Disney and PHE break down the essentials of collaboration amid Star Wars tie-up

For the fifth year running, Public Health England is working with Disney to bring cinematic inspiration to the Change4Life campaign. Here, the top marketers at both organisations explain why the collaboration works.

Anna Hill

Chief marketing officer, Disney UK

If you can remember running around the playground or your living room pretending to be your childhood hero or heroine, then you will know exactly how powerful kids’ favourite characters can be when it comes to encouraging positive behaviours.

Following joint research which found that 82% of children would be inspired to move more if they saw their favourite characters being active, Disney UK and Public Health England have worked together for the last five years to deliver annual Change4Life physical activity programmes featuring our much-loved characters – including Disney Pixar’s Cars 3 and Disney’s Frozen - all aimed at getting schoolchildren more active.

This year we’re incredibly excited to be using a Star Wars theme for the first time. Star Wars characters are hugely popular among primary schoolchildren, so the new Change4Life Train Like A Jedi programme is definitely dialling up the all-important fun factor to continue momentum.

Double Olympic gold medallist Jade Jones features in our play-along Train Like A Jedi video – and she’s not the only inspiring role model involved in our campaign. Recently Jade was joined by Star Wars actor John Boyega in a surprise visit to John’s old primary school in London’s Camberwell to put the kids through their paces.

Seeing their excitement, and how much they loved trying out the Jedi-inspired moves, was a true reminder of how maximising fun and ‘play-time’ activities keeps kids really engaged.

We’re always looking to collaborate with like-minded brands to further our longstanding Healthy Living commitment that uses the power of Disney characters as a force for good, and helps make being healthy fun and easier for families.

Last year two million kids took part in Change4Life, and judging from the amazing reaction from the kids at John’s old school, this year’s programme will be a great success. After all, who wouldn’t take the chance to Train Like A Jedi?

Sheila Mitchell

Director of marketing, Public Health England

At Public Health England, our mission is to protect and improve the nation's health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. One of the ways we do this is through working in partnerships to build coalitions for change. 

We understand that many organisations have a direct and trusted relationship with our target audiences, meaning they can reach them to help influence their behaviours to live more healthily, in ways we cannot. 

We formed an innovative partnership with Disney UK and our flagship programme for families, Change4Life, in 2014 to promote physical activity.

This partnership uses the magic and inspiration of Disney, to build activity into the daily lives of families around the country, by, crucially, having fun. Working with Disney and drawing upon children’s favourite characters and stories helps put us in unique position to help inspire children to lead healthier lives.

So far, the partnership has resulted in children doing an extra 300 million minutes of physical activity and this year our ambition is even greater as we look to innovate and evolve to keep pace with the changing needs and demands from the audiences we are speaking to.

This year, we worked with Disney to build Star Wars into the Change4Life campaign to get as many children as possible moving with our recently launched Train Like A Jedi programme.

The marketing programme is as extensive as ever and is being promoted via digital advertising, PR activity, an email programme and a social media campaign, as well as regional roadshows giving families the chance to Train Like A Jedi together and curriculum-linked teacher resources in schools.

I’m thrilled to see this next evolution of a partnership that continues to raise the bar for how public sector and commercial organisations can work together to achieve shared and complementary goals, for the good of us all. 

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