Kidneys, Kylie and effects

July 25, 2007 at 4:21 pm 1 comment

This month, the Dutch authorities reported that people registering as organ donors had tripled compared to previous months. What caused this sudden jump in registrations – a fantastic awareness programme?

In fact, they trace the increase to the now infamous “Dutch TV Kidney Hoax“, a reality TV show where real patients in need of a kidney “competed” for one.

From the communications evaluation point of view, it is an interesting example of how a communications activity can bring about a rapid change in behaviour (in this case donor registration) and perhaps one that was not intended.

In evaluating our own communication activities, we should try and identify other factors that could have influenced the change being seen – in the kidney TV hoax it was obvious but it will not be for many of the more day-to-day communication activities that we run.

Which reminds me of another example – in August 2005, the number of appointments made for manograms (to detect breast cancer) jumped by 101% in Australia. Was this the result of a successful communications campaign? No, in fact that month, pop singer and fellow Melburnian Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer resulting in mass media coverage about the issue which I’ve written about previously.

The identification of other possible explanations for changes being observed (rather than just saying “look our communications campaign worked”) is important in maintaining a credible and balanced approach to evaluation.


Entry filed under: Campaign evaluation, Communication evaluation, Evaluation methodology, PR evaluation.

Measuring online behaviour – statistics to indicators Output or outcome?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Cause and effect - goal? « intelligent measurement  |  October 23, 2007 at 7:39 am

    […] public event and a particular change in behaviour as I’ve written about before: the effect of a reality TV program on the number of people willing to donate an organ and the effect of Kylie Minogue’s treatment for breast cancer on the number of young women […]


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