FCB raises its own happiness levels with rare IPA Effectiveness Awards

FCB New Zealand’s work for the National Depression Initiative has won plenty of industry accolades. And it’s now won one of the rarest: a gold and best international prize at the prestigious IPA Effectiveness Awards in the UK. 

As a release said: “The campaign acknowledged that depression is an all-too-common mental condition that is expensive to treat and, in the worst cases, costs people’s lives. To spread awareness and tackle prejudices, FCB New Zealand created an above the line campaign integrated with an online self-help tool. The ‘Journal’ is a free solution designed to guide people through evidence-based techniques they can apply to their everyday lives to help manage their depression. The campaign achieved a return on marketing investment of five for the government and, more importantly, some users reported that it saved their life.”

Just two New Zealand campaigns—Krona Margarine ‘how advertising helped make Krona a brand leader’ won Gold – Grand Prix in 1980 and Anchor Butter ‘until the cows come home’ won a commendation in 1994—and two Australian campaigns have ever won one of these awards, so it’s an honour bestowed on a rare few campaigns. 

Stephen Smith, chief customer officer at ASDA and one of the judges, said the panel was impressed by the use of John Kirwan as an brand ambassador who really connected with the New Zealand public on the taboo topic of male depression and said the campaign “delivered on insight, creativity, execution and most importantly results”.

In total, nine gold, 13 silver and 13 bronze prizes were awarded, along with eight special prizes. The top prize of the night, the Grand Prix, was awarded to adam&eveDDB for its Foster’s campaign, which delivered £32 of revenue per £1 spent on advertising. It also took the top prize in 2012 for its John Lewis campaign.  

“Despite the variety of different categories, causes, creative, channels and conclusions, what underpins all of these winning campaigns is the clear, unquestionable return on marketing investment that they have generated,” says Lord Davies of Abersoch, CBE and 2014 Chairman of Judges, IPA Effectiveness Awards. “Any client in any doubt over the powerful effect advertising can have on a business need only skim these incredible papers to be amazed and convinced of this.”

As for the NDI, in a story a few months back, FCB managing director Brian van den Hurk took us through the process and while depression rates continue to go up, here and around the world (the World Health Organisation has said depression will be the number one medical issue by 2020) and New Zealand’s suicide rate is still a cause for concern, especially among the youth, he said the campaign has been extremely effective for those who have used it. 

Around 46,500 people have registered to use the online self-help tool The Journal to date. And because it’s online, he said the health outcomes are very measureable.

“We can track the people who go through the programme and their level of depression … And what we know is that people who go through The Journal, their depression rates decrease at a very significant level [90 percent of people who complete it achieve an improvement in their medically recognised PHQ9 score. And, according to some, it’s just as effective as anti-depressants]”.

Even though it was launched in 2010, van den Hurk says The Journal is still going strong and getting 600 new registrations per month. But he believes the reason this campaign has worked so well is due to integration, something FCB is pretty big on. 

“Mass media draws attention and awareness, which drives people to the site, and when they’re there the people who need more help can get through to a call centre and talk to counsellors who can see how they’re doing in real-time.”

Van den Hurk says Kirwan, who was awarded a knighthood for his contribution, has been instrumental in the campaign’s success. 

“We can’t talk about The Journal without talking about JK. He’s made an amazing contribution. He relates well to New Zealanders and his experience of depression comes through as being very real, so he’s played a huge part. He’s also never taken a dollar for his work and he’s always willing to give his time to do more. He’s a great advocate.” 

He says FCB worked closely with the Ministry of Health, the Health Promotion Agency, clinicians and Dr Simon Hatcher, associate professor of psychiatry at University of Auckland, on the structure and flow of the programme, with coders brought in to build the site. And, in many ways, The Journal was ahead of its time because since then online therapy—and self-diagnosis—has become much more common. He says a lot of countries have looked at running the programme, with Canada trialling it and the UK and Ireland also interested. It has also been officially acknowledged by the World Health Organisation. But health tools like this are country specific, van den Hurk says, and they need to take different contexts and health regulations into account before they can be delpoyed. 

A Harvard researcher who worked with NASA on finding ways to decrease depression in astronauts has also looked at the programme, and van den Hurk says he told them that it was amazing New Zealand could run a scheme like this across the country. He said it just couldn’t happen in the US because the health system is basically run by big pharmaceutical companies and the best they could probably hope for would be to run it across a union.

Van den Hurk says it hasn’t seen anything to this extent in any other market, often because a huge amount of clinical testing is required before tools like this can be used. The National Depression Initiative had a medical reference group working on The Journal and he says clinical testing was mooted, but it decided to spend the money on developing the best possible online therapy system instead. And that decision has been vindicated. 

“In effect, it has been tested in real life because we can see the results,” he says. And while The Journal was originally intended to help those with mild to moderate depression, he says the fact that it also worked just as effectively for those with severe depression is a big endorsement of the programme’s effectiveness.

A lot has changed in the online world since the site launched, so it’s currently it’s working on a big upgrade, with the data on how people have been using the site being employed to make improvements to usability and interaction. 

To view further details about the winning campaigns and additional effectiveness content visit www.ipa.co.uk/effectiveness

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