Campaign: Coeliac UK beefs up its annual comms drive

Often misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease is a chronic intolerance to gluten, a substance most commonly found in wheat. Symptoms include bloatedness, fatigue and anaemia. If undiagnosed, it can lead to osteoporosis or cancer of the gut.

Campaign Are you 1 in 100?
Client Coeliac UK
PR team Upward Curve
Timescale May 2006
Budget £36,500

Some 600,000 people in the UK have the disease, although Coeliac UK - the charity that supports           sufferers - believes up to one in 100 people has some intolerance to wheat without being aware of the problem. Coeliac UK runs an annual awareness week using the tagline ‘Are you one in 100?'. This year it used Upward Curve to promote the campaign.

To publicise the case for early diagnosis of coeliac disease and to create greater awareness of the condition among the public, healthcare professionals and government.

Strategy and Plan
A YouGov survey of Coeliac UK members found that 30 per cent of respondents had visited their GP seven or more times before they were diagnosed with the disease. This was used as a hook to launch a campaign urging people to see their doctor if they suspected they had the allergy.

Celebrities with the disease - including TV chef Giorgio Locatelli - were enlisted as spokespeople to support the week. To back this up, the PR team distributed a CD press-pack to 350 target media titles, and contacted a further 176 titles directly.

It also set up syndicated radio interviews through markettiers4dc. In an attempt to reach ministers, the PR team hosted a Parliamentary reception to officially launch the awareness week.

Measurement and Evaluation
Locatelli provided recipes and posed for a photocall, and during the awareness week mentioned coeliac disease in his Guardian Weekend Magazine column. Dr Chris Steele, from ITV's This Morning, talked about the condition and undertook a series of syndicated radio interviews.

According to Coeliac UK, the campaign reached an estimated 42 million people from print coverage alone. More than 100 articles appeared, including in the Daily Mail, The Times and The Sun. Major case studies also featured in Woman, the Birmingham Post and Yorkshire Evening Post.

Health media titles that carried the story included Allergy Magazine, Yoga, Capital Doctor and Dietetics Today. Radio coverage was gained on more than 80 regional BBC and independent radio stations, reaching an estimated four million listeners.

Print coverage of the awareness week increased by 25 per cent on the previous year, generating an estimated advertising value equivalent of £177,000. During the awareness week, website hits to the charity's official portal increased from an average of 14,000 a month to 21,000.

Meanwhile, its helpline received a 71 per cent increase in phone calls and a 94 per cent increase in emails.

Yorkshire Evening Post reporter Vicki Robinson says: ‘Upward Curve rang me up to inform me that the awareness week was approaching and asked if we would be interested in a case study of a priest in Leeds who was allergic to communion wafers. It was a really good story. It caught my attention and some nationals followed it up.'

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