Cheryl Rosenthal

Senior Brand Comms Manager, Marketing & Customer Transformation, Bupa UK

Ben Somerset-How

Client Director Creativebrief


Cheryl Rosenthal

Creativebrief: How has your career path led you to marketing at Bupa?

Cheryl Rosenthal: Marketing internships at a comms agency during the uni holidays, and at Cancer Research UK upon graduating, confirmed my suspicion that marketing was for me. After completing an academic degree, I was keen to accelerate my business and marketing knowledge by gaining a place on a marketing graduate scheme. Bupa appealed massively to me due to its core values and inspiring purpose which is essentially all about helping people to get the most out of life – and I’d experienced first hand the benefits of great health insurance during my ballet days of ankle operations and fractured metatarsals! The grad scheme was a brilliant start to my career at Bupa, spanning roles in proposition development, digital acquisition and brand and I was lucky enough to work for our Global Business which meant spending time in Australia, Dubai and Singapore.

Creativebrief: Is it true you trained at the Central School of Ballet?

Cheryl Rosenthal: Yes, that’s right! I gained a scholarship to Central School of Ballet at age 16 where I completed my professional classical ballet training. It was an intense regime including practical training 6 days a week, combined with evening and weekend  A-Level classes – a great preparation for the work ethic and commitment demanded by the marketing and advertising world. I feel that that the discipline and resilience needed to succeed, together with the intense focus on the most minute detail, and the sheer passion of the dancers, choreographers and artistic directors for bringing their vision to life, were an inspiring and useful foundation for my future work within marketing, and specifically brand communications.

Creativebrief: Why did you choose a career in marketing?

Cheryl Rosenthal: Coming from a creative background and also loving the analytical side of my degree, I knew I wanted to work in a capacity that combines both of these aspects. I find people fascinating – the way that they think, feel and act, and why. I’ve always been excited by the crucial role marketing plays in building meaningful relationships between a brand and its consumers, connecting them with products and services that can enhance their lives or help others. It was hugely rewarding working for CRUK and I love the way in which brands and advertising have the power to effect positive social and behaviour change. Plus the pace and variety of the work means it’s always interesting and challenging.

Creativebrief: What have been the highlights of your year with the Marketing Academy?

Cheryl Rosenthal: There have been so many: the privileged access you get to an amazing array of mentors, coaches, industry experts and inspirational leaders, in addition to meeting an incredible group of humble and extremely talented fellow scholars; Penny Ferguson’s ‘The Living Leader’ course – a hard-hitting leadership programme that helps you to reflect deeply from both a personal and a professional perspective and reveals some pretty profound truths about life and the possibilities open to you depending on how you choose to view the world and your autonomy in it; and the way the scholarship year as a whole helps you to understand what it really means to be a great marketing leader.

Creativebrief: What do you think are the main challenges facing marketers today?

Cheryl Rosenthal: I think 3 of the biggest challenges facing marketers today include: breaking through the noise – it’s a fiercely competitive landscape in which consumers are inundated with content – good and bad – making it hugely challenging to stand out and engage attention; staying relevant and true to your brand within the context of the many significant social and political events happening in the world; and the proliferation of media channels and ever-expanding options within channels.

Creativebrief: You’ve recently been involved in the launch of a new brand platform for Bupa, including a campaign for pay as you go physio, can you tell us about that?

Cheryl Rosenthal: Yes, it’s been a really exciting time for me at Bupa as we launched our new ‘For Living’ brand positioning in January this year, with ‘pay as you go’ being a core part of the strategy. Research had confirmed that our key brand issue was not being perceived as relevant to consumers. So we needed to come up with an idea powerful and flexible enough to appeal to our core health insurance audience, but that could also help us to grow the market by introducing new audiences (young professionals and families) to our more accessible pay as you go products – a part of our business that consumers were unaware of.

Instead of focusing on comfort and reassurance at the time of illness, we shifted our focus to celebration and joy at the point of recovery. We explored the insight that when you recover from an illness, you experience increased joy in the day-to-day things you previously took for granted: playing with the kids, running a 10k or losing yourself in a moment of carefree dancing. It’s this ‘making the most of life’ feeling that is the essence of ‘For Living’ and which is expressed in our cancer care and PAYG creative work – inverting the health insurance norm and foregrounding the positive outcomes Bupa enables.

We launched For Living at a national level in Q1 with our ‘Dancing Lady’ cancer care creative, which has proven to be our most successful ad ever, exceeding commercial targets, driving key brand health measures, and winning multiple awards including a silver at Cannes. I remember sitting in the edit suite, unable to speak after viewing the ad for the first time – I was so moved! This was followed by our London-specific campaign which focused on building a connection with our younger audiences for whom PMI isn’t relevant, with a product that is more accessible – pay as you go Physio: cue our ‘Ice Bath’ and ‘Dad-o-saurus’ ads.

In addition to social video, we ran outdoor, PR and a media partnership with the Evening Standard, each channel playing a different role in helping to deconstruct the misconception that you can only access Bupa healthcare through being a health insurance customer. The campaign has done a great job of starting to increase awareness of the fact that you can simply walk into one of our high street health centres and pay as you go for treatment as and when you need it, and this is having a positive impact on brand perception and consideration.

Creativebrief: How do you keep up with the constant stream of innovation in marketing?

Cheryl Rosenthal: I try to attend industry events and seminars wherever I can; I’m fortunate enough to now be an alumni of the Marketing Academy which offers brilliant networking opportunities, and I read as much as I can – including articles that naturally appeal and those that don’t since this is how I sometimes stumble across something completely new and valuable.

Creativebrief: What campaigns have really stood out to you this year?

Cheryl Rosenthal: Airbnb’s ‘Don’t go there. Live there’ campaign stood out to me on a couple of levels. Firstly, the way it’s founded upon a really clear insight: Airbnb users don’t want to simply follow the tourist route but instead want to experience their desired destination through the lens of a local. Secondly, the way the creative proposition flows through into the user experience via product innovation in the form of updated app features which help travellers assimilate into the local culture and guidebooks that are written by locals and not tourists.

I was also impressed by Lucozade sport’s ‘Made to Move’ campaign ad starring Anthony Joshua since it powerfully communicates Lucozade’s intention to put its purpose of getting more people to exercise at the heart of its brand – a smart strategy which responds to growing consumer expectations that brands should be doing more to leverage their influence for public good. I believe Lucozade’s shift from communicating brand benefits to this more purposeful marketing will really pay off by keeping the brand current and relevant.

Creativebrief: Do you see yourself as a generalist or a specialist, does it matter?

Cheryl Rosenthal: The grad scheme provided a great foundation in terms of developing my general marketing knowledge since it spanned several different disciplines, and I then went on to gain a good deal of acquisition experience before specialising in brand comms. Whilst the latter is where I’ve more recently deepened my expertise, I continue to work very interdependently with the digital, acquisition, retention and proposition teams, as well as lots of functions outside of marketing and find this broader understanding hugely helpful in driving forward effective integrated campaigns.