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Departments: Publicity

Volume 463: debated on Thursday 19 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the cost effectiveness of advertising commissioned by his Department in the last 12 months. (148500)

The Department has run a number of advertising campaigns during the previous 12 months in the drive to improve public health. In some instances these are part of longer-term campaigns to address particular issues, e.g. smoking cessation, and some are tactical campaigns, e.g. flu immunisation.

Where long-term campaigns are involved, evaluation techniques are used to measure current performance against pre-determined targets, and to benchmark against previous campaigns. By so doing the department can aim to improve the effectiveness of future campaigns. This is consistent with the recommended principles of the Engage planning framework, which is designed to improve the quality and effectiveness of government campaigns.

Where campaigns have short-term tactical targets, evaluation is also specifically undertaken to ensure response levels are achieved through the most effective deployment of media, and once more to inform future planning for similar activities. Examples of these two campaign approaches follow.

Depending on the nature of the task, the department uses appropriate industry-wide recognised measures to determine the success and cost effectiveness of the campaign. The Central Office of Information is often involved in the campaign development process and these measures are also used by them to measure campaign success levels. The measures chosen will include some of the following elements:

spontaneous ad awareness;

prompted ad awareness;

spontaneous ad recall;

prompted ad recall;

logo/brand recognition;

slogan recognition;

ad recall (first mention);

ad recall (all mentions);

attitude shift (pre/post);

attitude shift (regular tracking);

specific policy/product detail recall;

agreement with relevant statements (pre/post);

response by channel (telephone, coupon, website);

response by medium (TV, national press, etc);

response for information;

response to helpline;

second stage response (e.g. fill in an application form);

final stage response (e.g. receive benefit, give blood);

tracking of response quality (from initial inquiry to final result);

behavioural shift—immediate (e.g. join smoking cessation group); and

behavioural shift—long term (e.g. give up smoking).

Example of long-term campaign evaluation

Using these measures, some of the top line results from recent tobacco campaigns since September 2006 are as follows:

Motivations That Matter (September 2006)

70 per cent. of 16-34 smoking men aware that impotence can be caused by smoking, (compared to 45 per cent. at start of campaign).

41 per cent. of 16-34 smoking women said the ads made them more likely to quit.

Hook/Send Off (January to March 2007)

82 per cent. of smokers agreed that a smoker who smokes 5,000 cigarettes a year must be really addicted;

76 per cent. of smokers agreed that the campaign was aimed at people like me;

39 per cent. of smokers said ‘Hook’ made them think they should give up now; and

23 per cent. of smokers said that TV advertising was a prompt for their most recent quit attempt (prompted).

Direct Response:

During the Hook/Send Off campaign 83,606 people phoned the NHS Smoking Helpline, 545,564 people visited the gosmokefree website and 195,000 people interacted with the interactive TV pages (total of 824,170 responses).

Secondhand Smoke (March 2007)

42 per cent. of adults (48 per cent. of smokers) spontaneously recalled any element of the campaign (82 per cent. and 84 per cent. respectively for prompted awareness);

88 per cent. of adults agreed second hand smoke can cause lung cancer in non-smokers post-campaign (78 per cent. pre-campaign);

75 per cent. of adults agreed second hand smoke can cause heart disease in non-smokers post-campaign (70 per cent. pre-campaign); and

50 per cent. agreed most of the smoke from a cigarette can’t be seen or smelt post-campaign (27 per cent. pre-campaign).

Example of tactical campaign evaluation:

The flu immunisation communications campaign has been run annually since 2000. The advertising has been evaluated by pre and post campaigns surveys of the target audiences to measure changes in spontaneous and prompted recall and recognition of the advertising, propensity to get the jab, the relative cost effectiveness of the different media, take-up of campaign materials, and ultimately, take-up of the jab.

In 2006 the research indicated that, compared to 2005, the advertising had achieved:

similar levels of prompted recall and recognition among the at-risks groups;

propensity to get the jab was also similar to 2005 among the total sample surveyed, and increased with the number of media recognised;

among the over-65s there was some decline in spontaneous and prompted recall of any flu jab advertising, and in propensity to get the jab; and

among the at-risk groups of all ages spontaneous recall of any flu jab advertising changed little, but there was a decline in prompted recall. Propensity to get the jab remained stable, and was slightly higher among those who had seen the campaign.

Take-up of the campaign materials by the national health service was 2.8 million items.

The campaign contributed a take-up of the vaccine of 74 per cent. among the over-65s in 2006 (65.3 per cent. in 2000-01), towards the World Health Organization target of 75 per cent. by 2010.