Campaigns: Health - Supermum makes war on head lice

Campaign: Once a week, take a peek
Client: Hedrin head lice solution
PR team: Pegasus PR
Timescale: March 2008-March 2009
Budget: £80,000-£100,000

Hedrin wanted to position itself as an authoritative voice in the head lice market, increasing its market share and cementing its position as brand leader. One in ten primary school children suffer from head lice at any one time, but research among parents found a knowledge gap about ways and means of managing and treating the problem. The 'Once a week, take a peek' campaign aimed to educate parents about head lice.


- To promote the educational campaign and generate at least 30,000 requests for information

- To secure media coverage targeted at parents with children aged four to 11

- To position Hedrin as the most effective head lice treatment

- To encourage schools and pharmacies to recommend the campaign and Hedrin products

- To create product demand and launch a new spray format.

Strategy and plan

The campaign strapline encouraged weekly checking of children for head lice. A campaign website - onceaweektake - was set up and educational leaflets were offered for free via the site, giving advice on head lice. A cartoon character of a 'superhero mum' was developed to help champion the role of parents in the crusade against head lice. The campaign also aimed to normalise the subject of head lice and remove stigma, so the PR team deliberately did not use any blown-up images of head lice, but focused on the role of parents in checking for and removing lice.

A medical advisory board of experts from the Medical Entomology Centre and the School and Public Health Nurses Association was put together to advise on the campaign and act as spokesmen.

A roundtable media event was held in June 2008 to brief consumer, pharmacy, medical and education media ahead of the September back-to-school period. New clinical research showing Hedrin's effectiveness was released alongside the campaign. Case studies were released to the media alongside a survey that found three-quarters of parents wanted tougher penalties for parents who took little or no action against head lice.

A three-month project with a school in Northampton, in which parents and local pharmacies worked together on the campaign, found 88 per cent of parents felt better informed about head lice afterwards, and this was also released to the media.

Measurement and evaluation

The campaign achieved 115 items of media coverage, including 11 articles in national newspapers. Press highlights included coverage in The Sunday Times Style, Daily Express, Daily Mail, The Sun, The Independent, Prima, Practical Parenting, Chat and Woman's Weekly. In total, 94 per cent of coverage mentioned the Hedrin brand and 43 items recommended the product range.


A total of more than 120,000 advice leaflets were ordered by parents, schools and pharmacies. Hedrin's share of the total market grew by four per cent to 27 per cent, securing its position as the market leader.


Rita Rowe, Founder and MD, Mason Williams

You cannot fault a PR campaign that increases a client's share of the market by four per cent, and the campaign title is inspired. I do wonder, however, how much more effective the campaign might have been had it also made more of the fact that Hedrin, according to its own website, works in a revolutionary way. The active ingredient dimeticone is not a pesticide (one of the reasons mums don't like to use some products) - and cannot be resisted by head lice.

I would like to have seen stronger story lines on the product as part of the campaign, rather than the surveys showing parent's lack of knowledge.

Pegasus PR possibly did not have a massive involvement in the campaign's website, but I wish they had as it is very difficult to open and certainly does not work with the joined-up communication that we are all trying to foster.

I do applaud the decision from the PR team to normalise the subject and not go down the obvious route of gross blown-up images of head lice.

I did not see much use of the incredible parenting online networks or any interaction with these groups. A worried parent would go to the internet for immediate information and recommendation. By including communication to these channels, the campaign would have led to a bigger groundswell of awareness, comment, testimonial and recommendation that would still have been 'live' beyond the March campaign close.

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