Change4Life kicks off £5m new year push

The Government’s healthy living marketing initiative Change4Life is launching a £5m campaign today (2 January) with this year’s annual push simplified to explain how consumers can make “smart swaps” within categories including soft drinks, cheeses and butters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht2DhRyiHK0

As with previous Change4Life campaigns, this year’s activity centres around TV spots using Plasticine characters created by Aardman Animations. A 40-second TV spot explains how there are 52 sugar cubes in a two-litre bottle of fizzy drink, while 10-second ads highlight how consumers can make “smart swaps” to healthier products in the cheese and butter category.

Consumers signing up to the Smart Swaps campaign online will receive a free Smart Swapper pack, which details healthy meal ideas and offers a financial incentive to switch to healthier foods in the form of money-off vouchers.

Brands including Unilever’s Flora Light, Pepsi Max and Britvic’s Robinsons have offered £840,000 worth of money-off vouchers redeemable at Asda, Co-operative, Aldi and Lidl. Those supermarkets will also push smart swaps through in-store POS and their digital channels.

Sheila Mitchell, marketing director of the Department of Health’s executive body Public Health England (PHE), told Marketing Week the campaign had been updated this year following research from Kantar Worldwide which found consumers’ shopping repetoires are limited to about 300 of the 30,000 products avaiable and that it is therefore easier to get people to swap within the same category.

She added: “Before we were saying ’don’t drink fizzy drinks, have milk or water’. But we are now maturing the message as people do better when they take small steps.”

PHE chose soft drinks, cheese and butter in particular for its above the line creative as “there is a really easy swap” within those categories, particularly in the soft drinks vertical, Mitchell said.

However, The British Soft Drinks Association’s chief executive Gavin Partington criticised PHE’s move to target the soft drinks industry for the second year in a row in its Change4Life campaign.

He said in a statement: ”Whilst it’s reassuring to see a recognition that diet soft drinks can play a role in reducing calorie intake, we are disappointed that for the second year in succession this campaign heavily targets soft drinks which provide just 2% of the calories in the average adult diet in the UK.

“It is particularly frustrating for an industry which has been working with the Department of Health to promote healthier behaviours, reformulate products so they are lower in calories, make available smaller pack sizes and focus more of its marketing investment on low and no calorie options.”

This year’s campaign is still “in the heartland of mum and dad” but Mitchell said PHE is currently reviewing its marketing strategy for 2014-17 and will be looking at how it can reach new audiences, such as adults and ethnic groups.

PHE also wants to explore how it can use digital to help people change their behaviours.

Mitchell said: ”We are looking to create a digital CRM programme to help people make healthier choices. We are also looking at how we link our programmes, so we can say ‘well done, you’ve quite smoking, here’s an app for healthy lifestyle choices if you have put on a bit of weight’ and cross-sell offers across different campaigns.”

Earlier this year PHE had been considering the launch of a Change4Life kitemark to reward brands offering healthy choices – but it has now decided to scrap the idea.

Mitchell said: ”A kitemark was mooted but we did not go there because…it was a step too far for endorsement. We said we would look at it again but we will not go there yet as we have new food labelling coming in and it may be a new brand mark too far for people. There’s not been that great an appetite to put Change4Life as shorthand.”

M&C Saatchi was the lead creative agency for this year’s push.

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