Social Question

Coting's avatar

Have any of the UK government's public campaigns seen positive effects?

Asked by Coting (371points) February 15th, 2010

Such as the adverts to stop smoking, drink responsibly, etc?
I’ve just never seen any evidence that any of these have worked.

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9 Answers

Sophief's avatar

Because they haven’t. Who takes any notice of adverts?

ModernEpicurian's avatar

(Ba-ba-ba Ba-babybell)

Yeh, adverts have no effect on me.
Hm, the government adverts for such things are double edged. At the end of the day the government makes that much money from tax on these items, why would the government want people to stop?

Coting's avatar

Lets take for example the government raises 11 billion on smoking each year and need to spend 5 billion on smoking related illness each year, if they stop everyone smoking then they can tax something else without having to spend that 5 billion. Maybe this is too cynical also maybe they want the best for us.

TheJoker's avatar

Basically, no… the governments misguided use of shock-tactics will continue this trend.

ModernEpicurian's avatar

You are right in theory, however the point with smoking is that it is addictive. People will still pay for it no matter how much it is taxed. This is not the case for most other things where people have cut-off points.

The_Idler's avatar

@ModernEpicurian I call bullshit on this, binge-drinking is no problem in Scandi, cuz a pint is megabux!!

Mind you, cocaine is the biggest rip-off I’ve ever seen, but that’s still pretty popular.

I guess we’re both half right, the addiction factor is significant, but price really does have a big effect on prevalence of use, even with addictive substances.

On topic: I think the ad campaigns are next to useless.

seldomseenkid's avatar

What kind of evidence would you want? The thing with social marketing is you can’t measure ROI very easily – with regular advertising you can usually link a new campaign with an increase (or decrease) in sales. With behavioural change, you don’t always have a clear baseline to measure from.

How many people accurately self-report their smoking habits in the first place? And how many will accurately self-report the progress of their quitting? And how can you determine whether they quit because of an advert or because of their GP or because a relative is dying of lung cancer or because their budget is too tight to afford cigarettes any more? It’s really complex. It’s easier with e.g. Army recruitment campaigns – did we recruit more good people than the year before? Then our advertising is working.

Obviously advertising needs to show some kind of ROI, otherwise there would be no point in doing it and departments wouldn’t be able to justify spending money on it. There is evaluation in place for social marketing, and it’s evolving all the time, but actually marketing campaigns aren’t always the catalyst for behavioural change. Usually you’re much more likely to change if, e.g. your peers don’t drink a lot than if you see a billboard telling you drinking is bad (substitute almost any other example here). An advertising campaign is something that sits alongside that to support you and normalise the change, but it’s pretty rare anyone successfully alters their behaviour based on an advert.

Coting's avatar

“How many people accurately self-report their smoking habits in the first place?”
Won’t the government see decreases in sales as prove more people are cutting back on smoking?

They spend millions to see no improvements.

seldomseenkid's avatar

Decreases in official sales might equally be due to increased levels of tobacco smuggling.

The things they measure are usually uptake of Quit services with the local PCT, people collecting Stop Smoking packs from their dr, sales of patches, etc. In the context of one of my past jobs, I have seen a presentation which showed a remarkable increase in people contacting their dr about stopping smoking after an integrated marketing campaign which had TV ads, website ads, and a continued email campaign (you signed up at the website then it kept sending you reminders that you were going to quit, I think). That does cost money to do – and not all drs’ surgeries report in the same way, or at the same time, or to the same level of detail, so you still can’t be 100% sure.

What would you rather the money was spent on?

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