Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Sex sells... even in Social Marketing?

NHS Portsmouth have just launched a new internet-based video to help encourage young women and especially young men, to visit the dentist. Rather than the usual straight laced, po faced approach you might expect, this one has... well, shall we say a little more bite!

Watch the video below, but be warned, it's somewhat of a racy affair.

Phew! Has Social Marketing ever been so sexy? Either way, judging from the figures on it's Youtube page, it's certainly managing to spread the message. In little over a week since it was published, it's been viewed a staggering 95,000 times, which is a great number for such a campaign. To illustrate this, just look at the figures for the other videos on NHS Portsmouth's youtube channel. I'm sure they're all fine films in their own right, but despite this, the nearest number to their latest effort is just 104 views... and that's over 7 months.

So, why have they had so much more success with the new film? It doesn't take a marketing genius to make a confident guess that the answer is sex. Whether by individual sharing through Social Media channels or the numerous blogs and news agencies that have embedded the video, it's all drawn attention and brought viewers.

It's yet to be seen if the key outcome to increase visitors to the dentist in Portsmouth will be achieved, but getting it seen by so many is a great move towards that.

Sex does sell, as Advertising and Marketing agencies have always known and exploited for all it's worth. Over the years, sex has been used to flog virtually anything and everything, from french fries to foot cream. It's marketing gold; it grabs and holds the attention, gets talked about, and often makes the consumer believe they'll be more attractive by choosing such a sexy brand.

But sex is a goldmine that Social Marketers have to be very careful about mining. It may offer huge benefits, but is it always appropriate? Quite patently, no. While dental hygiene can quite easily be associated with sexual appeal, for other areas it just won't work. Campaigns aimed at children would obviously be out, as would, say, cancer screening.

Many subjects could work though. Sexual health is an obvious fit. Smoking cessation and drug abuse could be put within a similar context to the video above, as could obesity. All should be handled with care and sensitivity, but if it gets the message out, it's seriously worth considering.

Given the risk of being seen to trivialise and titillate, verging on exploitation, I'd say the video above is a brave move by Portsmouth NHS, but one that should be applauded for it's innovation. Early signs indicate that it's going to pay off, but time will tell. If it does, will others follow suit, ushering in an strange new era of sexy Social Marketing? Just a thought...

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Run by the community, for the community

eskimosoup have been working up in the North East (that’s more North, and more East than our base in Hull) to provide a suite of marketing materials that support the rebrand of a thriving day centre in Northumblerland.

Lynemouth Day Centre is run by the community, for the community. It has for over 25 years been providing quality care and a wide range of activities that support a full and active life for elderly people in the Morpeth area.

eskimosoup were awarded the contract after we were invited to enter a joint bid with market intelligence specialists Information by Design. The work, which includes a new website is part of a wider project to modernise the day centre and ensure that it continues to meet the changing needs of the community it serves.

A brief video that encapulsates the essence of the Lynemouth Day Centre can be viewed here.
It includes brief interviews from day centre workers and clients, including one lady recalling her 100th birthday party as a special memory of the centre!

The project has been a joy to work on with some lovely people involved. We look forward to seeing Lynemouth Day Centre being at the heart of the community for another 25 years.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Tell us about Mental Health in the Yorkshire & the Humber region.

Have you any news, events or stories you'd like to share regarding mental health in the Yorkshire and Humber region? If so, please email details to 'rich@eskimosoup.co.uk'. I'll tell you more on this later in the article.

Helping people share knowledge and experience is one of the primary roles of the internet in today's society. This may be on a personal level, with interests and hobbies, or at the other end of the scale, with professionals sharing the ins and outs of their latest projects. The latter can, in effect, help people to work in collaboration with one another, pooling resources and expertise, regardless of geographical distance or working for separate organisations.

I discussed this in relation to Social Marketing in an article back in January. I talked about how a hub for Social Marketing, where organisations could share details of their initiatives, could help others to run more sophisticated and effective programmes, building on what had been done elsewhere, rather than starting from scratch.

