Integrated Marketing Communication Campaign For Cancer Research UK

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Integrated Marketing Communication Campaign For Cancer Research UK


As charities in the United Kingdom continue to appreciate the value of the Internet in general and social networking (Twitter, YouTube and Facebook) in specific, they correspondingly leverage the alternative marketing practices, which are proven to be more efficient and cost-effective in reaching the target audience unlike traditional advertising channels. In other words, charities are increasingly integrating numerous communication tools in their marketing campaigns. One of the challenging issues in persuading people to donate their money to charity is to make an advertisement that is able to connect with the target audience and to ensure its uniqueness or distinctiveness from other marketing campaigns within the same platform. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is develop an integrated marketing campaign for Cancer Research UK. A detailed review of literature on integrated marketing communications indicates that various entities in private, public and not for profit sectors are increasingly adopting online marketing tools to improve their communications and advertising. In an effort to synchronize with market trends, but to remain competitive and distinctively appealing, Cancer Research UK should exploit the benefits of social networking videos.

Keywords: Charities, Cancer Research UK, Integrated marketing communication (IMC), social marketing

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In the present digitized world, marketers must acknowledge the fact that advertising does not reach marketing communication goals in seclusion of other tools of marketing communications (Yeshin 2012). Despite the fact that advertising is still a leading tool of marketing communications mix, its position is increasingly being challenged by other alternative forms of communication. More frequently, marketing communication campaigns constitute a number of marketing elements, including direct marketing, sales promotion, public relations and advertising (Drummond, Ensor & Ashford 2010). On the contrary, currently the main alternative communication tool is the viral nature of videos shared in social media platforms. Moreover, the proposed integrated marketing communications model has a chance to succeed, since the proliferation of internet-enabled handheld devices has significantly improved the use of social networking sites in marketing. In the same context, advancement in video technologies has made it possible to compress, send and share videos over the social media. It follows that companies targeting an audience, which appreciates the convenience of these devices, should include social network videos in their marketing communications mix. In fact, every piece of information has to be transformed into video in order to improve visibility and awareness. Cancer Research UK is an apt example of UK charities that needs an IMC plan to achieve its objectives in the digitized world, which is increasingly characterized by the video content instead of the text. In this respect, the purpose of this paper is to develop a new integrated marketing communications campaign for Cancer Research UK.

Background and Competitive Position of Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) is a United Kingdom-based charity that focuses on cancer research and awareness (Cancer Research UK 2015). As of 2015, the charity had over 3,000 workers and more than 40,000 volunteers. CRUK’s success is partly attributed to the 2002 merger that has led to its formation. The merger bought together the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and the Cancer Research Campaign (Cancer Research UK 2015). Successful branding of a charity and its positioning are critical to its success. The logic behind the accomplishments is that a charity can be optimally supported if people know it and can identify themselves with its brand. Whether the support is presented in a form of volunteering, monetary donations or any other type of contact with the charity, it will only be realized if people see a clear target towards which they can direct their energy and money. Since Cancer Research UK acknowledges these facts, it has continued to position itself as a leader in the fight against cancer. In this context, CRUK exploits its technological innovation capabilities and branding prowess to improve the connection between the charity and its supporters. In addition, the charity supports cancer research in order to help the current and future generations. The supported research includes people of all ages, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation (Cancer Research UK 2015). For this reason, the charity is identifiable with an array of social groups, making it distinctive and unique. In fact, one of the tactical manifestation of its competitiveness in brand awareness is the 2015 successful YouTube fundraising campaign, dubbed “Stand Up To Cancer YouTube Party.” As in the commercial environment, Cancer Research UK has made its brand both flexible enough to include all of its core needs and powerful enough to connect with its target audience. Table 1 summaries the tactical and strategic characteristics of CRUK’s integrated marketing communications.

Table 1

Tactical and Strategic characteristics of Cancer Research UK’s Integrated Marketing Communications



·         Clarity in campaign messages

·         Consistency in campaigns

·         Effective coordination of campaigns

·         Charity and stakeholder connectivity

·         Strategic consistency

·         Commitment of resources for IMC

·         Cross-functional integration


Cancer Research UK is a valuable brand because it supports a number of bottom lines. Other than fundraising and educational campaigns, there are other bottom lines, considering its purpose and activities. In fact, besides being the biggest independent funder of cancer research in the UK and Europe, the charity generates most of its income. CRUK stands out as a leader in cancer research due to various aspects. For example, the charity has created and sustained one of the most cost-effective and efficient fundraising campaigns called Race-for-Life. Through the successful development of vital drugs used to fight various types of cancers across all ages, Cancer Research UK has had a significant positive impact on the global cancer survival rates.

