Veronique M Klomp | Blog about branding with a dash of fashion

Against Standard Treatment: What Went Wrong

The average cancer patient doesn’t exist. You don’t have two genetic skin- or long cancers that are equal.  Yet most cancer patients get exposed to possible unnecessary side effects because of the ‘general treatment’ (Steenhorst, 2013).

The Antoni van Leeuwenhoek hospital possesses the technique for treatments that will combat the specific tumor of each individual patient. This technique is possible for some groups suffering from bowel cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and skin cancer, but the aim is to make it possible for every patient. In order to make this possible, more research has to be done and fast. The scientific research can make it possible to penetrate to the core of cancer and to identify the specific abnormalities in the DNA of the tumor (Van Laar, 2013).

In order to make this research possible sixteen million is needed. Eleven million euro enters from sources like Alpe d’Huzes and KWF Kankerbestrijding. So in order to make this possible five million has to be raised before October the fifth (Seijlhouwer, 2013). This is why this summer the Dutch capital’s renowned oncology hospital Antoni van Leeuwenhoek launched a groundbreaking campaign entitled ‘Against Standard Treatment’. The campaign unique in it’s kind; usually the institutes of cancer can only recruit money with their own patients (Seijlhouwer, 2013). However according to their website, today September the 25th, the campaign has only raised 131,711 euro (AVLFoundation, 2013). This means only 2,6% of what is needed has been donated. The campaign, despite the big marketing expenses of 700.000 euro, is a big flop. Want went wrong? With the use of different models, concepts and theories I will analyse the campaign.

Bigger is not Always Better

One of the most important elements is identifying the target audience. Knowing your target market will help to understand them better and gives a bigger chance in convincing them. According to Prof. Dr. René Medema, the campaign is addressed to all the Dutch residents (Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, 2013). The hard thing of target group this broad is that all the different residents have different needs. This will be clarified later on.

The Mission

Within a campaign communication objectives have to defined, without objectives it is impossible evaluate the success of campaign. Overall there are there kinds of communication objectives; either they need to know something – knowledge -, they need to have a certain attitude towards something – attitude – or they need to get in action and do something – behaviour -. Since this campaign was mainly focuses on getting the people in action to donate it’s mainly focused on the communication objective ‘behaviour’. However, at stated by the Press Officer Daniëlle Cardozo they aimed at the wrong objective, nobody knew who the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek hospital actually was (Seijlhouwer, 2013). Since there are 12.000 charities in the Netherlands, donating to an unfamiliar organization seems fairly implausible (Kroezen, 2009).

Importance of Involvement vs. Motivation

To choose a strategy for the campaign several model can be used, including the Rossister and Bellman grid. The grid divides two dimensions: the importance of involvement and the motivation why the purchase decision are made. There is a critical difference between dealing with a low- or high-involvement purchase decision, which are important to process a message successfully. The level of involvement often depends on the perceived risk. With low-involvement, to initiate a positive attitude, the audience just has to pay attention to the message and learn something positive about it. On the other hand, with high-involvement the audience should not only pay attention and learn something about it, it should also accept the message and believe it in order to begin to build a positive attitude. Motivation is linked to emotions, which play an important part in how we process messages. To address a positive of negative motivations requires a totally different creative tactic. With positive motivations you are creating a mood, and when you dealing with negative motivations, you are providing information to solve a (perceived) problem. In the model of Rossister and Bellman positive motivations are referred to as transformational (transforming you mood) and negative motivations as informational. The real strength of this strategy-grid is that gives managers focus in thinking about a product or service in terms of target audience’s involvement with the choice decision and the motivation that drives the consumer (Percy & Rosenbaum-Elliot, 2012). In this case, where donors are highly involved, the choice decision is influenced relatively more by attitude toward the potential charities, and less by brand salience, with the opposite true where donors have low involvement (Miller & Gregory, 2012). Donating to charities isn’t about solving your own problems but rather has to do with increasing you own happiness (Anik, et al., 2009) therefore the motivation is most of the time transformational (Rossister & Bellman, 2005).

Level of Interest

Another important in decision before the launch of a campaign is which component, the message or source, eventually will persuade the consumer to change their attitude; is it what we say or how we say it and who says it? Well, it all depends, again, on the level of involvement. The level of involvement makes the choice on which path the receiver will follow. This can either be central or peripheral. According to the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) of persuasion, we take the central route when we find information interesting of relevant, because then we pay carefully attention to it. Within this route we play close attention to the arguments the marketer presents and generate cognitive responses to this content. Counterarguments are likely to be rejected, whereas supporting arguments are more likely to be accepted. When we are not motivated about the marketer’s arguments we take the peripheral route. The cues, like the attractiveness, are more important to decide how to react to the message. A study, How Donors Choose Charities, shows that the main choice is biased on the donor’s own inclinations and preferences, a desire to help people to which they feel some affinity with, and a partiality for certain causes as a result of personal experiences. Thus, much charitable giving is taste-driven, rather than needs-driven (Beth, 2010). To put it briefly, like the ELM states, we will listen to the arguments of the marketer when we find the charity relevant or interesting. If not, we use cues – e.g. Celebrity endorsement. Within the campaign the marketers used both arguments as well as cues, such as celebrity endorsement.

Six Ways of Seduction

Caldini has spent thirty years on the ways people are influenced. Being able to identify the underlying factor that influence decisions means that we are able to get more positive results. He’s whittled his findings down to six principles. The first principle is reciprocation, reciprocation recognizes that people feel indebted to those who do something for them or give them a gift. This implies for marketers to give something: a free sample or information. By doing so consumers are more likely to listen to a product features, donate a cause, etc. Also the campaign made tried making use of this principle. They try to get more donations by for example giving out signed books from Kluun. The second principle is social proof, when people are uncertain about a course of action; they tend to look to those around them to guide their decisions and actions. They especially want to know what everyone else is doing – especially their peers. Brands can use testimonials of consumers to show the audience that people who are similar to them have enjoyed your product or service. They’ll be more likely to become customers themselves. Within the campaign this principle isn’t clearly used. However, in a fragment where the NOS nieuws pays attention to the campaign; a woman, who gets this personal treatment, tells about the effectiveness of this treatment. The third principle is commitment and consistency. People don’t like to back out of deals. Mostly the do something when they agreed to it verbally or in writing. People strive for consistency and their commitment. They also prefer to follow pre-existing attitudes, values and actions. The older we get, the more consistency is important for us. Making consumers or co-workers publicly committed will result in them follow you actions and a higher retention rate. Another way to make the audience commit to something small, like donating just one euro. When they do this they will be morel likely to commit to bigger actions, like giving a bigger amount of money. The fourth principle is ‘liking’. The more people like and know you the more likely they are to say ‘yes’. They also favour those who are similar to themselves, who give them compliments, or are more physically attractive. Even having the same name as your prospects can increase the chances of making a sale. Giving reports on the extent to which the product or service are similar tot the audience and know the challenges, preferences and so on, can help a brand in persuasion. As already said before, not a lot people knew whom the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek hospital was. This has resulted in les people to say ‘yes’. The campaign also doesn’t point out any similarity with the product or service. The fifth principle is ‘authority’. People respect authority. They like to follow the lead of real experts. Driving an expensive, high-performing automobile, impressive clothing and business titles are proven factors in lending credibility to any individual. Uncertainty will result in people seeking for external guidance in their decisions. Given the influence of authority figures, I would be wise to use some sort of corporate authority figure to help persuade the consumers in purchasing. People are always very uncertain about their future, dead is our biggest fear (Crijns, 2012). Giving the opportunity to make a deadly disease a chronicle disease will certainly persuade people to contribute. Last principle is ‘scarcity’; the less there is of something the more people want it. For marketers this would mean changing their advertising campaign’s message from the product’s benefits to emphasize the potential for wasted opportunity (Polanski, 2012). This charity is the only charity that gives the perception of having the availability to cure cancer.

A Way to Enter the Screening Criteria

Daily a person is confronted with 310 commercials a day (Verkade, 2012). This is one of the reason it is important for consumers to receive every message properly. One way to cope with all these messages is resistance. Resistance is to avoid certain messages in order to cope with information overload. Consumers have a cognitive capacity, which makes it impossible to give attention to every message. The only messages that get attentions are messages that meet certain intern screening criteria. Commercial brands divided different strategies to prevent resistance. One of these strategies is ‘two-sided messages’. With ‘two-sided messages’ not only the positive aspects of a brand are being mentioned, but also the negative (De Boer, 2013). On the website there was one argument which was two-sided; the website states “There is a treatment for cancer. It maybe sounds to good to be true, but it is.” Following they explain why this is the case. The use of the arguments is logical and therefore strong: “Like the DNA of a person is unique, the DNA of a tumour is unique too”, “We know now the way shut of all the feeder roads but because this is slightly different with every person, more money is needed in order to give this personal treatment for everyone”. However, in the television commercial they only make use of one-sided messages. It starts of very controversial with an Afro-American saying “I am against standard treatment”. But what they don’t explain is why tailor-made treatments are so important in order to make it a chronicle disease. This is why I find the arguments being used in the commercial far less strong than the website.

Together in Harmony

This campaign makes combines new and traditional media marketing tools and tactics to connect the consumer across multiple platforms – i.e. going from television to website or mobile – and therefore is an integrated campaign. However, there is no use of any kind of personal social media-page. Another media that I find quite doubtful is using the mobile phone. Despite that mobile phone is more into our life than ever, only a young target group uses this to actually vote. Since the target group is much broader than this, it would have been better to give several ways to donate a ‘euro’.  Furthermore, the choice of using television is making sense, it has the biggest reach of all the media.

Conclusions and Recommendations

One of mistake that has been made are the communication objectives. Limited research into the target audience has resulted into aiming at the wrong objective. The audience didn’t know who the charity was. As the principle ‘liking’ from Cialdini describe, people are more likely to say ‘yes’ if they know you.  This shows a possible reason why the campaign it wasn’t such a success.

What the campaign also could have done better is the use of the principle ‘social proof’. There are people who had success with this personal treatment. Yet, they don’t show it anywhere in their campaign, only in the fragment of the NOS journal – which is not a part of their campaign. Also the principle ‘commitment and consistency’ could be more emphasized.

Another conclusion is that since the biggest medium used with the biggest reach in this campaign was the television; it would have been stronger if they had use ‘two-sided’ arguments in order to meet the criteria to get into the screening of the target group. Also is the choice of SMS-voicing quite doubtful.

However, the biggest conclusion that can be drawn is that these three models, theories, concepts show is that involvement is a really important to decide the strategy. To have a target audience this broad makes it hard to determine the level of involvement, and makes it even harder to have or create a strong strategy.

Based on these conclusions, my main recommendation would be to redefine the target group. Do in-depth research in order to discover their importance of involvement and the motivation why the purchase decision are made. This will help to determine a fitting strategy. Including the right media, use of principles and arguments.


This entry was published on September 30, 2013 at 3:21 pm. It’s filed under Consumer Behaviour and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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