The birth of NHS viral marketing


The Leicester NHS teenage pregnancy campaign frustrates me because it’s so good for the client and the company, and we all know why:

1. Use of new media as content (mobile phone filming) and distribution You Tube. Content may have cost something, but distribution incurred low costs
2. Video gets banned creating additional advertising with newspaper stories (I think the Daily Mail and Loose Women have both covered it)
3. This drives the public to the website and increases numbers of ‘hit’ – and you can bet hit numbers will be a measurement of how well the campaign has been – client likes this
4. The whole campaign is put in for an award and will probably win – company likes it
5. Campaign used as case study in industry press.

It’s all very clever as it looks natural and the message is delivered organically through ‘bad press’. The company may now release another mobile phone film this time showing the ‘happy’ side of giving birth, maybe the same young person visiting an aunt in hospital to give birth and happens to capture the moment on her mobile. This will help negate any negative message backlash from the press.

Clearly a lot of money has been spent in the process. In the past, this would have been used on adverts and direct marketing. Now clients need to be seen to operate more under-the-line and make their stakeholders believe that the message has be delivered to the public – how is this done: by giving-up ownership of the message, communications outcomes are measured on how dynamic the message is being implemented, changed and argued over by appropriate representatives of young people. Young People themselves will of course have been shocked by the video, behavioural change in the target audience, I’m afraid, may only be an after thought.

What makes TCC unique is how it partners this new media industry with our core skills of face-2-face consultation and group facilitation. Something we value and believe clients still need to do during the recession. Shocking the public is easier enough, delivering on the objective to reduce teen pregnancies is the tough part. TCC understands that for this change to succeed the message needs to be embedded in the community and will take months if not years to deliver; not in a few days and a couple of clicks of the mouse.

If you want to know more feel free to visit The Campaign Company


  • Gwilym says:

    My beef with the video is less about technique of delivery – though i think it is clumsy in the extreme. I think it is a good idea as part of a wider package to put content aimed at young people on you tube. It would have been interesting to put the power in the hands of young women by asking them to develop their own viral campaign. But as you say this is about generating interest in the campaign rather than a change in perception. The message which i think is saying child birth is painful, especially if it occurs in a school yard is just another shock tactic which fundamentally misses the point about teenage pregnancies happen .

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