The market-led organisation
The market-led organisation

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The market-led organisation

3.1 The NSPCC's 'FULL STOP' campaign

An example of a marketing communications campaign is given below. This National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Childred (NSPCC) campaign was named a ‘Campaign of the Year’ in the CIM&Sol;Marketing Week's 1999 marketing effectiveness awards.

Example 3 NSPCC's 'FULL STOP' campaign

The charities market is highly competitive, with a large number of organisations trying to get their message across on a limited budget.

Just prior to the launch of the NSPCC's FULL STOP campaign in March 1999, the annual Comic Relief Appeal took place. This was heavily televised for a two-week period and intensified the competition between charities to raise public awareness and gain support for their cause. Despite this, the NSPCC's campaign excelled its target figure for new supporters by 70%.

‘Together we can end cruelty to children’ was the unique selling point (USP) of the three-week FULL STOP campaign launched by the NSPCC in early spring 1999. The charity believes that it was the biggest integrated campaign ever launched by the voluntary sector – and probably bigger than any commercial organisation had ever undertaken in such a concentrated time scale.

The campaign's objectives were four-fold:

  • to raise awareness of the problem of cruelty to children

  • to communicate that the NSPCC had launched a campaign to end the problem

  • to generate support, and involvement in, the campaign

  • to create huge PR and media coverage.

The launch of FULL STOP was held in London, hosted by Cilla Black, and attended by Tony Blair, HRH Duke of York (Chairman of the appeal), Baby Spice and a number of key business leaders. Throughout the campaign, on-going support from celebrities, such as Madonna and Ewan McGregor, played a key part in raising public awareness of the cause.

‘Increasing awareness was critical because a campaign like this was only ever going to succeed on the basis of mass support and involvement from individuals and organisations throughout the UK,’ explained Marion Rose, the charity's Head of Marketing. What we wanted to achieve was partnership. The NSPCC was leading the initiative, but we wanted to encourage everyone to participate in the campaign.’

‘The timing was also significant. The NSPCC had been in business for nearly 100 years – the end of the century was the ideal time to look at what had been achieved and create a vision for the future.’

The key involvement device used in the campaign – asking the public to sign a pledge promising to do something to help end cruelty to children – proved highly effective. A door drop of 23 million items reached every home in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, while a further mailing reached one million existing donors and 1.5 million leaflets were distributed face-to-face.

TV advertising ran on terrestrial and satellite channels, supported by press advertising in national newspapers and ethnic press. There were also a total of 8,242 poster sites used throughout the country.

The advertisements picked up on this theme, all featuring a number of children's icons – including Rupert the Bear, a teddy bear and Action Man – covering their eyes as a situation of abuse could be heard going on in the background. Viewers were left to infer cruelty from what they saw or heard – a powerful, but not explicit approach. One advertisement depicted a teenager's bedroom. A Rupert the Bear mug on the bedside table carried the words ‘One word of this to anyone and you're dead’.

A number of milestone events were arranged during the campaign period to keep its momentum going. These included a ‘Call to Action’ weekend, when campaigners went around the country setting up stalls in 1,500 shopping centres and public areas and encouraging people to sign the pledge.

‘We did have the odd qualm about the possibility of getting a negative reaction to the campaign because the advertising was very strong,’ says Marion Rose. ‘However, it proved to be hugely motivating. We were overwhelmed by support – getting out on the streets and being visible made the campaign more real to people.’

Measuring effectiveness

The effectiveness of the campaign was measured by tracking both the response to it and the amount of PR generated – particularly vital to charities because of their limited resources. According to Marion Rose, the results showed that FULL STOP was the most ambitious and effective awareness campaign that any charity had ever run. ‘It met and succeeded all its targets,’ she claimed.

Television advertising reached an estimated 85% of the population at 7.1 opportunities to see (OTS), while the posters were seen by around 55% of the public at 21 OTS. PR coverage exceeded all expectations. In addition to over 2,000 press articles, the campaign featured in 230 radio programmes and 71 TV programmes.

In addition to CIM&Sol; Marketing Week's ‘Campaign of the Year’ award, FULL STOP also won the ‘Campaigning Poster of the Year’ title, two Direct Marketing awards, and a Gold Lion at Cannes ‘99.

Evidence of success

The number of new supporters generated by the campaign was 70% above target, as the following figures demonstrate.

Fund raisers83,000100,000
Total 201,000 344,000


Interestingly, the huge database of new supporters created included a group of people – the young and single – who usually restrict their allegiance to political organisations and to charities that campaign on the environment. According to the charity, prior to the campaign, its key supporters had been middle class middle-aged women with older children.

As you have read, the charity sector exists in a highly competitive market. The NSPCC FULL STOP campaign is an excellent example of how commercial market-led concepts can be very effectively applied in a non-profit organisation. However, in other areas of the non-profit sector, managers believe that commercial marketing concepts are not transferable to their services. The philosophy of ‘going to market’ creates a number of very sensitive issues – most based around the word ‘customer’.


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