DIRECT: PROFILE, ELAINE GREENWOOD - Bupa’s marketer drives DM operation/Elaine Greenwood is planning to breathe life back into the private healthcare giant

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.

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

Bupa account.’

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

increasing profits.

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

of life.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus