National Sickie Day

How our news story hit the headlines and generated £600,000 of coverage for our client Sky Travel.

The Client

Sky Travel comprises four individual channels including the core channel, Sky Travel Shop and two multiplex channels - Sky Travel Extra and Sky Travel + 1. The channels have a combined reach of over 10 million viewers and holiday sales have increased 400% since 2002. Sky Travel is available on Sky digital channel 139, NTL channel 931 and Freeview channel 11. Sky Travel is the fastest-growing TV travel service in the UK.


  • To create a news story to provide a talking point in the key new year holiday sales period
  • Achieve brand amplification for Sky Travel by creating a big noise across a wide range of media

The Idea

  • To establish which day is ‘National Sickie Day’ – the day most office workers would take a cheeky day off and ring in sick.
  • To use this hook to enable Sky Travel spokespeople to discuss the underlying causes behind ‘sickies’ – very often because people are stressed and need to take a holiday


  • Conducted a research survey to find newsworthy statistics – 4,000 respondents filled out the online questionnaire
  • Results analysis and press release drafted – “Monday 6 February is National Sickie Day”
  • Contacted HR gurus/ occupational psychologists who could act as spokespersons.
  • We engaged Professor Cary Cooper, a well-known and media friendly expert in workplace issues
  • We also drafted in Laurence Collins, an HR consultant who specialises in organisational stress and absenteeism
  • A news release leads with ‘National Sickie Day’ but also includes lots of other sickie-related statistics, such as how many days off respondents thought they could get away with and what they do while off ‘sick’
  • Inclusion of quotes from Professor Cary Cooper and Barbara Gibbon from Sky Travel on the reasons why people take a ‘sickie’
  • News release sold in to tabloids, broadsheets and broadcast media.


  • All national newspapers covered the story including front page of the Daily Telegraph and sizeable pieces in Daily Mail, The Guardian and Daily Record
  • As well as news stories, National Sickie Day also featured in later comment pieces in The Guardian, Daily Record, Daily Express and Evening Standard
  • The story ran on GMTV, This Morning, Tonight with Trevor MacDonald, BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme and BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat
  • Spokepersons were also interviewed on Sky News and ITV News
  • 23 radio interviews including BBC Radio 2, Capital Gold, BBC Asian Network and BBC Radio Scotland
  • Pick up across the globe including France, South Africa and India
  • A conservative estimate of at least £600,000 worth of advertising equivalent value.
  • R.O.I. = £120 for every £1 spent