Health literacy is remarkably low among some demographic groups, so public health professionals always need to find simple and powerful ways of communicating.
The Viz cartoon style seemed to fit the bill well, and the combination of novelty with the fact that the cartoonist was a local, created a great news story. Coverage was therefore widespread, as expected, and the team should be commended for milking every angle from the central idea.
Another strength of the story was the involvement of doctors and pharmacists, often overlooked in such campaigns.
It's unclear how much research was conducted to investigate the prevalence of the overprescription problem in the PCTs and how this varied by GP practice and patient profile. Research on how well the message penetrated hard-to-reach groups was also lacking.
With comms resources tight, it is important to avoid reinventing the wheel and to target the message in a focused way. I'm aware of a very similar campaign elsewhere in the country where an 'Auntie Biotics' cartoon character was created.
It is important for the Department of Health to help local NHS organisations become more aware of materials already available, and to give them guidance on best practice.