Prevalence and development of health campaigns which use acronyms: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

Information relating to the prevalence and development of health campaigns that use acronyms such as FACTS and FAST with a specific focus on the following:

1. Why was an acronym chosen over a slogan for the FACTS campaign?

2. How much did the Scottish Government dedicate to FAST (Stroke campaign) or was it solely the Westminster government that funded it?

3. Who, be it health psychologists or chief medical officers, contribute to the development of these acronyms? and

4. How have you (or do you plan to) measure the success of the FACTS campaign?


1. As Scotland began to emerge from lockdown in May 2020, compliance with protection behaviours (like hand washing and 2 metre distancing) became vital to keep the virus under control. During lockdown, the Scottish Government had been tackling these actions individually in dedicated ads but it became clear that this was an ongoing requirement and we had to find a way of helping people remember the key actions and embed them in their lives.

The requirement was to embed 5 key behaviours so this was an ambitious and complex ask of the public, and it was felt that some type of mnemonic to help make our protection actions more memorable, and therefore more likely to be embedded in people’s lives would be helpful. Qualitative research was then used to explore a number of concepts that were developed to make the protection behaviours more memorable and the clear recommendation was to proceed with ‘FACTS’. Crucially, this tested well as a mental shortcut.

2. The act FAST campaign you refer to is a Public Health England campaign and therefore not something the Scottish government contributed to.

3. In this instance, the development of FACTS and the acronym was driven by Strategy and Insight and Marketing officials working with our Creative agency, alongside clinicians to ensure accuracy.

4. Scottish government marketing campaigns are generally measured through digital metrics, media reach and quantitative evaluation research. Some evaluation of the FACTS campaign can be found in Annex B of the following document: Public attitudes to Coronavirus: November update - (

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