Creating a campaign to educate and engage on a topic people avoid

How do you spark a conversation on a topic people want to avoid? Public Health England was wrestling with this challenge for years. Despite widespread capabilities, testing rates for chlamydia—the most common sexually transmitted infection in England—remained less than 20 percent of annual targets. BD, the global medical technology company which produces chlamydia tests, challenged APCO to reverse this trend. Creating a campaign which utilised humour and tapped into cultural trends, we sparked a conversation people wanted to join, resulting in testing nearly tripling.


Chlamydia, the most common sexually transmitted infection in England, is particularly prevalent in young people. Yet only 20 percent of local authorities met the annual detection targets set by Public Health England. Testing rates were particularly low among young adults aged 16-24. BD challenged APCO to develop a campaign to reverse this trend.


APCO created a pilot campaign with East Riding of Yorkshire—an area with particularly low testing rates—and its sexual health care service, Conifer. Targeting young people aged 16-24, we created a digital strategy using humour and pop culture to raise awareness of chlamydia screening. Partnering with former Love Island contestant, Dr. Alex George, an NHS doctor who frequently covers health and wellbeing topics on his social media profiles with over 1.3m followers on Instagram, we created a content calendar coinciding with both the end of Love Island and Sexual Health Awareness Month. We adapted common Love Island phrases to address sexual health with funny and engaging content, always emphasising the importance of getting tested and linking to testing sites.


The campaign smashed expectations, with over 775k impressions and 25k video views in the first months. On Instagram, our posts were shared a total of 125 times, and we increased the account’s following by 140 percent. Following the launch of the campaign, East Riding saw test requests increase more than 2.5 times compared to pre-campaign levels. The number increased further the following month, showing the staying power of the outreach. Based on the success of this campaign, BD is working with Public Health England to replicate this success in other areas of the country.

Dr. Alex George shares his message about testing on his Instagram.

get testing campaign social media posts

Campaign social media posts

let's talk about sex social media posts - BD

Campaign social media posts



Increase in social media account followers.


Increase in test requests during the months following the campaign