Magazine article Marketing

Profile: In Good Heart - Betty McBride Director of Marketing and Communications, British Heart Foundation

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: In Good Heart - Betty McBride Director of Marketing and Communications, British Heart Foundation

Article excerpt

If Betty McBride does not discover the perfect anti-smoking campaign from the British Heart Foundation's latest advertising pitch, she can always ask her children for help.

McBride, the marketer behind the charity's recent shocking, but extremely successful, 'Give up before you clog up' fatty cigarette ads, was a self-confessed 'bike-shed smoker' until her offspring convinced her to quit. 'I woke up one morning to find a note tacked to the ceiling above my bed saying, 'I don't want you to die, mummy.' So I had to give up,' she recalls.

Even McBride, whose job it is to point out the statistical and medical reasons why people shouldn't smoke, isn't completely free of her old habit: 'Sometimes I still dream that I am smoking,' she admits. However, when it comes to helping smokers give up the habit, she takes her responsibility extremely seriously: 'We are dealing with people who are dealing with death.'

The fatty cigarette campaign, funded by the Department of Health and created by Euro RSCG London, was widely acclaimed. About 90% of smokers could recall the ads and the number of people attending stop-smoking clinics doubled - an impact that McBride says 'keeps me warm at night'.

Asked why the campaign was such a success, she points to the 'Pavlovian' response that smokers seem to develop once they have seen the advertising: 'Every time people light up, the image of dripping fat should come to mind.'

Despite its success, McBride has decided to review the charity's advertising and direct marketing account to find a fresh idea. 'As a charity using government money, we have a responsibility to do everything as well as possible,' she explains. 'This means getting the best campaign for our money. The pitch process worked for us before, and we need to maintain that creative standard and work out where we go next.'

Once the agency is decided, the next campaign will focus on the dangers of passive smoking, for which McBride is preparing the next battle in what she terms the 'war against addiction'. Her long-term objective is to 'denormalise' smoking and make it socially unacceptable. She is 'outraged' that non-smokers are forced to breathe in second-hand smoke on a daily basis.

'At the moment, if a person asks if they can smoke in a room and someone says, 'Yes, I do mind', this person is seen as boring and socially inept. …

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