Marketing Communications Objectives

Consistent with the proposed ICM model and the objectives of Cancer Research UK, the proposed campaign intends to promote an online fundraising drive for the charity. To achieve this goal, the following marketing objectives should be met

  • To develop an innovative comprehensive communication strategy for the “Stand Up To Cancer” campaign’
  • To raise the awareness on “Stand Up To Cancer” campaign;
  • To improve awareness on the efforts of Cancer Research UK in the fight against cancer
  • To attract new donors; and
  • To raise more funds aimed to support the ongoing and new researches on cancer.

Logically, the success of CRUK’s objective relies on the availability of financial resources. Given that research on cancer is a costly endeavour, fundraising is one of the most effective methods of ensuring that there are enough money to support the research and development. Therefore, the outlined objectives are in line with the objectives of the charity. Table 2 summaries marketing objectives and their corresponding marketing tools.

Table 2

Marketing Tools and Their Objectives

Marketing Tools



·         Target specific audience

·         Develop community

·         Advertise


·         Harness the power of social video to improve communication of CRUK on other websites


·         Raise conversations

·         Engage donors and volunteers

Target Audience

Indeed, financial resources are critical to the achievement CRUK’s objectives. In other words, money is pivotal in meeting the needs and desires of the target audience through the charity’s mission-oriented marketing efforts. One of the fundamental components of the charity’s marketing plan is reaching out for potential volunteers and donors. As for Cancer Research UK, its integrated marketing communications campaign should focus on youths and adults of both genders.

The proposed integrated marketing communications campaign targets people who reside in the United Kingdom, because the organization operates in England, Wales and Scotland (Cancer Research UK 2015). Similar to profit-oriented entities, charities can ensure that their marketing is effective by taking into account their audience. Therefore, they have to identify a specific target market to address their needs and desires. Arguably, market segmentation, which further divides the current and potential customers, is a powerful tool in the marketing mix of charities. In marketing terms, segments are groups of individuals with similar needs who are a part of the homogeneous market (Iacobucci 2014). By dividing the entire UK market into segments of individuals who are connected to the goals of the charity, Cancer Research UK can ensure that the target audience can be reached effectively. Given that the charity intends to support research on all types of cancer affecting people of all ages, such factors as income, age and previous giving record will be used as the foundations for the segmentation of the UK market. As for fundraising, CRUK will focus on prospective donors or contributors as its target audience. Therefore, any person above 18 years old and working is a possible donor of the organization. Additionally, companies are also a part of the targeted group.

Failing to segment the UK market might result in a generalized and low-quality marketing program, which is unable to meet the needs of the charity effectively. Segmentation and targeting will help the charity to meet requirements better, and raise and utilize resources more effectively (Iacobucci 2014). In fact, cost-efficiency is attained because the charity exploits the economies of scale while meeting its needs. In addition, cost-efficiency can be gained, because there are less or no duplications present in the marketing program, as the charity chooses the segment that is not addressed by other charities (Kotler et al. 2015). Homogeneity of the targeted group implies that Cancer Research UK can focus, improve its expertise and meet the marketing needs better. Furthermore, segmentation and targeting will enable CRUK to raise the needed resources effectively if its supporters appreciate the quality and effective utilization of services. Therefore, as a UK-based cancer charity, CRUK should remain regional, retain its research focus, and support the research on all types of cancers among all ages and genders.

Literature Review

Integrated Marketing Communications

Marketing communications play a critical role in building and sustaining stakeholder relationships. Integrated marketing communications campaigns apply consistent brand messaging across traditional and non-traditional marketing channels, while using various promotional methods to reinforce the objectives of an entity’s marketing campaign (Neel et al. 2015). Adopting an integrated marketing communications campaign creates a comprehensive marketing strategy that delivers numerous benefits to both an entity and its audience. Not only will a charity boost its fundraising, but also it will benefit from improved brand loyalty and increased competitive advantage. Employing an assortment of marketing communications tools like social networks, mobile apps, SMS and direct mail to send out consistently branded messages that a charity’s audience can related to in various formats is an pivotal part of creating an effective integrated campaign (Yeshin 2012). Some of the benefits of integrated marketing campaign include elimination of confusion, development of trust, synergy, one-to-one communications, cost-effectiveness and increased efficiency (Kitchen & Burgmann. 2010). While IMC presents numerous advantages, it faces several barriers, including skills and resource/time issues; cultural issues; and power, control and coordination issues (Neel et al. 2015; Yeshin 2012). Similar to companies, charities have an array of objectives for their marketing communications campaigns: informing, persuading and inducing action (Shimp & Andrews 2013). For instance, Cancer Research UK intends to inform the public about their efforts to support cancer research with an aim of reducing cancer-related mortalities.

