Thank you to everyone who tweeted, messaged and sent Health Minister Dan Poulter our #DAN video in May 2015, asking him to stop fining people without medical exemption certificates.
The video made a massive impact, with 1,277 views within 24 hours, nearly 15,000 Twitter impressions and Facebook reach of just under 45,000. We put this campaign together very quickly, with no budget, using existing footage from an episode of the BBC's 'I'm Alan Partridge' intercut with campaign information and a simple call to action.
It was nimble, it was funny, it was clever – and it worked.
Together we persuaded the Government to change its rules on medical exemption certificates – saving many thousands of people from being unfairly fined.
Background to the campaign
People with diabetes and other long-term health conditions are entitled to free prescriptions, but technically they need to have an up-to-date medical exemption certificate. In practice, the rules have never been enforced; many healthcare professionals have not been aware of them and many people with diabetes have never even been told that they need a medical exemption certificate.
So when the NHS suddenly began strictly enforcing the rules in late 2014, many thousands of people with diabetes started being fined up to £100 for having claimed free prescriptions without having an up-to-date certificate.
We needed to influence the Government and the NHS so that they:
- agreed to warn people with diabetes about the need to have an up-to-date certificate before fining them;
- agreed to reimburse the thousands of people with diabetes who had already been fined.
Diabetes UK met with the NHS to make the case that these fines were unfair. But while the NHS was sympathetic with the predicament of people with diabetes, it did not show any willingness to quickly change the rules so that the fines stopped.
The 'Dan!' campaign
Having been unsuccessful in using traditional media relations to get the rules changed, we created a viral campaign on social media to rally the combined voice of people with diabetes to raise the pressure on the Government, and on Health Minister Dan Poulter, who was responsible for this area, in particular.
We had the idea of creating a video called “Dan!”, which would consist of the Alan Partridge footage intercut with messages about the campaign. This would get across the point that we were trying to get Dan Poulter’s attention.
Our in-house team created the video, which incorporated the hashtags #DAN and #stopthefines, and we published it on YouTube on March 17.
We shared with our Twitter and Facebook followers with the simple call to action of retweeting or sharing, @mentioning the Health Minister Dan Poulter and including the campaign hashtags.
With our supporters spreading the word, the video was viewed more than 1,000 times on the day of the launch and Shadow Health Minister Jamie Reed tweeted that it was “campaign of the year so far”.
As well as this, a large number of people tweeted Dan Poulter directly, with 137 people using #stopthefines on the day of the launch.
The campaign led to a change in the rules literally within hours of being launched. This has had a huge positive effect on the lives of thousands of people living with the diabetes.
PR Week Awards 2015
- Gold Award: Campaign of the Year – winner
- Campaign of the Year: Public Affairs – winner
- Campaign of the Year: Not-for-Profit – winner
The Drum – Social Buzz Awards 2015
- Best Socially Responsible Initiative – nominated
You can read how events unfolded in our Storify feed below.