Market Leader Interview - 5 minutes with...

Anthony Newman

Director of Brand, Marketing & Communications at Cancer Research UK

Anthony is Director of Brand, Marketing & Communications at Cancer Research UK.

He has been with Cancer Research UK since 2005 holding various Directorships from DM to CRM to Product Marketing. 

In 2006 Anthony received the 'Client Marketer of the Decade' award by Precision Marketing Response and was last year named in the Campaign Power 100.

creativebrief: As Director of brand, marketing and communications, what is your primary focus?

AN: This is tougher than it sounds. As the title suggests, I have a very broad remit, but overall my focus is to help Cancer Research UK to protect its income at over £500M per annum now, and grow it substantially over the next few years. Parts of my role are organisation wide, like brand, social media and PR, but parts are specifically focused on directly driving income – for example Race for Life generates over £50M income a year.

creativebrief: What is the biggest issue for your brand today and how are you addressing it?

AN: The number one thing I need the public to understand is that Cancer Research UK have made a huge difference to cancer outcomes for patients, and that to continue to do that we need their support. This isn’t easy when cancer incidence is increasing and research is rather ‘behind closed doors’. Further, research can be rather complex and a bit boring for most people. So, the creative strategy is to use EMOTION as a way to engage the public in broadcast channels. The ‘Cancer is happening right now’ brand campaign is working extremely well at delivering on emotion – we have 6 executions achieving Brainjuicer 5 star status, when no ads at all in the UK achieved that in 2015. We then use channels like Social Media, where we have room, to tell a deeper story about our research and the progress that’s being made.

creativebrief: Is there a broader initiative that you are driving for the brand outside of the day-to-day?

AN: The major thing I’m driving now is brand integration across all our products, campaigns and touchpoints. We’re having incredible success with the latest brand campaign ‘Cancer is happening right now’ so we need to maximise its impact by getting our very wide array of marcomms and touchpoints singing to it. This is harder than it might sound, as each touchpoint has its own tough targets that can be in tension with achieving brand KPIs – for example Race for Life advertising needs to drive over 500,000 entries, our shop chain POS needs to drive volunteering and stock donation, and health marketing needs to drive GP visits. Finding the sweet spot where a piece of marcomms can deliver on its primary purpose and simultaneously be recognisable as part of the brand advertising is challenging.

creativebrief: What attributes do you think are required for success for a CMO today?

AN: I think flexibility and agility are the key attributes now required beyond the stock attributes of things like creativity and critical thinking that have always been required . Marketing is changing probably faster now than it has since the 1950’s. Digital and social have been a revolution in the way people consume media – but how many brands have really unleashed that power? Too often old approaches have been pasted over new channels, where consumers behave in completely different ways. I don’t think at all there is one answer, the world of marcomms is changing on a daily basis and a CMO has to experiment with new opportunities whilst at the same time not being distracted by them.

creativebrief: What work are you most proud of over the course of your career?

AN: Most recently the ‘cancer is happening right now’ campaign with Anomaly, as the brand tracking results have been phenomenal. But also our Race for Life campaign ‘Cancer, we’re coming to get you’ as this truly broke the mould for marketing in the NFP sector. I was also very proud we got a Gold Cannes Lion for the ‘Being Here’ campaign, and I was named Precision Marketing’s ‘Marketer of the Decade’ in 2006.

creativebrief: Industry wide, what work has excited you most this year?

AN: There’s a zeitgeist at the moment that’s really exciting – Sport England’s 'This Girl Can', Always’ ‘Like a Girl’, and BodyForm’s campaigns are all amazing, and to some extent riding on the shoulders of Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty which I’ve found inspiring. In a very different sector, I think CHI’s current Argos work is brilliant – totally repositioning Argos as an exciting and relevant and even aspirational brand. The concept has such a strong creative core that it stretches beautifully across all the different executions.

creativebrief: You have spearheaded a customer-centric approach. Have you begun to see the results?

AN: There’s not much to say on this so far to be honest. Whilst this isn’t a new area for us, we are really just beginning to step up focus. For example we shifted from opt-out to opt-in marketing permissions at the end of April. So we haven’t yet been able to track what effect this is having – it’s a very long term strategy and like for like measurement will take at least a year in most product lines.

creativebrief: You have said you hire people and agencies with the right fit. Can you tell us more about that ‘fit’?

AN: Sometimes you just know the people that get you – the team, the brand, the cause. Agencies with the right fit for us show they understand how Cancer Research UK is a unique brand: in many ways we behave very commercially, insight driven and focused on the bottom line. But at the same time we’re not-for-profit and our customers have a deep emotional connection to the cause and the brand. In parallel with that, agencies need to get their head around the idea that in fundraising proposition is king – we’re not actually selling anything people need (like eg soap powder) so we’re not just raising awareness and pushing consideration of a brand amongst close competitors. We actually need to explain and sell a proposition - eg Race for Life is a 5k women only run. This might sound obvious, but at a planning and creative approach level you might be surprised how easily agencies are tripped up.

creativebrief: Do you prefer to use an ‘integrated’ or specialist agency approach?

AN: Hmmm – horses for courses really. It depends on the capabilities and resources of the agency in question and the idea itself. For example with the Right Now campaign Social Media is at the heart of the idea, so it wouldn’t make sense to hive off social to another agency. As a generalisation though, I tend to find that I need a specialist agency for digital marketing – I work with Nonsense a lot who do a brilliant job of running with a concept from a ‘lead’ agency and making it work in digital channels.

creativebrief: How do you stay in-touch with the industry’s best agencies and their work?

AN: My main way is to consume media! But IPA effectiveness studies and the like are really helpful.

creativebrief: What’s your attitude to the ‘traditional’ pitch? Is there a better way?

AN: I guess that rather depends on what is meant by ‘traditional’. I’ve been around the houses on this one a bit, from appointing an agency based on its thinking and creative track record and then working together to build a creative brief (eg when I appointed Ogilvy which delivered the award winning ‘Being Here’ campaign), through to a very tight creative brief where I was actually buying the specific idea rather than the agency (eg when I appointed Mother to deliver a new Race for Life campaign in 2013). With Mother, it turned out that we not only bought a brilliant idea, but struck on an amazing collaborative agency relationship too – they’re a really special bunch of people. 
The pitch that led to the Right Now campaign with anomaly was pretty full on – as well as the usual chemistry sessions etc it included a whole half day immersion event for the 4 short listed agencies, where they got to meet scientists and stakeholders like legacy and health marketing. The process was described by two of the agencies as the best pitch process they’d ever had.

About the author

Ben Somerset-How, Client Director

Ben heads-up the brand focused business development team which sees him dedicate time to engaging both new and existing clients of Creativebrief. He is also the driving force behind our Market Leader Interview series and regularly guest-lectures at a variety of university marketing & management courses.

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