GCS and its award-winning marketing campaigns

It has been a hard year for us all, both on a personal and professional level. This is why I thought I would shine a light on the outstanding professionalism that has been displayed by the entire Government Communication Service (GCS) during the pandemic by highlighting 2 campaigns that represent the very best of government marketing.

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Recently, our COVID-19 App and NHS Recruitment Campaigns won 3 Silvers at the 2021 UK Effie Awards. The Effies recognise the most effective marketing efforts in the country and are judged by nearly 200 industry leaders. They are notoriously difficult to win. Only 12 winners were chosen from the long list – so, government marketers should congratulate themselves on making up 25% of that total!

Despite their different objectives, both campaigns share common features. Each leveraged behavioural science and had a powerful, emotional core proposition to engage their audiences. For the app download campaign, this was ‘all the people you love are on your phone and now so is the app to protect them from COVID-19’. For the NHS recruitment campaign, it was to focus on the opportunity to be part of the future of the NHS while recognising the power of the past of this much loved national institution.

Both campaigns harnessed the power of technology; for the app, highly targeted social, programmatic digital and in-app advertising created a seamless route to installation, with timely prompts to download. For the NHS recruitment journey, the focus was on designing 973 possible audience journeys and delivering 42 separate video assets to ensure the potential recruits were supported from interest to application.

Both campaigns were proven successes. The App download campaign drove over 21 million downloads, which was more than double the levels of other countries who introduced their versions and directly prevented 594,000 infections and 8,700 deaths. For the NHS campaign, applications for Nursing degree courses rose by 42% year on year with 34,190 students starting nursing undergraduate courses in September 2020; that’s an increase of 21% on the previous year.

Neither of these campaigns could have succeeded without the incredible efforts of our multiple agency partners, communications and policy colleagues, so these awards recognise an entire community of hardworking public servants and agency professionals who have come together with a common purpose to make a genuine difference.

Effectiveness must remain at the heart of everything we do if we are to maintain the privilege of investing taxpayers money for positive social benefit. It takes great strategy, great collaboration and great talent to produce such outstanding results. And it is so encouraging to see that this is acknowledged by our peers.