DoH set to ‘sex up’ PR for healthy lifestyles

The Department of Health (DoH) this week unveiled an aggressive marketing strategy that will adopt the tactics of the commercial sector to make healthy lifestyle choices ‘sexy’ in the wake of this week’s Public Health White Paper.

DoH director of comms Sian Jarvis told PRWeek: ‘We are not a nanny state. This is all about creating demand for health rather than telling people what to do. It is about rolling out a targeted approach for people to want to live healthier lifestyles in a way that is interesting.’

The white paper has outlined the DoH’s plans for ‘social marketing’, in which it will adopt commercial marketing techniques in a bid to raise public awareness of health and change behaviour.

The initiatives will kick off with a number of NHS-produced lifestyle titles targeted at different social groups, to be distributed in supermarkets, hospitals and GPs’ surgeries.

These include a magazine for young men called Fit, a publication for the elderly called Prime and a women’s magazine called Your Life.

Their content will follow the format of mainstream consumer magazines and include tips for better health and celebrity health stories.

The DoH has also pledged that its marketing and communications will carry third-party endorsement from charities and the private sector to carry its messages.

Campaigns involving the private and voluntary sector are more credible and powerful, said DoH head of news Jon Hibbs.

Future campaigns, including those on sexual health, obesity, smoking and alcohol are also likely to be funded jointly between the DoH and industry.

Planned joint educational drives in the pipeline include a partnership with Age Concern to encourage the elderly to keep warm over the winter and an initiative encouraging them to get the right medical treatment.

Charities and businesses will also help promote NHS services following the example of a campaign to promote its smoking helpline by the British Heart Foundation in which shocking images depicted the fatty deposits left in the arteries by smoking.

In the private sector, Sainsbury’s has adopted the DoH’s five-a-day campaign, where consumers are encouraged to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, aided by clear labelling on goods.

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