Eight healthcare campaigns we liked in 2021

COVID-19 campaigns were just one feature of a crowded field in terms of health messaging this year, with a plethora of campaigns competing to cut through with their target audiences.

Clockwise, from top left: campaign images from Specsavers, MS Society, NHS, and Roche
Clockwise, from top left: campaign images from Specsavers, MS Society, NHS, and Roche

Here are eight campaigns that grabbed PRWeek’s attention:

Team Stop MS

Kit Harington and Alun Armstrong sending themselves up in campaign film for MS Society
Kit Harington and Alun Armstrong sending themselves up in campaign film for MS Society

When in doubt, wheel a celebrity out – or, as in the case of the MS Society, gather several together. However, the charity’s Team Stop MS campaign to recruit supporters was not just another mundane celebrity-endorsed affair.

Instead, the celebrities, who included Game Of Thrones stars Kit Harington and Rose Leslie, TV chef Ainsley Harriott, actors Andy Serkis and Alun Armstrong, comedian Ivo Graham and DJ Scott Mills, sent themselves up to comic effect. They ‘starred’ in a campaign film showing them auditioning to become fundraisers. The film ends with the simple message: “Join Team Stop MS. No audition needed.”

The Smear Word

A still from The Smear Word campaign film
A still from The Smear Word campaign film

A humorous approach by an all-female team at Mind+Matter was taken to tackle the taboos that surround cervical screening, in a campaign for Roche. A short film depicting a young woman going for her first smear test was at the heart of the month-long campaign in June. The woman makes a series of asides, looking directly at the camera, about the things she is worried about. She is reassured by a nurse, who explains to the viewer what is involved.

The campaign urged women to arrange for a smear test and not to put it off, as cervical cancer is highly preventable through regular screening and vaccination.

Get your jabs

The simple campaign imagery may not win any design awards, but this low-budget, pro-bono campaign, developed and run by campaigns and comms agency the College Green Group, urged people to take up COVID-19 vaccinations. What it might have lacked in style, it made up for in terms of clear, factual information, encouraging an open dialogue to address any concerns people may have. The agency also created a campaign website that brings together a raft of information on the merits of vaccination, along with resources such as posters and flyers.

Stop the devastation

A former drag performer with a brain tumour was among several terminally ill cancer patients telling their personal stories in a powerful campaign by Brain Tumour Research calling for a fairer proportion of research funding into the disease.

In addition to patients, people who lost loved ones to brain cancer also featured in the case study-led 'Stop the devastation' campaign.

It aimed to highlight the unequal amount of funding for research into the disease, which kills almost 90 per cent of those diagnosed within five years.

The campaign included a fundraising initiative in which people were asked to donate to help find new treatments for brain cancer by using the #NoMore hashtag and share selfies of their ‘stop hand’.

Hands, face, space and fresh air

A still from the campaign film
A still from the campaign film

Another COVID-19 campaign
, this time from Freuds for the UK Government. It combined the mass-market appeal of the UK’s best-known TV medic, Dr Hilary Jones, with a campaign film in which people breathe out green fumes – highlighting the way in which COVID-19 can spread. The campaign, launched in March, was an attempt to remind people of the importance of fresh air in fighting the spread of the virus.

Conrad Bird, director of campaigns and marketing at the Cabinet Office’s COVID-19 Hub, said: “Everyone has a great understanding of the need to wash our hands, wear a face covering and keep space, and these are still necessary, but we also need to remember how important fresh air is – letting it into your homes regularly and staying outside when you meet people.”

Come to the frontline with our crew

A still from the campaign film
A still from the campaign film

A powerful campaign film
marked the start of this year’s Air Ambulance Week in September, using real-life audio recordings showing the calmness of medics as they fought to save the life of a critically injured man.

Produced by Snappin’ Turtle Productions for London's Air Ambulance Charity, the film tells the story of David Summerfield, 48, who was assaulted at Waterloo Station on 20 October 2018.

The film includes audio recorded at the scene as medical workers fought to keep Summerfield alive. Alexandra Sutherland, head of comms at London’s Air Ambulance Charity, said: “Telling our patients' stories is a vital way for our charity to build an emotional connection with the people of London and show how their support can help us save lives.”

My big phone and me

A still from the campaign film
A still from the campaign film

Comedian Dom Joly reprised his role as the prankster of Trigger Happy TV in a campaign for Specsavers. He starred in a short tongue-in-cheek film, in which he causes chaos as he walks around shouting into an enormous mobile phone and bumping into things, seemingly oblivious to the reaction of others.

The film, launched in November, is part of an integrated campaign across digital, video, press and social that aims to encourage 35- to 55-year-olds to get an eye test to detect presbyopia. This gradual loss of ability to focus on nearby objects is a common part of ageing.

Let’s not go back

The surreal sight of a man furiously trying to complete the swimming section of a triathlon in a tiny paddling pool is featured in a short film called ‘COVID-19 Vaccine: Let's not go back to paddling pool triathlons’.

It is one of a series of videos aimed at encouraging people to get vaccinated – in a multimillion-pound, NHS-backed campaign launched by YouTube in May and targeting 18- to 34-year-olds. In addition to promotional films, the campaign featured user-generated content and YouTube Shorts in which young people and YouTubers shared their experiences of a year in lockdown. Created by Google's Creative Lab and produced by Gramafilm, the campaign comprised 12 videos, digital banners, national press and paid social.

Click here to subscribe to the FREE pharma and healthcare comms bulletin to receive dedicated healthcare news, features and comment straight to your inbox.

Make sure you register for the site to access more than one story per month.

To submit a news, comment, case study or analysis idea for the pharma and healthcare comms bulletin, email john.harrington@haymarket.com

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in