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NHS England launches 'Jack-in-the-box' campaign to encourage people to check out potential cancer symptoms

David Murphy

NHS England has launched a major campaign to help people overcome their fears of visiting the GP if they feel they may have early symptoms of cancer. The campaign, called Jack-in-the-box’, was created in partnership with M&C Saatchi London.

The campaign aims to increase the number of people presenting early with symptoms that might be cancer, so that their worries can be allayed, or an early diagnosis can greatly improve their prognosis.

The push is based on the insight that when someone notices a change in their body, alarm bells can ring, and when the thought of cancer pops into their mind, it can increase their fear of coming forward. It seeks to encourage people who have noticed a concerning change in their body to overcome this fear and contact their GP.

A tense 60-second TV spot uses the metaphor of a man carrying and winding a jack-in-the-box to show the worry people can carry around with them, and the way their tension builds up as time passes. The ad demonstrates how, statistically-speaking, most people who go for tests, are told they don’t have cancer – that the box is empty. And for those who do, an earlier diagnosis is always better – and makes it much more treatable.

The campaign is running across TV, VOD, out-of-home, press and social channels. Media planning and buying is by OMD and Wavemaker.

“This powerful campaign presents a new and positive message for anyone who is concerned about a bodily change that they think could be cancer,” said Phil Bastable, Deputy Director, Head of Campaigns and Social Media at NHS England. “It addresses the fear barrier that stops people coming forward, showing how a visit to the GP often puts an end to any fears – or enables an earlier diagnosis.”