I suspected and indeed hoped that some such site already existed and sure enough, a week later Showcase was brought to my attention. Run by the National Social Marketing Centre (NSCM), this was exactly the sort of thing I was talking about and is a great resource for professionals in the field.

Mental health in the workplace is another area where sharing knowledge and experience can be a huge help, both to employers and employees. For those in the Yorkshire and Humber region, we cater for this with The Hub, a website offering a wealth of extremely useful information and insight into this potentially difficult issue.

Commissioned by the Yorkshire & Humber Improvement Partnership and funded by Bradford District Care Trust, the Hub provides a lot of support and guidance, but we think it can go further. We especially want to bring more to it's news page, making it the 'go to' online destination for all that's going on with mental health in the region, and not just in the workplace.

We aim to bring together all the events, initiatives, research and news that we can find, along with welcoming and encouraging others to contribute the same. This will allow mental health workers to raise awareness of their work, as well as gain ideas and insight from the work of others.

So, if you work with mental health in Yorkshire and the Humber or know someone who does, please let them know. Even if you don't, but find something that might be of interest, please email me at 'rich@eskimosoup.co.uk'. Thank you.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Banner Jones Website Goes Live

Banner Jones are a Law firm with bases of operations in the Midlands and South Yorkshire. eskimosoup have been working with them since 2010 and have developed a website that better reflects their brand.
The website now has a better use of images to communicate the brand values and to help guide users of the website to services that are important to them quickly and easily.
As with all eskimosoup websites www.bannerjones.co.uk is built upon our own content management system, allowing Banner Jones to update their site at no extra cost. Analytics are built within the website and reporting features have been set up so marketing and business decisions can be made upon the information we gather here.
The website has been set up to take online payments from clients and can provide instant conveyancing quotes.
“eskimosoup have been a real joy to work with. From the very beginning they showed a genuine interest in our business which gave me the confidence that they were the right people to work with.  Their expert team are extremely helpful and a creative solution was found to every hurdle I came across. We are thrilled with the results and I know this is the start of a long working relationship with the team at eskimosoup.”
Ann-Marie Lowe, Marketing Manager

Monday, 11 April 2011

Does Government really want to listen?

As we discussed in last week's article, the Coalition Government have indeed announced a "pause" in the progress of their NHS reforms through parliament. The next two months will see a re-engagement with NHS staff, GP's and the Public, where the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, will again state his case for reform and again, listen to the objections and concerns.

Once the Bill starts to move again, we'll see if this actually has any affect on it's contents. Doctors were angered when the Bill was introduced, as they felt that they hadn't been listened to. The 'consultations' the Government held with them, as well as with other health professionals, had little bearing on the details of their plan. People may react badly if they feel the same has happened again.

But if Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, is to be believed, the Government are open to amending the Bill, though not the "basic building blocks". That would be the GP Consortia, abolishing PCTs and health services being put out to tender, so those are essentially non-negotiable. If these are exactly the points that people take issue with, will the Government want to listen?

Anyway, I was going to take the opportunity with this weeks article to also take a break from the reforms... but it can be difficult!

The intention of this blog is as we say in our 'about' to the top right of this page, but the importance and potential repercussions of the proposed changes to the NHS has meant that it's somewhat dominated our output of late. That's not to mention the nationwide lull in Social Marketing activities, which the uncertainty about the future has inevitably brought, and has resulted in a reduction in our source material.

Our readers could be of help in this, so if you know of or run a Social Marketing campaign that we could feature, please leave a comment or email me at 'rich@eskimosoup.co.uk'. Thank you.

So, today's article was meant to be a follow up on one we published back in February, just before we relaunched as 'Rewarding Marketing'. In that, I discussed my intention to volunteer for the Big Society, offering my Social Media marketing skills to Ferens, the Council run art gallery in the centre of Hull, our home town.

The gallery is a great institution in our city. It's in the UK's top ten and welcomes thousands of visitors each year, but has little online presence. I happen to run an extremely well used facebook page for art in Hull, so know that there's a large audience who'd no doubt relish the opportunity to be more connected with the city's largest and most prominent gallery. There's also the wider public and the nationwide audience that, say a facebook page, could meaningfully engage with.

