- A joint Department of Health and Saatchi & Saatchi initiative being unveiled today could lead to the tripling of the Government's £48 million public health campaigns budget.
The scheme, which will invite private companies to contribute to the funding of health awareness campaigns, will be revealed at a conference at The Dorchester Hotel, London, arranged by Saatchi & Saatchi Cause Connection, Saatchi & Saatchi's dedicated cause-related marketing unit.
For every £2 contributed to a campaign by a participating company, the Department of Health will add a further £1.
Tessa Jowell, Minister of State for Health, commented: "This is an innovative and exciting way of enlisting public, private and voluntary sectors to tackle health inequality. I know that harnessing the creative energy used to promote brands to change health behaviours will improve people's lives and help us meet our health targets."
To coincide with the announcement, research carried out by Cause Connection has found that while marketing directors support the value of cause-related marketing and the brand enhancement it can provide, they remain by and large sceptical as to whether it would affect a consumer's choice of product.
When asked what values CRM might add to their brand, 94% of respondents cited only positive attributes such as social responsibility, caring and good citizenship.
However, when asked their opinion of a 1998 Mintel study which found that 61% of consumers would be more likely to buy products or services associated with good causes, just one third (33.7%) believed consumers would actually behave this way in practice.
Marjorie Thompson, director of Saatchi & Saatchi Cause Connection, said: "It's time for companies to put their faith in the consumer. As we approach the Millennium it is clear that successful companies will tap into the public mood and take ethical issues seriously. The first step in this direction is to use existing community affairs budgets strategically."