The NHS has unveiled a comical campaign in a bid to increase the use of 111 – its free phone line for healthcare needs are 'less urgent than 999'.
Marking M&C Saatchi's first work for the public health service, the multi-channel push aims to get millions more people using the phone number and plays on the frenzy a self-diagnosis can prompt.
The film at the heart of the campaign marks a departure from the previous service-led messaging employed by the NHS to a more human-led approach. Conjuring up the familiar moment of uncertainty most have experienced when faced with an urgent health concern, it tells the story of a man working himself up as he uses the internet to self-diagnose.
As he sits painfully clutching his stomach, several versions of him swarm around, showing a frenzied mindset versus one that "doesn't want to waste anybody's time"
As the various iterations of himself debate over his symptoms, our protagonist works himself up until he finally gives 111 a call - demonstrating that it's better to be sure than ignore a health problem that's causing you anxiety.
Phil Bastable, head of marketing for NHS England, said: “NHS 111 is a fantastic service that provides the public with a convenient way to get the right medical help or advice when they need it, however, there are still people who don’t know what NHS 111 is for or that in most of the country you can now access it online.
“This campaign uses a scenario that everyone can identify with and shows in a humorous way how people can react to an urgent situation that NHS 111 could help them deal with, we think this is a really creative and engaging campaign.”
Mark Goodwin, M&C Saatchi deputy executive creative director, said: “We’ve all faced the ‘is it serious or not’ dilemma. Swiftly followed by ‘what on Earth should I do?’.
"This 111 campaign dramatises the internal tussle between ‘do nothing’, ‘consult Dr Google’ and ‘get me to A&E’. In doing so it positions 111 as the one place you can turn to for exactly what to do. It’s been a great experience working on this and, hopefully, it will mean more people will get the help they need when they need it.”