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National Depression Initiative: 2014 IPA Effectiveness Awards Shortlist Interview

A long-running campaign for the New Zealand Ministry of Health offering online self-help tools, such as a journal, for depression has delivered cost savings which equate to a ROMI of 5:1.


Q1. When and why did you decide to launch a campaign?

BH: “There was a need to persuade people to get help early and to give help to people who would never want to go near health providers. We decided to build a tool (the Journal) that took people on a managed journey through their self-recovery.”

Q2. How did you feel about the original brief?

BH: “The original brief was a conventional one that recognized something more needed to be done for self-help (for people with depression). FCB went back with a more challenging response and, given the level of trust in the partnership, our client approved taking an innovative approach.

 “The final brief came from working collaboratively with the client, clinicians and key stakeholders. We looked for ways to get the biggest gains for depression within a context of what had already been achieved.” 

Q3. How hard was it to get the campaign signed off?

BH: “Great campaigns come from great clients. Our clients were very open to innovative thinking and worked closely with us to manage the risk and get all of our stakeholders engaged in the campaign.” 

SS: “Development of the campaign was informed by quite a bit of emerging research evidence. We were able to argue for the ‘green light’ based on evidence of population need, cost-effectiveness and the results coming through in peer-reviewed literature.

 “We used the research evidence and New Zealand rugby star John Kirwan’s profile as the campaign’s front man to get political support and the funding followed – it was a collective effort.”

Q4. When and how did you first know that you had been successful?

SS: “I could see the campaign was going to be successful from day two.   I completed an analytics review and was staggered by the traffic to the site.”

BH: “The extent of the success became obvious within a few months. Although The Journal was designed for people with mild to moderate depression, people with severe depression were also using it, and getting very positive results.”

Q5. What was the biggest challenge in demonstrating the effectiveness of your work?

BH: “Simpler advertising ideas are easier to understand, but we have always had to make it clear that The Journal would have a bigger impact and effect over a longer period of time and ultimately drive behaviour change.”

Q6. How did this campaign compare to previous campaigns by the brand and competitors?

BH: “This campaign asked people to build personal strategies to manage their own depression, rather than seek help from others.”

 “One of the original client team members told us that in terms of social marketing campaigns funded by the Ministry of Health, it was exceptionally successful.” 

Q7. What lessons did this campaign teach you?

BH: “Having bold ideas, even in high-risk categories, such as depression. Great ideas come from the fringes and by combining the ideas from communications teams and technical and medical experts we managed the risk and created outstanding results.”

 “It was particularly useful to have a small number of key players, all with a deep understanding of the topic, and a passion for the cause that meant everyone involved was generous with their time and the value they contributed.

 “Also, close collaboration with clinicians helped us to match what JK thought was important with the clinical evidence to create a self-help option that really works.” 

Q8. What were the low points/high points of this campaign?

BH: “High points? Seeing the impact this campaign has had on people’s lives and depression. Receiving the numerous letters from husbands, wives, children and individuals crediting the campaign with saving their lives.” 

SS: “Low points included the challenges this threw up to the agency which forced us to go outside the boundaries we normally work within.

 “A high point was getting the news that John Kirwan had received a knighthood for his commitment to this campaign, and also the regular feedback we have received, stating that we have saved people’s lives.”

Q9. What would you do differently if you did this campaign over again?

BH: “Nothing.”

Last updated 06/10/2014

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