DoH aims to be “trusted brand” for public health info

The Department of Health has consolidated all PR and media planning into single agencies in a bid to provide better coordinated marcomms campaigns over the course of people’s lives.

Freud Communications will manage all PR for the department’s public health campaigns, while MEC will handle all media planning.

Previously, single issue campaigns have been handled by different agencies. The two will handle work for anti-obesity initiative Change4Life and NHS Smokefree as well as developing activity targeting young and old people.

The appointment of Freud could prove controversial as the agency also handles PR for brands such as Walkers crisps and KFC. Public health campaigners have previously accused Freud, which already handles PR for Change4Life, of a conflict of interest.

Some of the agency’s food and drink clients could be used to provide in kind marketing support for campaigns. The DoH hopes that brands will contribute about £15m worth of activity next year.

The agency consolidation is in line with the department’s stated aim of improving the efficiency of campaigns, while cutting costs.

It wants to provide joined up campaigns to reduce duplication and avoid having “separate conversations with the same people”.

It is estimated that the consolidation will reduce marcomms costs by 25% as part of the government’s cost-cutting drive.

Sheila Mitchell, head of marketing at the DoH, says: “Our public health social marketing strategy takes us to the next level, adopting a life-stage based approach, which will make our campaigns more effective and save money.”

Both Freud and MEC will, she adds, “forego a percentage of their fee” if they fail to meet defined targets.


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