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Case study: What we're made of

Communicating a simple premise: adequate hydration is essential for life

Published: 13 Jan 2020

What we're made of

Client: Fresenius Kabi

Agency: Page & Page

Campaign: What we're made of

Timescale: N/A

A quick look

Malnutrition and dehydration cost the NHS over £19.6 billion annually. Being hydrated doesn’t just affect your health, it also affects your decision- making capabilities. If we don’t drink enough water, it can lead to headaches, constipation, tiredness and more serious problems, such as urinary infections and kidney disease. Staying hydrated seems obvious but it is only when we realise how dependent our organs are on water that the penny drops.

This campaign has a simple premise: adequate hydration is essential for a healthy life. The cause is championed by speech and language therapists (SaLTs) and dietitians working in hospitals, care homes and in the community. We invited our four specific target audiences (payers, HCPs, specialists, patients/carers) to help address a UK-wide problem. We also aimed to improve compliance with a practical volunteer support programme. This empathetic approach has provided a halo effect for Fresenius Kabi’s reputation, as well as improving Thick & Easy Clear sales.


It is estimated that 8% of the country lives with dysphagia – a condition that describes any difficulty or pain in eating, drinking or swallowing. This could be a side effect of a condition such as stroke, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, learning disability, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, head and neck injury or cancer. Dysphagia patients are particularly at risk of becoming dehydrated.

We discovered through a number of workshops that SaLTs’ and dietitians’ preferences for thickener products was not being taken into account. There is little distinction between products but a big difference in the quality of the support and education provided. Changing a thickener requires a huge amount of effort for a hospital or care home, and even if an HCP team agrees that it would like to switch, the logistical upheaval is often a barrier to change.


Having held a number of focus groups, we identified that while current marketing and messaging provided sympathy, it lacked empathy for key stakeholders.

The What we’re made of campaign is based on the simple premise that 60% of our bodies is made of water. The messaging focused on the issue of dehydration and how we all have a role to play in combating the problem. We are effectively made of water and the consequences of neglecting our hydration needs are severe.

This approach was dramatically different from the competition – the focus was on educating payers, patients and the public beyond the product benefits to get behind a cause. What we’re made of concentrates on the importance of hydration, particularly for people with dysphagia as their desire to drink diminishes. We created individually targeted communications for each of our target audiences. Creatively, we pushed the brand guidelines, photographing models partially submerged in water, illustrating the benefits of hydration beyond drinking a glass of thickened water.

In addition we initiated an awareness campaign to raise the profile of hydration in the healthcare system, underlining its importance and providing much- needed support to SaLTs and dietitians in their roles. By communicating how reliant our major organs are on water, we provided a compelling reason for both patients and non-patients to drink more. The awareness campaign uses detailed images of glass organs filled with the appropriate amount of water.


What we’re made of acknowledges and values the opinions and concerns of SaLTs and dietitians. There is now greater awareness across our target audiences that not all thickeners are equal and that Thick & Easy Clear can help in the fight against dehydration.

Client verdict

“The What we’re made of campaign cleverly communicates with all audiences at their level, with a unifying cause that pulls them together. Our factory business has increased by 100% and our market share has grown more in five months than in the last three years!” Lyndsay Woodhall, Senior Customer Marketing, Dysphagia Care Manager, Fresenius Kabi Ltd

“Thank you for all of your help in the implementation of the change of thickening product at Derriford Hospital. The process went very smoothly, and I have heard very positive feedback, both about the training delivered by Fresenius Kabi on the wards and the new product.” Jenny Wood, SaLT

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