The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has selected the Fors Marsh Group to handle the new $250 million coronavirus campaign. The contract will last for one year, with much of the work set to be completed by January.
The selection is in line with the administration’s announcement that a new public messaging campaign would appear by November, as part of Operation Warp Speed. The campaign will be evidence-based and based on “principles of behavioral and social science” according to the CEO of the Fors Marsh Group, as he told PR weekly, according to the article by Fierce Pharma.
The Group has done previous work for several recent important public health campaigns. One of their most memorable includes “The Real Cost” campaign for the FDA, centered on reducing adolescent use of tobacco products. Another campaign for WPP and iHeart Media centered on reducing stigmas related to opioid addiction treatments. In addition to health related work the group is also doing voter and election related initiatives on behalf of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The group has worked with several additional agencies in the past, including the FDA, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The bid for the work asked for companies to submit proposals for traditional, digital and social media components. The campaign will be designed with partnerships with public health groups, as well as sports and entertainment industries. Some goals of the campaign would include providing information on therapies and vaccines, sharing best practices for businesses, information related to reopening of communities, and building a coalition of spokespeople. The campaign will be initially deployed in English and Spanish.
According to reporting by FiercePharma, the announcement has been met with pushback. While the campaign is said to “inspire hope”, many critics fear that it will be politicized given that we are in an election year.