If done well, this would result in more interest in Ferens and more people through the doors. Other objectives, such as encouraging investment, donations and volunteers, or recruiting for the associated charity, Friends of Ferens, could also be targeted.

Unfortunately, despite all this, Hull City Council declined my offer. They can't afford to spare the time for their staff to run a page, but feel uncomfortable with a volunteer from outside the Council taking the role, even if they're a proven marketing professional, with a track record of delivering Public Sector projects.

This seemed a little odd, as like all other councils, they almost certainly outsource certain marketing projects, so should be comfortable with that. In cash strapped times, shouldn't they jump at the chance of free help?

It got me to thinking, that with art so low down the agenda, was it more a matter of being potentially more trouble than it's worth?

Following these lines of thought and broadening the scope, it struck me that both local and national government haven't exactly embraced Social Media. Considering it provides a platform by which government could connect and communicate en masse with it's Public, in a more effective and far reaching way than any other medium provides, even going so far as to say it could enhance democracy, shouldn't there be more interest?

I wonder if it's a matter of fear and focusing on the negatives.

I ran a series of workshops around the Country last year, for Marketing Directors in Private Schools. Though the aim was for us to demonstrate the enormous benefits that Social Media can bring, a large portion of our time was spent trying to allay fears. More than one participant used the word "terror" in regards to the implications of a platform where a single voice, say from a pupil, could spread far and wide, damaging the precious reputations of their schools. How to deal with such instances became a primary focus of the workshops, with all the good stuff taking a back seat.

Those involved though, did realize that the 'head in the sand' approach was possibly even more dangerous. Whether they liked it or not, their institutions already had a presence in Social Media, with a multitude of conversations taking place, as well as numerous unofficial profiles. If the schools themselves wanted a say in how they were presented on Social Media, they had to bite the bullet, overcome their fears, and get involved.

It is understandable that a school would be cautious, considering the sensitive nature of dealing with children coupled with the fact that each would have hundreds of children, as well as parents, staff and other stakeholders, regularly using Social Media. Trying to control or at least influence all those voices could seem a daunting task.

Those numbers would be far higher for local Councils and much higher still for central government, and perhaps that's the crux of their worries. When you could expect a reasonable, if not large proportion of comments to be negative or complaints, would you want them displayed online for everybody to see? It wouldn't portray you in the most positive light, but it would be honest, open and transparent, which is what government increasingly purports to be.

But like the schools, there's already endless pages and profiles in Social Media voicing those opinions. We always say to clients not to delete negative comments, but instead, deal with them in a genuine and meaningful way. This turns those negatives into positives, demonstrating a willingness to not only listen, but take action on what's said.

It may be a large undertaking for an organisation with the number of stakeholders that local and national government have, but it would represent a willingness to truly engage with the public and give them more of a say in the governance of their own lives. Surely, that's an opportunity that should be seized upon, rather than avoided.

Chris Middleton takes on Goliath!

Our MD paid a visit to Aerial Extreme's newest addition recently. Goliath! is a 100ft monster of an experience and not to be out done by anyone or look like a bit of a wimp he climbed all 100ft and then jumped off.

eskimosoup are now in the second year of looking after Aerial Extreme's full marketing programme. Goliath! is a 100ft simulated parachute jump and eskimosoup have been working hard in promoting it. The official press launch was last Wednesday and BBC Look East was amongst the braver press who jumped off for a 5 minute piece that evening.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Humber Open for Business

eskimosoup are part of a new team running Business Week 2011 who believe they’ve hit a winning formula for this year’s programme of events across the Hull and Humber region.

Organisations from the private, public and voluntary sectors have come together to present a week-long showcase of the best practice and opportunities the region has to offer, culminating with the sparkling finale of the Yorkshire International Business Convention (YIBC) which this year has a “winners” theme.

