Talking about Britain Get Talking: ingredients for campaign success

By Antonia Kanczula, Managing Editor

To fire our own creativity at Thrive HQ, we love to dissect inspirational health campaigns and understand what makes them a success.

And we’re huge fans of Britain Get Talking from ITV, now the UK’s most recognised mental health campaign.

Part of ITV’s five-year commitment to support mental and physical wellbeing, it was launched in 2019 with a (silent) fanfare by Ant and Dec, with a simple core aim of encouraging more people to stay connected. In a bold TV moment, Britain’s Got Talent was paused for a minute to encourage viewers at home to talk among themselves.

Britain Get Talking has since garnered accolades aplenty. But more importantly, it’s having a demonstrable real-life impact. Nine out of 10 viewers think the campaign is relevant. And it’s already surpassed its initial target of getting 10 million people to take action to improve their mental or physical health by 2023: since 2019, it has inspired over 100 million conversations.

It also represents a huge public shift in attitudes towards mental ill health. Britain Get Talking’s profile shows how far the UK has come in banishing the shame and stigma of a once taboo topic. Never has it been more needed than during the unprecedented stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Susie Braun, Director of Social Purpose at ITV says: “Britain Get Talking launched with a huge ambition of encouraging more people to connect in order to look after their mental wellbeing. When the pandemic began, talking to others became more important than ever before.”

So how exactly has Britain Get Talking got Britain talking? We’ve identified its winning ingredients.

Easy

According to the EAST framework developed by the Behavioural Insights Team, making your behaviour change campaign easy for your target audience will help make it fly.

Tackling mental ill health, it goes without saying, is complex and challenging. But at the heart of Britain Get Talking is straightforward, accessible messaging. It aims to encourage us all to chat and listen to each other to help ease stress, reduce anxiety and improve our mental wellbeing. It doesn’t overwhelm you with highfalutin health information or impossible-to-achieve goals. The campaign website, for example, includes simple listening and talking tips that literally anyone and everyone can embrace.

High-profile

Attractiveness is another core feature of EAST – and Britain Get Talking has it in abundance with bold branding and celeb endorsement. ITV’s top talent including Phillip Schofield, Holly Willoughby, Joel Dommett, Lorraine Kelly and Charlene White give the campaign next-level pizazz.

Collaborative

Britain Get Talking is supported by leading mental health charities including Mind, YoungMinds and the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and links out from its central web hub to the NHS initiative Every Mind Matters. This is a mutually beneficial collaboration – giving the campaign gravitas and access to specialist information, while boosting the visibility of its partners.

Creative

Simple messaging may be key to Britain Get Talking’s success but that doesn’t come at the expense of innovation and creative spark. The campaign has revved up its profile and impact with various attention-grabbing ventures. Aside from the famous one-minute silence during Britain’s Got Talent, we’ve seen the UK’s first silent ad break, an origami-inspired print pull-out and the ‘most famous’ video call of all time.

Agile

A good campaign doesn’t stand still. Britain Get Talking has evolved year on year. This includes launching sub-campaigns under its umbrella: Apart. But never alone and The better we talk, the better we feel. The spin-off ITV2 x CALM What gets you through partnership has also shown big results with younger audiences.

And ITV continually sets ambitious new targets: in 2022-23, for example, it wants to encourage 200 million actions to improve mental and physical health and is linking up with child health campaigns Eat Them to Defeat Them and The Daily Mile.

Integrated

It’s hard to ignore Britain Get Talking. It has permeated ITV’s biggest shows, TV and radio ad breaks, social media and print. It has a presence on its charity partner sites and there’s a podcast. It’s the very essence of a seamlessly integrated campaign and in a noisy world for users, this means it gets heard.

Antonia is the Managing Editor at Thrive. She is responsible for overseeing our team of editors and delivering engaging health content.

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