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The NHS... for its public health messaging: The Drum editorial team’s best of 2020

The NHS has risen to the challenge of educating the public about the pandemic over the last year

It’s that time again, when we look back at the agencies, the brands, the organizations, movements and trends that have shaped the past year. In 2020 – a year so many of us would like to forget – our industry of problem solvers proved time and again that they have what it takes to muck in, help out, ask questions, shape cultures and change the world. It is them that we celebrate in our New Year Honors.

For the NHS, coronavirus has been as much a challenge of communication as it has been of care. And in the last year, the NHS has faced the challenge of educating the public about the pandemic while also facing down the efforts of those dedicated to spreading misinformation and disinformation.

The health service has been at the forefront of the UK’s public health messaging efforts over the last year. Its status as the ’most relevant’ brand of the year for the British public even prior to the pandemic (as found in a Brand Relevance Index survey) is unsurprising, given the depth of feeling among the public for the NHS – a passion that gave rise to the ’clap for our carers’ moments during the first of 2020’s lockdowns.

Despite the knocks doled out to politicians and private companies over the nationwide Covid-19 response, trust in the NHS itself – crucial at the best of times – has remained strong.

There’s no better evidence for that than the many tributes created by artists, businesses and the public to the health service this year. From public art installations such as Gratitude, which saw 49 sculptures erected across Birmingham, to portraits of NHS staff by photographer Rankin and the crayon-drawn pictures of nurses and doctors that popped up in the windows of homes across the country, the health service can claim brand love like no other.

Much of the communications produced during the last year, including the key ’Stay at home’ and ’Wash your hands’ messaging, has been produced by agency partner MullenLowe Group. The agency was also commended for its work from before the pandemic, including a recruitment campaign for the health service, called ’We Are Nurses’, which launched in late 2019. The work, which encouraged people from all walks of life to apply to work for the NHS, picked up the Grand Prix at The Drum Marketing Awards 2020.

The NHS also launched a campaign encouraging pharma visits, created by M&C Saatchi, which parodied movie melodrama to encourage patients to book earlier appointments.

We’ll be celebrating all our favorite things about 2020 on thedrum.com until early January. Keep an eye on our New Year Honors hub to read more.

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