Now in its seventh year, Business Week in the Humber will feature 30 top events and is still the biggest event of its kind anywhere in the world. This year’s Business Week launches on Monday 5th June with the Bondholder Breakfast, and concludes with the YIBC at Spa Bridlington. The YIBC line-up includes Ashes-winning England cricket skipper Andrew Strauss, All-Blacks rugby legend Sean Fitzpatrick, and Sir Tim Berners-Lee; the British physicist and visionary who created the World Wide Web.

New events that look like sure fire winners for Business Week 2011 include a charity football tournament, a 40th anniversary business reception from Business Week brochure sponsors Hugh Rice Jewellers, and a Green Hull City Day that explores the great potential the Hull and Humber has in becoming a global leader in sustainable energy. Top class events returning to Business Week include the Business Celebration Dinner, the Institute of Director’s luncheon and the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce Expo.

The Business Week has maintained its high standard of programming through proactive approach of a new team and effective handover from the team that had grown Business Week to become a true world leader. In light of key organisers standing down to focus on their businesses and funding cuts to Yorkshire Forward and Humber Economic Partnership, the mantle has been picked up by Hull and East Yorkshire Community Foundation (HEYCF). HEYCF have brought in eskimosoup as communication partner, and chair a dedicated Business Week steering group whose role is to ensure that Business Week continues to raise the bar by attracting top class events and speakers.

John Gilbert, Marketing Director of eskimosoup said: “I take my hat off to the team that have achieved so much with Business Week over the past few years. We are very excited and proud to be a part of what is unquestionably the biggest fixture in the business calendar and look forward to helping the ambitious partners make Business Week a continued success.”

Business Week starts on Monday 6th June and ends on Friday 10th June with the Yorkshire International Business Convention. Click here to go to the Business Week website.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

A "pause" for NHS Reforms: Can the Government afford a U-Turn?

An article over at the Independent claims that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, will this week announce a pause in the radical NHS reforms currently going through Parliament. This comes following increasing criticism over the past few months from the Public, doctors, nurses, unions, MPs and virtually everyone else who has an interest.

The delay, expected to last about three months, will be used by Cameron and Lansley to further press the need for the changes and to reassure worried parties of the integrity of the plan. Cameron, who has styled himself as a champion of the NHS, especially wants to dismiss fears of privatisation.

Hopefully, if the reports are true, this won't just be a matter of reiterating what has already been said. It's safe to say that GPs and other health professionals have a strong grasp of the nature of the reforms by now and simply telling them it all again won't do any good. The pause needs to be a period of true engagement; the sort that was promised with the 'consultations' between last summers white paper and the bill being introduced in Parliament, but never quite materialised.

As we discussed in an earlier article, a lot of ill feeling has come about because the concerns raised in those consultations appeared to have had little to no bearing on the resulting Bill. Doctors, amongst others, were angry as they felt that they weren't listened to. If the same happens again, with Government restating what's going to happen, without being open to changing it's plans in response to feedback, then the pause will only make things worse, further infuriating stakeholders.

However, if significant changes are made to the plan, there is a problem that is rarely mentioned in articles predicting a u-turn on the reforms. That problem is that to a large extent, the reforms have already been put into motion. Well over 50% of the country is now in the hands of "pathfinder" GP Consortia. Initially these were proposed to test the changes, but seem to have been rolled out further in anticipation of the Bill being passed. Many PCT's have also been merged, in preparation for their abolition.

In a time of austerity, with the NHS overhaul being ostensibly about saving money, the cost of implementing all this, only to have to change the system back again, would be a tremendous waste. Initiating reform before it's ratified will perhaps be a lesson for the Coalition in not counting chickens before they're hatched.

It would seem that the Government really cannot afford for their Bill to fail in Parliament, but unless they meaningfully respond to feedback and make changes were necessary, the threat of striking doctors, public demonstrations and rebelling MPs, may prevent any other outcome. A Government Bill hasn't been defeated since the Shops Bill in 1986, but then, there's never been a bill proposing such radical restructuring of the NHS before.