The primary reason for such failings on part of advertisement agencies is the creativity factor. Commercial marketing campaigns are dependent on creative use of slogans, visuals, wordplay, etc, to catch the attention of the potential consumer. But, sustaining the same level of creativity is unreasonable. Coming up with creative advertisements that will always hold appeal for the target audience is highly improbable, due to the inherent nature of commercial products and services. On the other hand, social marketing efforts don’t depend on creativity as much. What is on focus in the latter is “information” that is being passed on, rather than “brand image” that is being created in commercial advertising (Fox, 1980). So, factuality, comprehension and lucidity are key factors in social marketing ventures, but the parameters of success in commercial marketing efforts are quite a different set. This is another strong argument in not adopting commercial advertisement rule of thumbs to social marketing efforts (Cobb, 2005).
Supplementary Channels of Marketing:
BUPA keeps an eye on its consumer base via its “Upbeat” customer magazine. It takes special journalistic proficiency and editorial experience for successfully running this magazine. Given the high costs involved with printing and publication of such magazines, the only sustainable model is one that is driven by advertisements in the magazine. But in the case of Upbeat, the advertisements are predominantly that of Bupa’s. Nevertheless, while the magazine claims to be an information tool, it is essentially a medium of advertisement. The large marketing budget of Bupa makes enough leeway for the sustained running of this magazine. A government enterprise on the other hand can only adopt a user-supported revenue generation model for similar social marketing oriented magazines (Andreasen, 2000). But, unfortunately, the scale and quality of production cannot match that of magazines like Upbeat. So, this is another crucial difference between the two marketing concepts. According to Robin Cobb,
“Your customers feel ill, or they are worried about their health, and they contact you. This is not the ideal occasion for seeking a deeper, more meaningful relationship with them, but subscribers to a health insurance organisation usually only wants to get in contact when they need medical treatment. BUPA resolves this by going out to its members with a quarterly glossy magazine – Upbeat by name and upbeat by nature. It is not so much about sickness as about good health. The magazine echoes BUPA’s “You’re Amazing” advertising proposition” (Cobb, 2005).
Scale of Operations:
Last year BUPA Health Services had launched its internal One Life program through Martiz Communications as the agency chosen for the market introduction of its new marketing campaign, ‘You’re amazing.’ BUPA had already spent close to 3 million pounds sterling for One Life which was conceived to instil brand values and help each of them find satisfaction with their jobs. This program, which is recognized as the company’s biggest investment in its employees, benefits nearly 10,500 of its workers. Such employee welfare programs on large scales like this are not compatible with tax-payer supported government run social marketing campaigns. For example,
“the firm has already invested around [pounds]50m in revamping its internal systems and environments, as well as upgrading its products. The internal programme, One Life through live events agency Maritz Communications, is the penultimate piece of the jigsaw before the launch of BUPA’s new advertising campaign, through incumbent agency Ogilvy & Mather (O&M). Details of the ads are still under wraps, but Bupa is rumoured to be dropping its ‘You are Fantastic’ ad line in favour of a concept set to “propel it into the 21st century”. The One Life event is part of an integrated customer orientation strategy, not only to fall in line with the ad campaign; but also to inform it” (Andreasen, 2000)
This initiative was expected to help each employee find more fulfilment at the workplace. This initiative is also expected to instil Bupa’s brand values more profoundly into the work culture than ever before and hence hand Bupa a “sustainable competitive advantage”. This will also act as the catalyst that the organization needs to propel it into the leadership position. One Life is the biggest people investment programme in Bupa’s history and certainly one of the grandest in the British health-care sector. But, to reiterate the stated thesis of this essay, such massive scales of operations are not sustainable in a taxpayer supported government run social marketing enterprise. Hence, it could be concluded that the nature of the differences between social marketing and commercial marketing pose the social marketing manager with some key questions and challenges.