How Labour’s “baby number’’ campaign ticked all the boxes; except content strategy

Labour's NHS-driven social campaign, inviting people to find out their 'baby number', ticked all the boxes except one. Keep an eye on your micro-content and make sure you don't fall in the same trap...

 How Labour’s “baby number’’ campaign ticked all the boxes; except content strategy

Labour's NHS-driven social campaign, inviting people to find out their ‘baby number’ almost had it all. But at the last minute, they dropped the ball – and made it all about them. Keep an eye on your content strategy and make sure you don’t fall in the same trap…

It's personalised, social, shareable, relevant and beautifully built – a tool that allows you to find out which number baby born to the NHS you are. So why did this, launched as the Labour party's recent fundraising campaign, feel so hollow?

Birth of a great idea

It's such an inviting concept and a genuinely excellent bit of digital content, after all. The timing was spot on. Launched on the 66th birthday of the NHS, this campaign capitalises on all those warm and fuzzy feelings many of us have about our health service anyway (Remember how misty-eyed the nation got when Danny Boyle Busby Berkeley’d the whole institution in 2012).

So you want to know where you fit in with the NHS’ story? All you need is your date of birth – and, of course, your current postcode and email address. (All the better to lobby you with, my dear.)

You then scroll through to a mobile/tablet-optimised landing page. A full-bleed shot of a 1950s midwife holding newborn twins illustrates the news: ‘I am baby number 14,815,513’.

Each subsequent screen gives you information to make you proud, and remind you how valuable our health service really is: 145 people had their life saved by a heart transplant last year. In the 26 minutes you’ve been reading, 51,307 prescriptions have been given out. 35 more babies have been born.

Falling at the final hurdle

It’s moving, it’s up-to-the-second, it’s well-designed and the copywriting is clear, plain and well-optimised for its platform. Up until the final screen: 

Labour NHS campaign

In that final call to action, they smack you back into reality – this is partisan politics, not a charity fundraiser. And it's not about saving the NHS, it's about beating the Tories.

That’s a fundamental misjudgement that we see frequently in organisations of all kinds – they project their own needs onto their content instead of their users. The potential voters Labour want to reach are more likely to want to save the NHS than beat the Tories. They’re also far more likely to be persuaded by a call to action that models the outcome they want to see, and one that carries through the personal message that’s been woven into the whole campaign. Consider instead:

‘Donate now and help save your NHS.’

Maybe even back it up with a policy commitment or two?

Labour were so close to a really compelling campaign, then at the last minute, they reminded us that it doesn't matter what's in it for us – it's all about them. Don’t make the same mistake with your content – put your user, your reader, your customer or your voter first. It’s not enough to provide something diverting. Show me what’s in it for me.