By ROBERT DWEK, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 26 March 1999 12:00AM
Most working women find their jobs tough, exhausting and
unrewarding - and 77 per cent would quit if they could. This uplifting
statistic comes courtesy of a survey, partly funded by Bupa.
Judging by her enthusiasm, Elaine Greenwood, Bupa’s membership marketing
director, is a notable exception to this rule. With a passion for direct
marketing that is only rivalled by her passion for horseriding,
Greenwood is champing at the bit to keep Bupa a front-runner in the
burgeoning private healthcare market.
Recruited alongside a number of other key marketing personnel at the end
of last year, this highly experienced fmcg marketer has responsibility
for Bupa’s core products, including private medical insurance, cashplans
and critical illness cover.
Bupa is still the UK’s biggest private medical insurance company with
about 40 per cent of the market. But its dominance has been on the wane
for more than a decade, down from about 60 per cent thanks to increased
competition from the likes of PPP (recently acquired by Guardian Royal
Exchange) and a sharp drop-off in the number of NHS refugees.
The need for a new and clearer positioning prompted a senior management
reshuffle last year and the appointment of a new marketing director, Pat
Stafford. She decided to bring control of strategy and branding
in-house, which led to the appointment of people like Greenwood, as well
as a review of Bupa’s longstanding agency arrangements.
The Bupa account - above and below the line, as well as media buying -
had been centralised in Ogilvy & Mather for several years. A recent
rejig saw WCRS win above the line, MediaVest secure the media buying and
Barraclough Hall Woolston Gray pick up the below-the-line business.
It’s this latter agency with which Greenwood will be most involved. And
although she stresses the appointment was a collective decision, she’s
very happy about it. ’I was one of their first clients when I was
(associate director of buying) at Littlewoods in 1991. They’re a really
creative and motivated bunch and have hit the ground running with the
Her admiration is fulsomely returned by Elly Woolston, BHWG’s deputy
chairman. ’We find Elaine a joy to work with because she’s fair and very
clear about the direction she wants to go in. You can’t help feeling
inspired and energised by her approach. She’s very open about things,
not at all political and without any hidden agendas.’
This kind of comment is a far cry from ad industry gossip that Bupa was
in danger of becoming the nightmare client after its decision to part
company with O&M and to import so many new faces to its marketing
department. ’The last thing we want to be is the client from hell,’
Greenwood says, adding that Bupa is investing more in marketing than it
has done in a long time.
The driving force for all this change is Bupa’s new chief executive, Val
Gooding, who believes ’strongly in the importance of being
customer-focused and establishing a genuine dialogue with
The same could be said of Greenwood. Having spent ten years in the home
shopping industry, she now enthuses: ’It’s incredible what you can do
with a well-designed direct marketing strategy.’
Her enthusiasm will be sorely tested as Bupa attempts to build its brand
through a predominantly below-the-line strategy. Figures quoted suggest
that BHWG will have about pounds 10 million to play with, compared to
just pounds 4.5 million for WCRS.
This is quite a change of tack when you consider how important Bupa’s
advertising campaigns have been to its positioning.
The current ’you’re amazing’ creative, designed by O&M, has won many
plaudits for the power and simplicity of its message.
But Greenwood is unfazed by the task ahead, claiming there is ’a logic
to brand building’ rather than affecting an above-the-line mystique. She
considers herself equally adept on both sides of the line and argues
that any marketer worth her salt ’will have to be multi-skilled to be
successful in the future’.
And here she gets passionate, making a bold prediction that the
much-talked about mass-customisation ’will be succeeded by true
personalisation within ten years’.
Greenwood’s wide marketing experience must have been quite a reassurance
to Bupa. Before joining Grattan and Littlewoods, she worked for the
confectionery company, Callard & Bowser, Cadbury Schweppes and Gallaher.
The Cadbury’s stint, in the mid-80s, encompassed brands such as Flake
and Hartley’s Jam. Greenwood still gets a kick out of one of her pet
projects - the redesign and relaunch of Chivers pure fruit marmalade,
which remains unchanged some 15 years later.
Another highlight in Greenwood’s career was helping Grattan step up from
number four to three in the home shopping market, while at the same time
Now a keen one-day eventer, she gets ’a real adrenalin rush’ from this
dangerous activity. Bupa’s insurance boffins might not approve of her
out-of-hours thrill-seeking, but if this same temperament can produce
the goods at work, Greenwood’s employer can look forward to a new lease
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk