Case Study

How Asthma UK Campaigned to Stop Unfair Asthma Prescription Charges


Asthma UK works to stop asthma attacks and, ultimately, to cure asthma by funding world-leading research and scientists, campaigning for change and supporting people with asthma to reduce their risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.

Asthma UK has a huge untapped warm audience with over 2 million visitors to their ecosystem each year. To put into context the size of the opportunity, there are 5.4 million people with asthma, translating to 1 in 5 households affected by asthma.

The Problem

Asthma UK wanted to call on the UK Government to review legislation around prescription charges. Currently, people with asthma have to pay for their prescriptions, while people with other long term conditions, like diabetes, do not.

The law around conditions exempt from prescription charges was created 50 years ago and has only been updated once since, in 2009, to introduce an exemption for people who have cancer.

Asthma UK wanted to mobilize people with asthma to support the campaign by asking them to sign a petition, write to their MP and encourage people to support financially.

The Solution

The first integrated campaign run by the organization and a team was pulled together with a wide range of stakeholders. There were many different considerations, including audience, decision makers and supporters.


This was defined as people with asthma who are currently paying for prescriptions and people personally affected by asthma (including family and friends) who are outraged about the unfairness of the charge. The focus was particularly on students and those on low incomes.

Decision Makers

The ultimate decision maker was the Secretary of State (SOS) for Health & Social Care, who would be influenced by the Health Select Committee MPs, Special Advisers and health inequality key opinion leaders.

Supporter Journey

Business rules were introduced so people on the prescription charges journey would not receive any other communications from Asthma UK. There would be a ratio of three engagement emails to every financial ask with the focus being on engagement, and Asthma UK adopted a less formal organisational voice sending emails from a named individual.

In terms of the implementation, acquisition was a key focus of the campaign with supporters being recruited from multiple sources and it was important to understand how the individual channels performed. Tracking parameters were used to measure where the supporters were coming from.

Marketing automation was used and there were different automations per recruitment source to easily compare performance of open rates, click-through rates and unsubscribed.

Additionally, a series of conversion tests took place using Google Optimize to drive up both the number and volume of donations.

The results

Asthma UK had a target of 18,000 petition signatures and achieved over 75,374. When the campaign launched, the email list had 46,197 subscribers. 14 weeks later that had increased by 30,321 subscribers (66%). 302 people gave a cash gift and 18 people went on to set up a direct debit. 3,926 emails were sent to MPs. The Labour Party included a manifesto pledge to abolish prescription charges in England.

At Engaging Networks, we’re proud to work with great charities like Asthma UK to improve people’s lives and make lasting change. Many thanks to Asthma UK for collaborating on this content. To learn more about this great cause visit their website.

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