NHS – more than skin deep

We used a healthy dose of Hell Yeah! to encourage more women to book a smear test.


NHS Dudley



February 2012

The National Health What?

The National Health Service (NHS) Dudley had a problem. Not enough women aged 18-25 were booking smear tests. The NHS sent letters, but their message didn’t get through to everyone and numbers were down.

That’s where our pants-on-the-outside heroes at ORB stepped in.

We targeted young women who were most likely to not book, to change negative perceptions and myths about cervical screening, and most importantly, to drive behaviour change and increase screening attendance.

The challenge was to educate, inform and motivate a diverse and wide audience that feels young and invincible, and those who are too busy socialising to book a test.


The National Health Who?

We used research and analytics to define the right tone for our audience. We used our extensive knowledge of the target youth audience to realise that this kind of health issue often didn’t register or really seem relevant to those we were trying to reach.

The insight we had was that the thing that does concern our target audience and make them pay attention, is beauty.

This single realisation was our shot in the arm eureka moment – (Please excuse the awful medical pun). We came up with a relevant positioning in the form of a proverb that our audience would know and respond to. That beauty is more than skin deep.

Once we had this positioning we used focus groups to select the creative execution that stood out most and appealed to our audience.

The National Health Why?

The campaign hit the streets, buses, airwaves and internet and captured the imagination of the women we were trying to reach.

Our Hell Yeah! moment was when results came in that confirmed that we were changing behaviour and motivating more young women to attend essential cervical screening.

Findings from the independent research body Public Knowledge showed that:

  • Self-reported screening attendance rose significantly at the post stage, from 58% at the pre stage, to 76% for all women interviewed – an increase of 18%.
  • 55% of those interviewed had visual or audio recall of the campaign. (The highest recall that the researchers had seen – so outstanding in fact, that they decided to use this campaign case study for a white paper.)

NHS Dudley extended our two-month pilot campaign to four months and due to the success it had, they decided to re-run the campaign again in early 2013. Not only this, GPs were so impressed with the campaign that the NHS produced materials to go in doctor’s surgeries and badges for staff.

Hell Yeah! NHS Dudley. You make us feel beautiful inside.