Three symptoms of a poor marketing campaign

Posted on 27/02/2012


As the government continues to scrutinise central marketing spending and the NHS is under threat of major re-organisation, it’s refreshing to know that some NHS authorities are able to splash the cash.

Or not.

Hangover? The NHS seems to think you may be tempted to try A&E

In an early front runner for the ‘waste of public money of the year’ award (if there was such an award), a coalition of London NHS trusts has commissioned a new website –

While the apparent objective is a good one – help direct people away from A&E services and towards more appropriate care – the campaign doesn’t cut it for three main reasons:

1) Poor content

Does anyone who has figured out they have a hangover or a grazed knee really think they need to go to A&E. Really?

And who came up with the seemingly random list of ailments people may want to get online to consider (see screen grab below)? Surely not a medic?

And it only covers certain areas of London for advice – yet doesn’t make this clear on the site.

Grazed knee? Quick get online...

2) Repitition of information

Why would you build a site like this when better, more indepth and nationwide information is readily available elsewhere? In a time of tightened purse strings, you could understand the local NHS behind this doing a ‘don’t use A&E campaign’ and then directing consumers to NHS Direct, but you don’t need a website as part of this mix.

The campaign does make posters in other languages available for community groups (good), but then there’s no multi-lingual options on the site – which again could have been a reason to repeat NHS Direct online information. But then NHS Direct does have an interpreter service – which would be a more appropriate call to action for non-English speakers.

3) Lack of integration

And this is the core of the problem. If you’re going to go to the trouble of building a website, you may as well promote it properly. That means search engine optimisation, media relations, social media, online outreach and a full partnership marketing programme… Not just a few posters to try and drive people to a dysfunctional asset.

Maybe the campaign will develop and address these points, but as it stands, it’s sad to think that at no point did anyone involved question the wisdom of creating this site and the waste of public funds that it represents.

Thanks to Ben at Claremont for sparking this rant…

Cover image by Sue Robinson /