Mark Penn drafted in to mastermind Bupa brand rethink

Private health insurance provider Bupa has called in the heavyweight political pollster and Burson-Marsteller CEO Mark Penn as it begins a radical overhaul of its communications strategy.

Burson-Marsteller CEO: Mark Penn
Burson-Marsteller CEO: Mark Penn

Penn's research firm Penn Schoen & Berland (PSB) has been charged with researching stakeholder attitudes around three key healthcare areas in which Bupa is hoping to demonstrate 'brand leadership'.

Bupa has also enlisted Frank PR to build mainstream awareness for a new report that will examine how healthy UK workplaces are.

The activity marks the first major move made by Bupa communications chief Steve John since he departed Pepsico to become group corporate affairs director at the insurance company earlier this year.

'I was brought in to do two things: raise profile and demonstrate healthcare leadership,' said John.

He pointed out that Bupa's 60-year healthcare heritage offered a significant point of differentiation with rival insurance companies.

PSB will focus on ageing, wellbeing and chronic disease management. 'What we want them to do is find out where we can take a position in those three broad areas,' said John. 'It's quite important for us because this is what we will hang our hat on for the next couple of years.'

The PSB research will begin in the UK under the supervision of PSB Europe MD Joel Levy, before broadening out to other countries.

The workplace report will launch in early 2010, with the campaign aiming to position Bupa as a progressive campaigner for a healthier UK workforce.

Specific comms campaigns based on the research insights are expected to start rolling out in mid-2010.

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