Government Communication Service Campaign Highlights 2018-19

This publication is a showcase of some of our leading campaigns from 2018 and 2019.

GCS Campaign Highlights 2018-19

PDF, 5MB, 28 pages


Our top campaign across 2018-19 include:

  • Ministry of Justice: Prison Officer recruitment
  • Department for Transport: THINK! Christmas drink-drive campaign
  • Department for Education: Tackling Child Abuse
  • Department for Culture, Media and Sport: First World War commemoration
  • HM Revenue & Customs: Data and Ducks
  • Department for International Development: Aid Match
  • Department of Health and Social Care: Date2Donate
  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs: Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference
  • Department For International Trade: Invest in GREAT Britain


  • case studies
  • our new media buying agency partnership
  • OASIS (Objective, Audience insight, Strategy, Implementation, Scoring/evaluation)
  • a guide to campaign planning
  • library of further resources

Case studies

Below are some examples of case studies from this publication.

Data and Ducks: The Self Assessment Campaign

HM Revenue & Customs

The HMRC self assessment campaigns help 11 million UK customers to do their tax returns on time and avoid penalties. This campaign faced the challenge of improving on the record breaking results of 2017 when 93% of their customers filed by the deadline, without spending more money.

Going against accepted industry practice of using ‘positive insights’ in order to influence behaviour when developing their creative, HMRC instead used ducks in order to personify the negative ‘niggling’ feeling customers said they felt when putting off doing their return.

With messages such as ‘don’t let the thought of your tax return peck away at you’ and ‘whatever you do, don’t duck it’ to add charm and engagement, the ducks received 98% positive press coverage. The campaign’s approach led to a record-breaking 94% of customers filing by the deadline, helping to generate £30 billion for the UK economy.

The campaign was also even more cost-effective than the year before with the results showing similar levels of awareness and recognition, despite the 46% reduction in media spend.

First World War Centenary Commemoration

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

In October 2012 the Government set out its ambition for a truly national First World War (FWW) centenary commemoration on which to build an enduring educational and cultural legacy.

To meet comms objectives of Understanding, Remembrance and Recognition, DCMS targeted a national audience with a particular focus on young people and mothers of school-aged children. These audiences were reached effectively by phasing the campaign around key milestone events – from the ‘Lights Out’ moment in 2014 marking the beginning of the conflict, through to the anniversaries of major battles including Gallipoli, Jutland, the Somme, Passchendaele and Amiens and finally a major multi‐venue event to mark the centenary of Armistice Day.

Creating emotional resonance was crucial in bringing the FWW to life and making it meaningful for 21st century audiences. This meant working with descendants and creating case studies that would engage people across the UK. This was a fully integrated campaign which was digitally-led with bespoke social media content plans for each major event and a steady drumbeat of awareness-raising activity in between.

The campaign achieved some impressive statistics. Social media coverage of the armistice commemorations had 1.2 million mentions and achieved 809 million impressions with engagement in 164 countries around the world. Also, since the start of the campaign, the Imperial War Museum has welcomed over 9 million visitors to its museums. A 21% increase on the previous four years. The campaign helped drive more than 8 million life stories to the IWM ‘Live of the First World War’ website.

Prison Officer Recruitment

Ministry of Justice | HM Prison & Probation Service

The Prison Officer Recruitment campaign has been one of the most successful in recent years.

After the 2016 MoJ white paper outlined the crucial need to recruit 2,500 prison officers by December 2018, they were able to build a campaign targeting men and women aged 25-35 who were looking for a career, not just a job. The targeted audience were typically from a customer service background, with good people skills but not necessarily a range of academic qualifications.

The campaign also prioritised generating advocacy among friends and family members of potential applicants by repositioning the role of a prison officer to be on a par with other uniformed services, such as the police. The team met the target of over 2,500 additional hires by March 2018, significantly ahead of schedule and under budget. The campaign also increased the applicant diversity, with 40% female applicant and 30% from an ethnic minority background.

In addition, the number of people who said they would support a close friend or family member who wanted to join the prison service by 17%, up to 75% within 12 months.

More information

To find out more about any of these campaigns, contact us at