Former Public Health England marketing chief joins Freuds

Sheila Mitchell
Sheila Mitchell

The PR agency has appointed Sheila Mitchell CBE as a senior advisor to its health and behaviour change unit.

Mitchell will provide high-level strategic counsel to Freuds’ private sector health clients in the part-time role.

Mitchell, who announced her intention to leave PHE last August, has been a driving force in public health comms and campaigns for two decades.

At PHE – a long-standing client of Freuds as well as creative agency M&C Saatchi – Mitchell presided over some of the most influential public health campaigns of the past decade, covering myriad health issues.

These included the annual smoking cessation campaign Stoptober, healthy living campaign Change4Life, and mental-health campaign ‘Every mind matters’.

Having celebrated its 10th year in 2019, Change4Life is one of the best-known public health campaign brands of recent years. The Stoptober campaign, which has run for a similar length of time, is thought to have been responsible for two million people quitting the habit.

Mitchell has strong views on reducing health inequalities and ensuring that campaigns reach segments of the population that marketers sometimes ignore: people with less money to spend and lower levels of education.

When she announced her intention to leave PHE in the autumn, the body's chief executive, Duncan Selbie, described Mitchell’s contribution to public health as “immeasurable”.

She was made a CBE for services to public health in the Queen's New Year's honours in 2019.

Before PHE, Mitchell was marketing director at the Department of Health.

Freuds said she is widely credited as the architect of innovation in government comms and led the behaviour-change agenda in health.

Mitchell established a blueprint for partnership marketing, in strategic alliances with Boots, Amazon and Disney, among others.

She was also quick to apply new technology to health campaigns, such as the first chatbot, for Stoptober, and the first use of augmented reality, in the Change4Life Food Scanner app.

Freuds said it would announce the names of more advisors in due course.

Commenting on Mitchell’s appointment, Julia Bainbridge, partner and head of Freuds’ health and behaviour change unit, said she was delighted to welcome her to the agency.

She added: “Sheila will be a crucial part of our 2021 growth plan and will provide senior counsel and strategy to bold and ambitious clients wanting to do more in the preventative health space. Never has there been a more timely moment for companies operating in the health and life sciences sector to be considering… their purpose and responsibilities.”

A version of this story originally appeared on PRWeek.

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