Carrot 1 – Stick 0: Getting Past Teenagers’ Selective Hearing

We can’t resist giving ourselves a gentle pat on the back after having seen the recent blog post by Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health England National Director for Health & Wellbeing.

In his post, entitled Social Marketing 2.0, Professor Fenton addresses the power of advertising, and encourages us to become more creative in our approach and more focussed. He uses as an example the hugely successful Stoptober campaign.

As he says: “Stoptober ‘chunks’ the process of quitting – stopping for a month is less intimidating than stopping forever … It gives daily evidence based support to participants and creates a social network of people who are stopping together and supporting each other along the way.”

He won’t find any argument from us. Our approach has been proven to be effective time and again with every school and local authority we work with.

We know that young people don’t respond to being ‘nagged’ about risk taking behaviours. We know that young people choose to ignore exhortations to stop smoking, not drinkjust say no. Why? Because the power of the peer group is always going to beat the power of national advertising campaigns.

Using R U Different? to deliver positive, highly localised, messages to young people in their schools, actually works. How do we know? Because we measure it.

Take our recent work in Swindon for example. We discovered that while in reality 9 out of ten students never smoke, the perception held was that 1 in 2 do smoke. Focussing on this value allowed one school to change perceptions around smoking to a belief that 7 out of 10 are NOT smoking.

The conclusion is straightforward. Understand the reality and present a positive message to engineer change.

“Simples” as they say in another well-known advertisement campaign!

But don’t just take our word for it…see what the Public Health team, students and residents of Swindon have to say in this short video.

Would you like to learn more about how you can make change through effective prevention rather than expensive cure?

For more information about R U Different? and our approach to influencing healthy decisions in young people, contact

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