NHS Leeds West CCG



Taking antibiotics Seriously: Raising awareness of one of the biggest threats to health this century

If we continue to misuse antibiotics, by 2050 a paper cut could become deadly.

An experiential marketing campaign that painted the city red, Seriously has plastered the back of buses, taken over Briggate on a 12ft screen, flooded supermarkets and stadiums and made appearances everywhere from the classroom to the corner shop.

Bold and straight-talking, the Seriously campaign has spanned 3 years and multiple audiences, reaching students, the general public, and high prescribing areas across Leeds.

Throughout the campaign we gained support of the public, who pledged to play their part in taking antibiotics Seriously; only when needed and exactly as their doctor advised. 17,000 pledges and counting…

Our brief:

Our brief was to develop a brand identity, the tone, the language of key messages and to develop a fully integrated marketing strategy that would allow the campaign to effectively reach as many young people within the Leeds area as possible.

The main campaign objectives:

To develop and deliver an awareness campaign built upon insight from key audience groups (mainly college and university students).

To develop and communicate key messages around antibiotic resistance.

To ensure messages complement existing awareness campaigns in Leeds and nationally.

To suggest activities that are likely to have the greatest effect, within the budget available, based on the latest marketing and advertising trends for the youth (16-25) market.

To monitor and evaluate the campaign.

The youth audience didn’t want the serious message to be diluted in any way.

We developed the ‘Seriously’ brand name to emphasise the tone of the campaign. Insight taught us that the youth audience felt the idea of superbugs and the issue being such a huge global threat was a lot to comprehend, it almost seemed unreal.

The ‘Seriously’ brand reinforces the fact that although some of the campaign key messages sound almost out of this world, they are indeed very real and people should stand up and take notice – seriously.

From the beginning, we felt it was essential to involve brand ambassadors. We worked with colleges and universities to recruit a team of seven students, ages 16-23, who all promoted the campaign to peers within their campus as well as to the general public.


We used some impactful advertising to get attention, including an 8ft balloon that was paraded through high footfall locations.

We set out to create a campaign that was bold, attention-grabbing and that would create a talking point. In order to achieve this we created a simple campaign identity with just two colours and a clear, bold font, with a number of slight typographic twists to reinforce the messages.

We chose to evaluate campaign engagement based on the number of pledges of support, as well as participation from city-wide stakeholders such as student groups, universities, the local council and volunteer groups. The brand was made available for others to use and become stewards of our messages.

Zombie Dave Seriously Viral

An example of one of the Seriously virals produced by students at Leeds Trinity University. The students really got behind the campaign message and let their creativity shine.

“The event on Briggate was a success, a huge thanks to Magpie and the student team for pulling this off. We’ve had some great feedback from health professionals who like how we are engaging with members of the public.”

Natasha Noor, NHS Leeds West CCG

  • 17,000+ pledges (and counting!)
  • 7 FE & HE students recruited to our campaign team
  • 4 events held
  • Engagement from city-wide stakeholders
  • 3 student groups from Trinity Vision (Leeds Trinity University) created campaign videos
  • Support from Leeds Beckett University and Leeds City College to host our giant balloon and experiential activity within key city locations
  • Coverage in Yorkshire Evening Post and on Made in Leeds TV
  • Endorsement from Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust
  • Support from Leeds Rhinos
  • Campaign coverage was picked up by the Australian Antimicrobial Stewardship
  • Shared with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in USA
  • Highly Commended Community Communications at the Antibiotic Guardian Awards 2017