Government In Health Marketing Plan That Works Shocker!

If asked to name the the current coalition government's top achievement, people may either snigger and say "nothing" or perhaps mention an obvious policy decision. But just as parliament has been dissolved, there's a contender in marketing. For the first time, Marketing Week reported yesterday, cola sales are down and bottled water sales are up. It means -- again for the first time -- that water is the leading beverage category, by volume, in the UK.

So people are drinking less sugary fizzy drinks and choosing water. Presumably there's some switching going on here? If so, the sterling work being carried out by the NHS's Change4Life programme must surely be playing a major role?

I have no idea how personally involved either Conservative or Liberal Democrat minsters were in getting Change4Life launched and funded sufficiently to run mass media marketing campaigns. However, the NHS is behind the scheme, and so for every criticism the government gets for waiting times, and so on, it's only fair that this switch in public spending patterns should be flagged up as a success they have been at least partially involved in.

Then, if you throw in the fantastic 'This Girl Can' campaign by lottery-funded Sport England, you get a real sense of some joined-up thinking in getting people active and making better, more informed decisions over what they -- and their families -- eat and drink.

So it's important that we don't let this moment go by without mentioning it. If you're a cola marketer, of course, it might not be a moment to savour, but for all other media professionals, it has to be said that this is a pretty big deal. The television ads and billboards have been unavoidable and have cleverly not confused messages. The straplines have been very clear that people should get off the sofa and enjoy some exercise, as well as switch sugary drinks for a healthier alternative such as water. 

It may be part of a wider consciousness that is taking the fizz out of Cola sales both at home and abroad, but you have to say that the campaign is working. For the first time, cola sales are down and water sales are up. For the first time, water has become the leading beverage, by volume, purchased in the country. That is not just a long-winded politician's answer to a question they're trying to dodge -- that is a hard and fast fact. 

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