NHS Change of Heart

Helping the fight against Covid-19 by changing young people's minds about getting the vaccine.


The NHS Integrated Covid Hub wanted to change young people’s minds about getting the Covid vaccine. The ambition was to get as many young people as possible in the region vaccinated.


Using comprehensive ethnography, behavioural analysis, and co-creation with our audience, we discovered the many barriers and motivations to getting a Covid vaccination.

Our behavioural insight-led strategy centred on giving young people the permission, opportunity, and freedom to reconsider and to have a ‘Change of Heart’.

We knew we needed to acknowledge people’s reasons for not being fully vaccinated in our creative – if we didn’t show that we understood our audience, we’d be ignored.

We wanted to show that we knew these fears felt real to them, and that it was quite normal to have some questions and doubts. But we made it clear that there was no reason to feel trapped in their views.

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Our goal was to give our audience a way out of vaccine hesitancy without losing face or their own sense of identity. We wanted to inspire them to make up their own minds and reconsider, without feeling foolish or contrary.

We did this by creating a campaign with four storytellers. Each one with their own reasons for previously being vaccine hesitant. We cast authentic-looking, down-to-earth locals who spoke to the broad and heterogeneous audience known as ‘Young People’ – the skater, the mum-to-be, the Jack-the-lad and the budding football lioness. Each person was from a different part of the region, and they told their story simply and directly. They laid out their initial concern, then described the turning point that led to their change of heart.

The campaign was live for two months across multiple media outlets, with a call to action to point people in the direction of official NHS information. Outlets included TV, VOD, digital radio & streaming services, cinema, YouTube, paid social, digital display and out-of-home all supported by PR and media relations across the region.

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of audiences took at least one of our desired actions.


The campaign was highly effective in reaching our audience, with 65% recalling at least one element.

Independent evaluation found that 84% of the audience took at least one of our desired actions. The most common action was to visit the NHS website (37%). Encouragingly, 24% stated that they had a vaccination after seeing the campaign, and 11% stated that they had ‘changed their mind about wanting a Covid vaccination’.

The evaluation also compared actual behavioural data from the NHS. All over the country, the number of vaccinations among under 30s was declining sharply. But in our region and during the campaign period, the decline was much less severe. Nationally the number of vaccinations dropped by an average of 43%, but in our region, it declined at a much lower rate of 30%.

The fact that the region outperformed the national average on first dose (by 9%), second dose (by 10%) and third dose (by 21%) showed that the campaign worked as inspiration to take the first step, as well as acting as a nudge to get fully vaccinated.

The campaign exceeded our target, helped to buck the North East’s national vaccination trend, was clear and compelling, and changed people’s minds. The campaign’s success has been recognised nationally, winning several awards across marketing, PR and at the NHS Communicate Awards. It’s a campaign that we’re extremely proud of.

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