NHS Stockport: Smoking cessation

How can branding reduce smoking rates in a community where smoking is the prevailing norm?

In 2009, The Hub worked with NHS Stockport on a National Social Marketing demonstration project in Brinnington, Greater Manchester. This small, tightly knit community had an adult smoking prevalence rate of 52% and a range of deeply ingrained cultural and social norms that perpetuated it.

Central to the work we did was the development of the ‘Lose The Fags’ brand: a phrase, a sentiment and a visual identity that reflected and resonated with the cultural identity of the community, based on client research and ethnography undertaken by our designers. This short clip features an interview with our client on this project, Sarah Clarke, Marketing Manager at NHS Stockport, attesting to the success of the project and the ongoing legacy that the brand has secured.

As a community-based, direct engagement approach, Collaborative Change recognises the limitations of branding and communications as a driver of social change, but also champions their strengths when understood and deployed in the context of a holistic behaviour change intervention. In the current case, the development of brand and communications campaign, inspired by the community in which it will be used not only did its standard job of raising awareness, but also:

  • Aligned itself with existing community value sets—it become part of the community
  • Fostered group identity to galvanise new behaviours
  • Created a social object—a common reference point that the community could discuss and share
  • Repositioned smoking behaviour (or more accurately, cessation behaviour) to make it more aligned with community values, therefore reducing the sense that cessation would lead to ostracisation
  • Externalised and articulated community sentiments that would otherwise have been left implicit in the face of adverse social norms


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