Public Health England wants to make its brand ‘part of the fabric of society’

The government health body is changing its strategy as it looks to take its “tools out of the marketing world and into everyday interactions with the health system”.

Public Health England
Public Health England’s recent campaign looked to raise awareness of heart disease by inviting consumers to do a quick online test.

Public Health England wants its brand to become part of people’s day-to-day lives, and it is looking to smarter use of data and partnerships to achieve this.

The body has released its new social marketing strategy today (22 September), which sets out plans for improving public health over the next three years.

Its marketing strategy is focused around four key areas:

– Broaching new subjects, such as antibiotics usage, e-cigarettes and young people’s sexual health.
– Keeping pace with digital innovation and investing in new digital tools; previous examples include apps to push families to cut back on sugar or encourage people to stop smoking.
– Ensuring all its marketing tools and assets are academically endorsed and robust.
– Working more closely with the commercial and voluntary sector to shine a light on important health issues and create “coalitions for change”.

The report makes clear that through its marketing, Public Health England (PHE) wants to become “part of the fabric of people’s lives”. One way it is looking to achieve this is by having its information pushed out through more channels and partners.

“For example, we create digital content that reaches young people, but that is now also being turned into lesson plans so it becomes part of the fabric of school education assets. It’s taking the marketing tools out of the marketing world and into everyday channels and interactions with the health system,” PHE’s marketing director Sheila Mitchell tells Marketing Week.

Using digital as intervention

Digital engagement is also high on its list of priorities. PHE says it is “trying to keep pace” with the rate of change, but also wants to use digital tools to target consumers and send them more relevant messages.

Its bigger focus on digital has also led to new challenges around managing data. For example, when consumers sign up for an app or programme they are required to provide their contact details. Mitchell claims while PHE isn’t into “deep personalised CRM activity”, it does use this data to help develop its digital marketing by retargeting people more effectively.

“[It means] we are taking a test and learn approach and are trying to be much nimbler. We can reach people at scale, but in a more customised way and use data to deliver relevant content. That’s what we’re learning to do better,” a PHE spokesman adds.

The body’s changing approach to digital marketing is also affecting its approach to creative content. PHE claims it always knew how to “make the perfect 30-second ad on a public health issue”, but that it had to throw that formula out when thinking mobile-first.

Mitchell concludes: “We’re not struggling, but it’s trial and error in terms of creating meaningful engagements around public health issues that are about changing behaviour.”

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here