From the above definitions, one of the dominant themes is that the communication efforts in IMC are directed at the target audience with an aim to affect their behaviour (Kitchen & Burgmann. 2010). The other theme is that an outside-in approach is vital. That is, an entity should first start with the audience when developing an integrated communications plan. This approach demands a comprehensive market research to analyse and use the collected information to formulate a complete communications strategy. Successful implementation of strategies depends on the effectiveness of the strategy analysis and formulation process of the strategic management process (Hotchkiss 2013; Pearce & Robinson 2014). As stressed by Kitchen and Burgmann (2010), a well-established connection between an entity and customer is essential. Similar to Cancer Research UK, coordination between marketing communications tools is required to create a competitive brand. The other significant aspect of IMC is that all communication activities should be linked with contact points incorporated into the strategy in order to deliver the messages correctly.

Given that the public chooses certain brands, attends particular events and visits specific websites, it is important to analyse and understand these behaviours in order to make strategic decisions regarding which marketing communications tools to use (Daymon & Holloway 2010). In fact, these objectives can be realized by using a variety of marketing communications tools, including point-of-purchase displays, TV and mobile advertising, social media (YouTube, Facebook and Twitter), publicity releases and direct mail literature, etc. (Kitchen & Burgmann. 2010; Shimp & Andrews 2013). In line with this reasoning, the following subsections review some of the cost-effective and efficient marketing communications tools for charities.

Marketing Communication Tools

Word-of-mouth is a viable marketing strategy for charities. Volunteers and donors’ decisions are highly influenced by the judgements and opinions of others (Cheema & Kaikati 2010). In fact, peer-to-peer communications are a highly reliable and valid source of information. As public, private and non-profit entities continue to embrace the benefits of digitization, they are compelled to adopt cautiously holistic marketing strategies that can enable them to sustain their strategic and competitive advantages, and maintain their distinctive positions in their respective market sectors (Taylor 2010). One of the areas relevant to charities that have or are planning to shift their marketing activities online is innovative social media marketing. In fact, even non-profit organizations have to implement social media marketing trends appropriately to ensure that they are in accord with the growing competition and co-create customer value (Brei et al. 2011; Prahalad & Ramaswamy 2013). Observably the main differences between the physical marketplace and online market are the quality and quantity of information available for the targeted audience (Kotler et al. 2015). This sharp difference requires an entity during the shift in marketing strategy to adapt a winning persuasion tactic. Unquestionably, successful online entities conduct effective market researches by analysing the tremendous volume of digital footprints to gain competitive advantages. Search engine optimization (SEO) tools are used to improve traffic and referrals. Viral online marketing platforms including Twitter and Facebook are also effective in supplementing traditional marketing communications tools (Ho & Dempsey 2010; McNealy 2010).

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Creative Strategy

Creative Idea: Stand UP To Cancer Facebook Party

To exploit the popularity of videos and the increasing ability to stream them on Facebook, this research proposes for the next Stand Up To Cancer YouTube Party to integrate the Facebook’s livestreaming option. This idea is grounded on the success of the 2015 Stand Up To Cancer YouTube Party that has been a 12-hour online fundraising campaign. As it stands, every piece of information can be converted into a video and propagated over a platform that is easily accessible and viral in its nature (Ho & Dempsey 2010). The idea is to transmit more information efficiently and effectively. The goal of this idea is to make a social video count for Creative Research UK. Consistent with Shimp and Andrews (2013), the intended fundraising campaign should be advertised across multiple platforms, while ensuring consistency and coherence. One of the most effective approaches is to come up with a short video advertisement that can be played on social networking sites, as well as the traditional social media, including TV and radio. The content of the video is a message conveying that the planned fundraising event will be streamed not only on You Tube, but also through Facebook. With that in mind, plans must be put in place for Cancer Research UK to collaborate with Facebook and YouTube in making the event successful.

