Martin George, Managing Director, Group Development, Bupa

Martin joined Bupa in 2008 and became Managing Director of Group Development in 2010 and is responsible for Group Marketing, Group Corporate Affairs, Group Medical and the Bupa Cromwell Hospital

Tom Holmes

Founder & Chairman



Tom Holmes talks to Martin George, Managing Director, Group Development, Bupa.

Martin joined Bupa in 2008 and became Managing Director of Group Development in 2010 and is responsible for Group Marketing, Group Corporate Affairs, Group Medical and the Bupa Cromwell Hospital.

Before joining Bupa, Martin was Commercial Director for British Airways where his career involved marketing, commercial and general management responsibility. 

Previously, he was with Cadbury's, where he undertook a number of marketing roles.


Creativebrief: As Managing Director, Group Development at Bupa what are your key responsibilities?

Martin George: I am responsible for Marketing, Corporate Affairs (media relations, government affairs, internal communications and sustainability), Group Medical and the Bupa Cromwell Hospital. I also have responsibility for exploring development opportunities for Bupa outside our current businesses.

Creativebrief: Your career has spanned Cadbury, British Airways and Bupa, what have been the high points?

Martin George:  I have enjoyed lots of memorable experiences and had the pleasure of working with many truly gifted people.

Amongst my best memories would be my involvement in the initial launch of Cadbury’s Wispa  (yes, I am that old), the introduction of the truly flat beds in Club World and World Traveller Plus at British Airways, the development of the London Eye and flying on the last ever Concorde flight.

At Bupa I am proud to have been involved in the launch of the ‘Helping you find healthy’ UK communications campaign and introduction of the Bupa brand in Australia.

Creativebrief: What are the main challenges for your sector/category over the next 12 months?

Martin George: Like other businesses we are facing the economic challenges present in a number of our key markets in Europe and North America, which put pressure on the ability of individuals, companies and governments to fund healthcare.

Fortunately we are increasingly internationalising our business so our strength in growing and emerging markets will prove beneficial over the coming year.

Creativebrief: What work have you done recently that makes you the most proud?

Martin George: The migration from three well-known, long established brands in Australia and the introduction of Bupa has been extremely interesting and, though it is early days, I am proud of what the Australian team has achieved.

The early results of our new UK communications ‘ Helping you find healthy’ campaign are encouraging, our web presence has significantly improved and I am very proud of our sustainability work which is intended to improve the health of society at large.

Creativebrief: How do you see the media landscape unfolding in the next 5 years?

Martin George: More fragmentation, more options for clients, more focus from clients on results – all leading to an increase in the need to have media specialists (in-house or agency) who can help clients navigate an increasingly complex landscape.

Creativebrief: Do you prefer to use an ‘integrated’ agency approach or specialist agencies by individual discipline?

Martin George: Whilst there are clear benefits of the one-stop shop approach provided by an integrated agency, these only truly materialise if each agency is best in class.

Creativebrief: Do you prefer to use local agencies by market or international/global agencies?

Martin George: What matters is that an agency understands your market, your customers, and your business, demonstrating an ability to translate that insight into business solutions that create differentiation and add demonstrable value.

Creativebrief: When choosing agencies in the past were you ever influenced by awards?

Martin George: It is inevitable that award winning agencies gain a profile that encourages you to look at what is making them successful and whether they might be able to help your business be more successful.

Creativebrief: How often do you look at new agencies or review your roster?

Martin George: In general it’s good for both agencies and clients alike to undertake regular reviews, though there is no standard for the ideal frequency or trigger for a review.

Reviews are valuable for agencies and clients alike – reassuring clients that they have the best agencies and reassuring agencies that they are the best.

Creativebrief: How do you monitor and stay-in-touch with the agency market to ensure you work with the best?

Martin George: I try to keep a close eye on which clients are doing well commercially, which brands are growing in strength (and which are moving in the opposite direction), as well as work I admire – then work back from there.
It’s all about results after all.

Creativebrief: Which agencies do you think are ‘hot’ right now?

Martin George: Clients have never had more or better choice of top quality agencies.

Creativebrief: Do you/have you used intermediaries in the past? What are your observations?

Martin George: I have had very positive, though limited, experience of working with intermediaries. Their involvement can only be defined in relation to a specific situation a client finds themselves in; their needs, experience, resource and timescales are all key factors.

Creativebrief: Would you ever consider awarding an agency business without a pitch? What would they have to do / demonstrate?

Martin George: Is any one horse race really ever worth winning or staging?

Creativebrief: What are your top tips to agencies when presenting credentials to you?

Martin George: I am keen to see that an agency has taken the time to really understand our business, market and most importantly our customers.

We employ agencies because they have skills or views that we don’t have, so please focus on what we need not what we want.

Be challenging, assertive, passionate about our business.

Give us confidence that our business is safe in your hands, that together we can create value that we cannot create alone.

Show us that you are interested in helping us achieve our business goals and you can describe where that value would be created…..examples of where you have done this before always help.

Creativebrief: What was the most impressive agency presentation you have ever seen?

Martin George: The presentation is the easy part…..delivering work that produces results is the tough bit!