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19 agencies to share £30m NHS social marketing pot

The NHS in the North West has established a roster of social marketing agencies, with 19 agencies appointed to the framework.

There was unprecedented interest in the opportunity, with over 120 agencies taking part in the procurement process. McCann Erickson Communications House is the only agency to secure work across all six areas of contract.

Other successful agencies include, Experian, ICE, The Solutions House, Finnamore Management Consultants, Corporate Culture, Dr Foster Intelligence, McKinsey & Co, The Hub, Uni Consulting, Barkers Social Marketing, Feather Brooksbank, Amaze PLC, BJL Group, Finn Communications, Forster, Freshwater UK, Staniforth and Triimedia.

The contract is available to over 50 NHS organisations in the region and the fully open European procurement process was overseen by the North West (NHS) Collaborative Commercial Agency in partnership with NHS North West, the National Social Marketing Centre and a number of stakeholder organisations including the regions three Public Health Networks and NHS Primary Care Trusts.

Social Marketing has risen quickly up the NHS agenda over recent years, since the landmark Public Health White Paper ‘Choosing Health’ 2004 and the subsequent establishment of the National Social Marketing Centre, which conducted a major review of Social Marketing culminating in the ‘It’s Our Health’ report (2006).

The report found that social marketing was under-developed in the UK and gathered a body of evidence as to effective practice elsewhere in the world from which the UK health and social sector could benefit.

The report challenged the NHS and partners to develop new and best practice and move away from an ‘awareness raising’ approach to improving health to a new relationship with customers based on investing in understanding customer behaviour and building marketing and intervention mixes based specifically on changing, or preventing, behaviours harmful to health and encouraging healthy behaviours.

The North West has taken a particular interest in developing social marketing capacity and capability in the region, looking to social marketing as an important addition to the mix of approaches to tackle the higher than average inequalities in health, both within the region and its seven million plus population, and between the region and the rest of the country.

Ben O’Brien of NHS Knowsley led the procurement on behalf of NHS North West while seconded as associate director for social marketing, as part of a programme featuring a range of measures to develop social marketing capacity and capability in the region.

He said: “We recognised early on that if we were missing a trick in not fully using social marketing in the UK then it follows that in our region, where we have some of the biggest challenges to improve health in the country, then it was something we needed to put extra effort in to develop.

“We conducted a review of social marketing capacity and capability in the North West in early 2008 which found some NHS organisations very well developed in social marketing but a majority of organisations on a journey and some only just beginning that. The whole concept of (social) marketing has to some degree been alien to the NHS but that has changed significantly over the last couple of years as more examples of successful social marketing come through, the business benefits are realised in terms of improved health, and we realise as a system that it’s simply about investing in understanding our customers and providing them with products, services and communications that are tailored to their needs – it’s becoming seen as much more natural territory for us.

“One of the most important findings of the North West review was that even where there was enthusiasm for social marketing, organisations – especially public health and communications departments – often had little experience, little in-house capacity and were unsure how to commission social marketing services or where to commission them from. Establishing the framework means that NHS organisations can be confident they are commissioning from pre-vetted approved agencies and can do so with much of the procurement red tape already dealt with. A training and support package has also been put in place for commissioners to assist them in specifying their needs and working effectively with agencies when commissioning from the framework.”

Mike Hope, North West Regional Development Manager for the National Social Marketing Centre said, “In establishing the framework we have specifically been looking for agencies that will be great partners for the NHS over the next three to four years and can learn and develop best practice alongside us. We’re very pleased with the outcome of the procurement process and congratulate all the successful agencies.”

The framework will be in place for three years with the option to extend to four years.

The estimated value of social marketing business for the 50 plus NHS organisations in the North West over the life of the framework contract is up to £30m.

The following agencies made the roster split across the varied lots:

1. Research & insight generation

Secondary and primary consumer research, insight and segmentation

Corporate Culture, Dr Foster Intelligence, Experian, Finnamore Management Consultants, Forster, McCann Erickson, McKinsey & Co, The Solutions House

2. Strategy & planning

Development of social marketing strategies and practical programme planning

Corporate Culture, Dr Foster Intelligence, ICE, McCann Erickson, McKinsey & Co, The Hub, The Solutions House, Uni Consulting

3. Stakeholder & public engagement

Specialist services in stakeholder engagement, partnership development, public, community and patient engagement

Corporate Culture, Dr Foster Intelligence, Finnamore Management Consultants, Forster, McCann Erickson, McKinsey & Co, The Hub, Uni Consulting

4. Design & concept development

The origination and delivery of creative work, concept and proposition development based on clear segmentations and consumer insight

BJL Group, Corporate Culture, Dr Foster Intelligence, Forster, McCann Erickson, McKinsey & Co, The Hub, Uni Consulting

5. Media planning / buying

Specialist media planning advice to suit clear target groups and specialist media buying services

Barkers Social Marketing, Feather Brooksbank, McCann Erickson

6. Media relations / PR

Specialist media and public relations services

Amaze PLC, BJL Group, Finn Communications, Forster, Freshwater UK, McCann Erickson, Staniforth, Triimedia

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