Change 4 Life: govt's flexible brand

You’ll be seeing a lot of the Change 4 Life brand, and the associated bright Morph-esque characters whose aim in life is to tackle the growing problem of obesity. But whatever you do, don’t call it a government campaign, though – it’s a ‘society-wide movement’. Which essentially means, it’ll be everywhere: online and offline.
I’m almost becoming blasé about seeing government accounts on Flickr and YouTube. But they’ve done it particularly well, with the YouTube videos obviously kept short, and the Flickr photos being more than just ‘Minister shaking hands with‘ (although it’s a shame they’re ‘All rights reserved’).
The defining characteristic of this campaign – sorry, movement – will be ubiquity, through brand extension. DH is offering the full range of design assets for download from its website; and ‘services or products provided or commissioned by the NHS or local authorities’ are being encouraged to use the Change4Life name, logo and sub-brands. They’re also being encouraged to think up their own sub-brands; and whilst it isn’t permitted to just add ‘4 Life’ on the end of an organisation name, the design guidelines imply an open approach. A good few household names are signed up as members of the ‘business 4 Life coalition’ – although that in itself has attracted some criticism already.
Not for the first time, the campaign’s online call to action is to do a search; on the ads I’ve seen so far, no actual URL is quoted. It’s a risky strategy, but I guess there’s evidence to show that it worked OK on previous campaigns (?).
The website is a subdirectory of, but there’s no hint of NHS branding – in fact, no mention of government at all, other than a Crown copyright reference in the footer. There are reasonable attempts at interactivity. I like the postcode search listing all sorts of active activities near you, with a Microsoft Virtual Earth map, and a link into Transport Direct for directions. But the function to create your own character is a bit of a mess: choose a colour, height, and one of half a dozen poses… hardly much in the way of customisation… then, as far as I can tell, nothing. My customised Morph has yet to make his promised return to greet me.
The main objective of the site, at first glance, is to make me sign up for an information pack. Nothing inherently wrong with that, of course… but it could have been so much more. A personal diet/weight tracker, maybe. Some kind of ‘introduce me to a local sports club’ function. Even some kind of blogging / discussion forum thing. But as it stands, I don’t see any reason for me ever to return for a second visit.
Mind you, if the objective is to get me to go outside and run around, maybe that’s deliberate.

One thought on “Change 4 Life: govt's flexible brand”

  1. I’ve been worried that the “search online for…” method leaves vulnerable to groups like and this search term is much trickier than previous ones because it’s so popular with personal coaches already. For example, the top result on is at the moment. On a couple of minor search sites, the BHF criticism appears above the NHS site. Will this be the campaign that detonates the “search online for…” landmine?

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