from the All-Party Parliamentary Group Disability chair. Then, the campaign put the cause on the Disability Minister’s agenda. The conversation the stamps sparked in his office meant he met with the charity and it's now part of two APPG meetings on CP. The campaign also secured a meeting with the Health and Social Care Minister.

These outcomes take the charity closer to its goal: getting the guidelines adopted across the NHS and as SIGN guidelines in Scotland.

What's the biggest lesson you took away from the campaign?

We had a great idea, a relevant hook (CP Awareness Month), robust data and brilliant celebrity, community and media support. However, with COVID-19 dominating the health/news agenda, in hindsight we would have added an extra angle: comparing the speed at which other NICE guidelines were adopted vs the delay in adopting those for CP.

The other lesson was a reminder of the power of a creative idea to mobilise people and take on a life of its own: the campaigning line "Stamp out the gap" continues to be used by the charity, the community and other stakeholders to raise awareness and demand action.

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