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be honest, Talk to Frank - or just "Frank" as it seems to have become
- is actually the Home Office drugs unit. They dictate the information to be given
out on the Frank website, but as with many government departments these days the
presentation has been contracted out to an advertising agency.
bit of the background to Frank was revealed on Kevin Flemen's "KFx"
site back in 2003
Home Office unveiled its new "Talk To Frank" campaign in May. The linked
campaign includes a telephone helpline service, a website and a new advertising
campaign to promote the site. The launch and publicity campaign will cost £3m
to Frank is put together by a large number of agencies.
PHONE SERVICE: The rebranded "Talk to Frank" service is provided by
the Scottish-based Essentia Group. (http://www.essentiagroup.com/).
describe themselves thus:
the rules of an entire industry, the Essentia Group is the UK's leading contact
centre specialising in health and social welfare - a technology-based provider
of governmental and commercial organisations information and advice services
in the area of health and lifestyle management.
do operate a number of smoking and mental health services and have a track-record
in substance use; presumably therefore, some staff have a history of working with
substances and new staff are receiving a level of
training to achieve this
level of competence.
ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN: The "Talk to Frank" campaign was designed by Mother
working in conjunction with PHD. Mother are big players in Adland, and their roster
includes such health-inducing products as Coca-Cola and environmentally sound
companies as Unilever. Unfortunately they do not have a website but you can send
them feedback on the FRANK campaign by clicking here: email@example.com
for the launch was handled by Fishburn Hedges, a London based PR company who also
provided PR for Connexions.
The website and email interface was put together
by EURO RSCG CIRCLE (aka Circle), a global digital marketing agency. Their website
is at http://www.circle.com/contact/index.html
is "Talk to Frank" any good. Reception from the mainstream drugs field
was mixed. Roger Howard, was warmly receptive of the site and offered the following
uncritical comments to the Guardian:
has been extensively trailed in the community where young people and their parents
seem to be receptive to the campaign. "Frank will hopefully provide better
and more accurate information for young people and their parents to encourage
them to talk to each other about this topic and we look forward to seeing the
evaluation on the effectiveness of this in the future."
has been made by the Government and the media that the "Talk to Frank"
campaign represented a step change away from "Just say no" approaches
and a new, more honest and credible approach.
reality however, the National Drugs Helpline had never promoted itself in this
way; previous publicity campaigns for the Helpline had concentrated on the line
as a source of factual information, such as the long-runnning ads about cocaine
and ecstasy that were often on XFM in London.
welcomed the rebranding too, describing the new "Talk to Frank" approach
as "more friendly" than the NDH.
There were a number of criticisms
of the NDH; the most important of these was the ridiculously short time window
target for callers. Many callers were simply referred on to a local service, and
call-handlers assiduously bundled potentially long callers - especially distressed
parents - on to other services as quickly as possible. If "Frank" is
really providing a
better service, it will be interesting to see if there
is a greater "depth" to the work, or it restricts itself to simple advice
and referral on.
idea of "talk to Frank" was clearly intended to promote the idea of
speaking to an informed friend: but the advertising company decided that the informed
friend should be someone who sounds like he is white and male.
the fact that the campaign was trailed, this seems like a strange choice: why
Frank? Why a male? How does this fit in with any sense of cultural diversity?
Some organisations have disapproved of the way that the police have been portrayed
in the adverts too.
KFx has referred a number of errors on the Website to relevant bodies and is satisfied
that they are being dealt with at the time of writing.