Media: Strategy Analysis - Asthma UK targets worried parents

Brand: Asthma UK
Client: Rachael Williams, assistant director, individual giving, Asthma
Brief: Create awareness and reappraisal of asthma while encouraging
Target audience: Parents with young children
Budget: Undisclosed

Media: MC&C
Creative/direct: Claydon Heeley


Asthma is a widespread problem in the UK, with 5.2 million people living with the condition. Asthma UK is the only charity dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of this large section of the country's population.

However, for several years, Asthma UK has found it both difficult and expensive to recruit new donors.

Research undertaken for the charity has shown that members of the public often have the perception that asthma is a common, but not serious, condition.

This potentially dangerous misconception was seen as the major obstacle for the charity to overcome in attracting donations.

The campaign was based on four key insights: that only people with asthma, their families or carers would become donors; that the seriousness of asthma needed to be conveyed; that the charity needed to demonstrate its value to people with asthma; and that relationships could then be developed into regular donations.


The Asthma Attack Card was created as an easy point of access for the consumer. Designed to be carried in a wallet or purse, it explains what to do in the event of someone suffering an asthma attack.

Some 1,400 people die each year of asthma attacks. However, 90 per cent of these deaths could be prevented. By offering the Asthma Attack Card free of charge to the public, the agencies were able to highlight the seriousness of the condition, get sufferers to identify themselves and demonstrate the value of Asthma UK to them.

- DRTV: The charity only had a small budget for the task and decided to focus this on a single week with a DRTV campaign.

Given the limited budget, MC&C could not target all sufferers - so parents of young children with asthma were chosen as the group that was most likely to discuss the campaign and respond.

The agency bought one week's activity on 21 stations, with a focus on children's channels. Two spots were purchased in every ad break, one of 40 seconds and one of ten seconds. The commercial, created by Claydon Heeley, used a stark, simple style, focusing on a single-minded, succinct message - and silence - to help it achieve standout in a crowded, noisy market.

- PR: PR support for the week's activity made asthma nurses and supporters with experience of extreme asthma available for interview.


There were a total of 18 million viewings of the commercial.

A total of 26,189 calls were answered, up 60 per cent on target. Each caller was offered an Asthma Attack Card and 46,788 cards were distributed, some 60 per cent above target.

Some 90 per cent of callers (23,647) opted to receive further communications, and 2,296 became new cash donors by giving over the telephone - up 17 per cent on the target.

The respondents are now being tested in different areas of Asthma UK's telemarketing and direct mail conversion programme to find the most effective way to develop those people who responded to the commercial.

THE VERDICT - Charlie Varley planning director, MediaVest Manchester

One of the first things you do when you want to find information on any medical condition is Google it.

Google Trends also provides useful data on impressions volumes by search term.

Asthma UK had a pretty quiet third quarter in 2005 but picked up massively at the end of 2005 and has maintained these levels throughout 2006 to date. The top UK town searching about Asthma UK by a country mile was St Albans. You'll all remember early Sunday morning on 12 December 2005, when, in the largest incident of its kind in peacetime Europe, the Buncefield Fuel Depot in Hemel Hempstead blew up. It seems that home and world events that affect air quality are the best way to mobilise the Great British Public to find out more. Follow that Mr Advertiser.

Asthma UK launched this five-day only "top and tail" DRTV campaign on Monday 6 March 2006 to call on concerned parties to get an Asthma Attack card.

Conventional response wisdom would have recommended a longer time period and a wider use of ITV channels, and might have suggested timing of activity to coincide with National Asthma Week a few weeks later. But this campaign proves that a powerful TV idea, executed with gusto, can deliver.

The charity fielded 26,189 calls after transmitting only 73 network adult TVRs on ITV1, GMTV and a mixture of satellite channels (including Sky, Jetix, Cartoon Network and Baby Channel). This amounted to reaching 18 per cent of the adult population, with 17 million adult impressions. The direct response people reading this will already have calculated that this is a massive response rate. Reaching such a broad cross-section of young children and older audiences with this station mix is a remarkable achievement.

I'd like to believe that MC&C and Claydon Heeley were with each other every step of the way in meshing the creative and media approach. If not, they were lucky, because it was a potentially risky approach to use a single idea in a single medium.

SCORE: 3 out of 5.

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