Even though livestreaming video comes with its challenges, it is evident that social video outperforms static content (McNealy 2010). In addition, social video stands out over news feeds, which are being increasingly saturated. The idea is to create a campaign that is not only effective, but also cost-efficient, because Cancer Research UK is a non-profit organization for which a return on investment is crucial. Alongside the intended combined livestream fundraising on Facebook and YouTube, Cancer Research UK should also post personalized videos on its Twitter account. The charity can send personalized videos to volunteers and participants of its previous marketing campaigns. In this respect, the charity will not only be maintaining loyalty of its current customers, but also increasing referrals of the target market. However, before starting the online fundraising campaign, people who use the hashtag, “standuptocancerUK” should be sent a copy of the charity’s TV campaign that appreciates and highlights their continued support. During and after the livestream, participants should receive graphic messages on their Twitter accounts indicating the funds raised. Personalized videos would help the charity improve connections with volunteers and donors. Besides establishing personal connections and improving awareness, these personalized social videos should be designed to remind supporters to deliver their contributions, as well as prompting their friends and followers to contribute.

One of the challenges that must be addressed to ensure the success of the planned fundraising is to get the audience to make a connection between the content of the videos and CRUK. The perceived intrusiveness in the realm of digital advertising can make viral cancer-related videos a touchy subject (Truong & Simmons 2011); hence, it can be confusing, because some of the audience are not used to getting cancer-related information through their Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts, both private and public messages/posts. To address this challenge, the content of the videos must be clear from the onset and be coherent with the charity’s objectives. Therefore, the campaign will balance the CRUK’s information on cancer.

Marketing Communication Tools

As highlighted in the description of the creative strategy, the key marketing tool used is social media marketing, which involves the use of social networking sites (McNealy 2010). Twitter will mainly be used to advertise the campaign due to its viral nature. Facebook and YouTube will be used to stream the fundraising event. It is important to point out that both Facebook and YouTube will also be utilized to raise awareness prior to the event. To ensure consistency, all official messages regarding the fundraising will come from the centralized communications team, that is, the official Cancer Research UK Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels. By its very nature, social media is pervasive and has the ability to connect a large number of people instantaneously and virally (Ho & Dempsey 2010; Hotchkiss 2013). Besides social media marketing, the campaign will make use of the market researches bases on business intelligence (BI) and google analytics. The collected information is intended to inform choices pertaining to communication channels and targeted groups.

Proposed Model Components and Evaluation Process

The proposed integrated social-media marketing communications model will incorporate SEO, events-based marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, social media and viral marketing. The word-of-mouth marketing strategy will form the baseline of the model. All components reinforce each other in an integrated manner to ensure that CRUK’s messages are communicated to the public, and that volunteers and donors wish to pass the charity’s message to others. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are the selected social media channels through which all the charity’s marketing communications will be linked into a single easily integrated and accessible avenue. The pervasive nature of social media represents the core of the model. To improve confidence in social media, the channels must be advertised at Cancer Research UK’s main Website. SEO and events-based marketing represent the inputs that support the hub of the model (social media). Events-based marketing will be used to solidify one-to-one relationships with volunteers and donors. SEO supports the social media hub by exposing potential donors and volunteers to CRUK’s team. Events can be documented through photos and video, which can then be spread through the social media platforms. Moreover, viral marketing will represent the output of the social media hub. With the help of web-based viral marketing as supported by the social media hub, word-of-mouth buzz about Cancer Research UK’s activities can be generated rapidly. Table 3 summaries the components of the proposed model and their corresponding evaluation criteria.

Table 3

 ICM Model Components and Evaluation Criteria

Marketing Tool/Model Component

Evolution Metrics

Search Engine

·         Referrals

·         Traffic

·         Link popularity and website ranking

Viral Marketing

·         URL referrals

·         Content download

·         Number of pass-forwards, comments and embed

·         Click-through rate and conversions




·         Social mentions

·         Repeat visits

·         Share of voice

·         Web traffic

·         Social connectivity among volunteers and donors

·         Reviews and recommendations

·         Time spent on site

·         Volume of followers



As the preceding discussion illustrates, integrated marketing communications is a vital aspect of a charity’s overall marketing strategy and the key determinant of its success or failure. Cancer Research UK should use various marketing communications tools to promote its objectives and achieve both financial and non-financial goals. The integrated marketing communications campaign will feature video content on YouTube and Facebook. From a marketing perspective, if the proposed integrated marketing communication is used effectively, Cancer Research UK will promote and enable its activities through various platforms. In line with the success of the charity’s previous campaigns, the proposed strategy must encompass and meet all the CRUK’s core needs.