Public Health Wales

The stop smoking campaign that inspired nearly 4,000 NHS quit attempts and was crowned The Drum Digital’s ‘Best Public Sector Campaign’ of 2019.

Public Health Wales’ Big Bite

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To get smokers not only to quit, but to do so using NHS services (which are 4x more effective than quitting alone).

Smoking – notoriously hard to give up, right? Well, that was challenge number one. Challenge two – this brief was not about just inspiring quit attempts, but about getting people to do so via the NHS ‘Help Me Quit‘ service. This way they’d be far more likely to be smoke-free, for good, which would allow Public Health Wales to achieve its mission to reduce the impact of smoking in Wales and save lives.

Natural Strength

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The Help Me Quit programme’s natural strength was its effectiveness vs other methods.

However, few smokers knew about the effectiveness of the NHS programme and many would be put off by previous failed solo attempts. Many too felt embarrassed to accept outside help. These were strong emotional barriers to overcome. To tackle the problem, S3 spent time training with Public Health Wales’ behavioural science unit before turning our newfound skills to the campaign.

Insight also told us that smokers were likely to be living in disadvantaged communities, so our Help Me Quite advertising campaign strategy was to normalise quitting through the NHS by showing everyday people – from builders to hairdressers – “doing it”.

The Skills

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Our channel strategy saw campaign messages delivered through a mix of TV, out of home, PR and a multi-faceted digital campaign.

The goal was to get people to see the ads, consider quitting, then take the leap and contact the NHS through phone or online. We would remarket to those who’d engaged with adverts, serving a variety of persuasive, behaviour-change ready messages through offline media and AI-driven digital campaigns, and supported PHW in refreshing its website to ensure it could turn more visits into quit attempts.

Overall, this campaign was run in the spirit of test and learn – S3 and PHW worked in partnership to review data, discuss transparently and use practically to improve the campaign again. It was this pragmatic approach that helped efficiencies soar and broke boundaries in terms of Welsh public health marketing innovation.

The Success

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The Help Me Quit advertising campaign achieved its challenging goals – beating its annual quit attempts target.

But moreover, it became a working model that has been branded the hallmark of how to utilise agency support among Public Health Wales’ entire organisation — with senior executives citing the campaign model as one to be rolled out across other areas of public health marketing.

Nearly 4,000 NHS quit​ attempts made Smokers contacting NHS +114% YoY Conversion rate more than ​double industry standard The Drum Digital's Best ​Public Sector Campaign 2019


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S3 does marketing analytics and measurement of its Public Health Wales campaign
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