Cancer Research UK readies shift in brand marketing strategy as it predicts NFC could replace bucket donations

Cancer Research UK is to overhaul its brand and marketing strategy to embed a direct response call to its audience via all its future communications.

The new strategy, which comes following the departure of brand and strategic marketing director Natasha Hill last month, will follow the “P&G start with the shelf process”, according to new director of brand, marketing and PR Anthony Newman.

He told The Drum that Cancer Research is hoping to build response “into the heart of creative”.

“I’m starting a process that’s a bit more like the P&G start with the shelf process, where you basically say, ‘this is all of the things a business does, and what brand campaigns do we need that are going to lever that?’, which is a bit different.

“[We will be] looking at all our brand and marketing activity as one and working out within those what, if anything, needs to be pure brand, what needs to be brand response and what needs to be direct response, so seeing it as a system rather than a silo,” he added.

While Cancer Research’s current brand strapline ‘Beat Cancer Sooner’ is just a year old, the charity will begin to roll out the new strategy as soon as the planning process is completed in around six months’ time.

The first iteration of this strategy, however, will launch on 2 March for the charity’s annual Race for Life Campaign and Newman revealed to The Drum that the “new wrapping” for the campaign will “sing response” from roll out.

“In our next campaign, which launches on 2 March, you’ll be able to see there that response is right at the heart of the brand proposition and that’s where I want our brand to shift to. So it’s not so much, ‘what’s the call to action at the end of it’, but it’s more, ‘does the campaign sing response right from the beginning?’”

The new campaign will feature the strapline Join the Pink Army in a bid to muster immediate action from the public.

Near Field Communications (NFC) and digital out-of-home (OOH) are two areas of marketing that Newman said Cancer Research is exploring more deeply and he predicted that NFC “could replace” cash donations via its bucket collections.

Recently the charity trialled a new donation drive, allowing people passing four of its UK stores to donate via contactless debit or credit cards. The scheme ended earlier this week and while Newman said it was too early to reveal engagement rates, he is confident Cancer Research will invest in NFC as consumers continue to adopt contactless technology.

“It’s a great way of engaging the public and that trend of digital outdoor and near-field contact coming together is really exciting for advertising as a whole but also for the [charity] sector,” he commented, before adding that NFC could allow Cancer Research to develop a better understating of its donators.

“A chunk of income for this organisation is very generously donated by people putting money in buckets, but we can’t create any type of relationship through that. NFC has the potential to create longer relationships. It doesn’t automatically, because the rules aren’t if someone pays by NFC you gather all of their data, but that kind of the technology in the future is going to allow us to do direct marketing in different ways that we’ve done in the past.”

A new digital OOH campaign is currently being planned for launch in the North of England which will focus on early diagnosis of cancer. AMV BBDO are working on the campaign.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.