In 2012, the government formed the Health Promotion Authority (HPA) in bid to improve the health and well-being of New Zealanders across the nation. The responsibility of leading it was placed in the capable hands of Clive Nelson. And he hasn’t disappointed.
Since his appointment, he has addressed some of the biggest issues facing New Zealand society, including alcohol consumption, smoking, health education programmes, mental health awareness, immunisation, rheumatic fever prevention, and the importance of heart and diabetes checks.
The target audiences for the HPA campaigns are often veryspecific as well – groups impacted by disease, illness and injury.
Add to that the fact the HPA is often competing against the marketing programmes of large commercial companies that contribute to the issues the HPA is trying to overcome. These competitors include brands with many years of history, loyal customers and supporters, and significant marketing budgets.
Plus, the agency works in a fish bowl – it’s often tasked with contributing to government health targets that attract considerable media and political attention.
So, Nelson has to try and balance the complex needs of diverse priority audiences, and there are high expectations for the use of taxpayer dollars.
As the HPA points out, it is tasked with giving effect to government policy, so needs to respond even if the request seems impossible.
And these impossible tasks also often have impossible time constraints. Nelson has had to deliver high profile campaigns in time frames as short as six weeks – campaigns on complex social issues that have massive political ramifications if they’re not handled well.
In every campaign released under his charge, Nelson has shown government agencies don’t have to be boring or talk down when delivering messages to Kiwis.
For example, tackling New Zealand’s worrisome drinking culture with the creative and funny ‘Say Yeah Nah’ and ‘No More Beersies’ campaigns, HPA has successfully competed with commercial booze brands to get recognition, and it says the drinking culture is changing.
Nelson has also helped tackle social issues like rheumatic fever, marketing on sensitive topics to hard-to-reach families. The HPA’s marketing has also contributed to lower Kiwi smoking levels.
Quitline reports calls to the provider are up 41 percent year-on-year since Nelson took over the marketing. Mental health is not beyond the agency either – it was the HPA that worked with John Kirwan and FCB to deliver the depression initiative that has helped thousands.
Providing behaviour change results quickly is hard. However, Nelson has already helped the agency achieve extraordinary results, with all of its annual targets being met, and all campaigns either reaching or exceeding their measures for target audiences.
In its campaign to prevent rheumatic fever, it has seen 88 percent taking action as a result, with hospital admissions for the illness dropping an incredible 45 percent since the campaign started in 2012.
In its campaign to put a dent in New Zealand’s drinking culture, it found its ‘Say Yeah Nah’ campaign helped make incremental changes in Kiwis attitudes to drinking.
Research found 31 percent started drinking less alcohol as a result.
Each of the 11 programmes HPA is tasked with managing has gained year-on-year increases in success.
No matter what the campaign, Nelson always puts creativity at the heart of what the organisation does. And this approach has driven great results, with all campaigns reaching extraordinary measures.