Newcastle University

International positioning strategy

Challenging age-old stereotypes

Being elderly is pretty miserable, right? Life is all aches and pains, regret and loneliness.

Actually, thanks to a landmark study published by Newcastle University, we know things are far more positive for most people aged 85+.

Admiral worked closely with the university to build a PR and public affairs campaign around its ground-breaking research into the ageing process.

Our nationally award-winning ‘Changing Age’ campaign not only secured blanket national and global media coverage for the university; it also challenged public perceptions of ageing.

It was a watershed moment in the UK debate on its ageing population, impacting Whitehall as well as media audiences around the world.

 

Admiral’s work involved: 

  • A high-profile media campaign on the back of the research paper;
  • An online campaign, driving traffic via social media to the university’s website;
  • Recording a vodcast with the lead author of the study, Tom Kirkwood;
  • Supporting the launch of the Newcastle Charter for Changing Age, which encouraged people to change their views on ageing;
  • Seeking support was sought for the charter from influential politicians, charities and business leaders;
  • Securing a studio day in London for back-to-back radio interviews about the campaign, urging listeners to sign the charter; and
  • Running a national photography competition to challenge the perceptions of ageing among the general public, while also driving traffic to the university website.

 

The results:

  • Blanket regional, national and international coverage including a front page in the Financial Times and Daily Express and an in-depth interview piece in the Guardian;
  • ‘Lead feature’ coverage on BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today Programme;
  • 25 radio interviews in total, leading to exposure on BBC Radio 5 Live, ITN online and regional BBC TV news programmes amongst others;
  • Over 7,000 page views from around 2,300 unique visitors to the university’s Changing Age web page in just two weeks;
  • 1,400 charter signatures, including from key charities, politicians (including the Prime Minister and leader of the main opposition) and other authorities on ageing such as Age UK and the WI;
  • Over 600 entries for the public photography competition, making it one of the most successful competitions ever recorded by media partners;
  • Influencing political heavyweights – advisers to the then-chancellor, George Osborne, informed us that the language he used in his Budget speech that year on people living longer was influenced by the charter. In his speech he said: “But this guarantee of a decent income in retirement has to be paid for at a time when people are living much longer than anyone predicted. We should celebrate that fact, but also confront it.”;
  • Opposition leader at the time, Ed Miliband, was also influenced by the charter, referencing ageing and society in his party conference speech; and
  • David Anderson MP brought an early day motion requesting political support for the Charter for Changing Age. It received 26 cross party signatures from local and national MPs.

Admiral won the national CSR campaign title at the PRCA Awards for the campaign, as well as a regional CIPR award.

“Admiral’s work with Changing Age was outstanding…Key features were the skill and power of the Admiral team in helping us to craft our messages and to secure high-profile coverage in a wide range of media, and their capacity to work well with academics by responding to and accommodating the particular needs of a diverse group of our staff.

“I was particularly impressed by the way Admiral helped us to communicate the Newcastle Charter for Changing Age and how they secured massive international press coverage for our scientific research findings while remaining fully sensitive to our concerns not to be seen by our academic peers to be overstating our case.”

Professor Tom Kirkwood CBE, Associate Dean for Ageing, Newcastle University

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