UK Census 2011

Marketing Communications Campaign for Census 2011

Targeted at the Fifty Plus Audience

The key points:

  • Target audience: first cohort of the Baby Boomers (teenagers of the sixties).
  • Background/ Research
  • Strategy: situate Census socially and gain social meaning by association (the 60s) in order to create favourable predispositions and associations.
  • Positioning: We want the “teenagers of the sixties” to see completion of the Census 2011 as the opportunity to change something that will improve their life, and will allow creating future memories as great as the ones they lived in the past.
  • The IDEA: Yesterday is to be remembered/ Tomorrow is to be invented Communication tools and media.
  • Execution



The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is the executive office of the UK Statistics Authority, a non-ministerial department which reports directly to Parliament (ONS website, 2011). It is therefore a public service body, and the current marketing communication campaign will be approached from a social marketing perspective.

Social marketing is a revised form of the commercial marketing “designed to define the voluntary behaviour of target audience to improve their personal welfare and that of the society of which they are part” (Andreasen, 1994, p. 110 cited in Parson & Maclaran, 2009, p.164). In this case, “marketing use has extended beyond commercial sphere and has radically changed the nature of our participation as citizens in the solution of social problem.” (Parson & Maclaran, 2009, p.161).

Proctor (2008, p.2) defines marketing in the public sector as “the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying stakeholders requirements and in so doing serve to facilitate the achievement of the organisation‟s objectives”.

Census is a count of all people and households in the country (ONS is in charge for England and Wales). It provides population statistics from a national to neighbourhood level for government, local authorities, business and communities. It happens every decade, and the next one will take place on 27 March 2011, involving around 25 million households. (Source: ONS website, 2011).

Customer-centred approach

If the marketing communication campaign for Census 2011 is approached as a social campaign, then the consumer will be at the heart of it. The term “consumer” has a commercial connotation and therefore, “target adopter” is suggested as being more suitable phrase for use in social marketing (Parson & Maclaran, 2009, p.164).

Adopting the “consumer orientation” approach implies that “the perceptions, needs and wants of the target adopters are central throughout all stages of marketing planning” (Parson and Maclaran, 2009, p.164). Therefore, at this stage, emphasise was put on research, segmentation, targeting, and positioning.



The first idea for segmentation was to create a campaign for an affluent and challenging, yet less explored market – the “grey market”. Researching on the group of the over fifties and trying to decide on a segment, several variables were analysed. For instance, dividing a homogeneous group purely on age or decades (50-59 years old, 60-69 years old, etc) felt simplistic. There was an imminent need of a stronger element that would embed common motivations, attitudes and behaviours. The solution was found in another demographic variable – generation.

Generation as a target

According to Kelley (2008, p.64) “generations are brief periods of time that are connected with popular culture. Consumers of the same generation are connected not only by age but by the various milestones they have reached together. Some unifying characteristics include music, fads, inventions, politics, and social movements”.

Baby boom era is defined by a great growth in the birth rate, which happened in the UK between 1946 and 1964. The babies born in that period are named “Baby Boomers”. The first baby boom generation are called simply “Boomers” (1946-1954) and represent approximately 18% of the current UK population; the second baby boom generation, named “Generation Jones” (1956-1964) – respectively 23% (

Yet, it is important to highlight that the two cohorts were born into and rose in distinctive economic, technological and social environments (ONS, 2000, p.28), and therefore these two segments of the population developed notable different attitudes and values.

Census 2011 aims to everyone (all people, households and overnight visitors), and it is assumed that (in practice, for the actual Census 2011 campaign) the overall targeting strategy consists of full market coverage, and uses differentiated marketing (each requiring a particular market positioning and message). However, for the purpose of this paper, a single segment strategy was chosen – the Boomers.

Boomers Life – Facts

It was decided to use the Boomers generation as a common ground for targeting.

The first baby boomers (1946-1954), born in the period of post-WWII severity, went through rationing and selective education. Yet, “when they entered the labour market the economy was entering a period of relative prosperity. Not only was the job market optimistic, but the rapid expansion of higher education in the 1960s also meant new opportunities in education and work” (ONS, 2000, p.28).

Moreover and more important, the entire culture of revolution and freedom that was planted in the personality of the teenagers in the 60s.


An analysis of the target group was carried out by following discussion on social networks (Twitter and Facebook), forums (sagazone), and direct, one-to-one interview (informal discussion) with 4 representative member of the target group. The objectives were to establish what characterise them as a generation, and perceptions they have about the (2011) Census.

As a result, it was discovered that the first cohort of the baby boomers (1946-1954), the teenagers of the 1960s are nostalgic about the great time they had; the time passed by and they still feel young (this was an interesting finding opposed to my initial beliefs). Moreover, according to Mintel report (2010) the 55+ represents an affluent segment of the UK population, and was less affected by the recession. The research found also that the key memories refer to: Freedom, Beatles, Hippies (flower power), Woodstock festival, Mini skirt, Motorbike, Peace, Sex, drugs & rock and roll, Revolution/ change.

Investigating attitudes towards Census, was found that the boomers are familiar with the “product” and “process” of completion, as the 2011 census will be the 4th or 5th they would have to participate in. Some target group representatives‟ said it is “a waste of money” as they think the government has all the information about people by other methods; others though it is boring but showed compliance; and others believe it will not only help the local councils distributing the resources for the community, but also is a good way of tracking the family genealogy. Yet, majority of opinions demonstrate a feeling of their civic duty in taking part (sagazone forum and 3 interviewees).


The marketing communication objectives intend to:

O1: raise awareness among 90% of target audience (56-65, teenagers of the 60s);

O2: create positive feelings related to the wonderful era of the sixties and obtain engagement of 70% of the target audience;

O3: obtain 60% participation in the completion of the questionnaire of the target audience.

Strategy: to provide relevant information and create favourable predispositions towards the Census 2011.

“Several studies show that people in a positive mood make decisions more quickly, use less information, avoid systematic processing, evaluate everything more positively, accept a persuasive message more easily and pay less attention to details” (Pelsmaker, 2005:39).


Strategy: to situate Census socially and to gain social meaning by association (the 60s) in order to create favourable predispositions and associations.

Positioning: We want the “teenagers of the sixties” to see completion of the Census 2011 as the opportunity to change something that will improve their life, and will allow creating future memories as great as the ones they lived in the past.

Messenger strategy: In order to resonate as much as possible with the target adopters, a variety of elements from that era are used, and in addition is used the endorsement of the icon of the 60s – British band “The Beatles”.




Creative objective: The main goal is to develop communication that will capture the attention of the target audience, engage with a resonating message and use the associated good feelings as a motivator for participation.

Tone of voice: Nostalgic but Optimistic

Visuals: Make use of representative, self-speaking images.

Audio: 2 Beatles‟ songs: Yesterday (recall of great memories) and Revolution (call to change).




For successful outcomes, marketing communication campaign for 2011 Census intends to reach the boomers (target adopters/ target audience) and will integrate Advertising (Print, Radio, Outdoor), Public Relations, Special Events, and Promotional pack into one holistic and cohesive program.

The decision for media mix was preponderantly based on qualitative criteria (emotional impact, medium involvement, attention devoted to the medium, and added value to the message), but also on quantitative criteria (reach, and selectivity).

Communication with the target audience will be divided in 3 stages:

  • pre-campaign: 21th -27th February (educative/ informative)
  • actual campaign: 28th February – 27th March
  • post-campaign: 28th March – 6th April (mostly PR)

The aim is to use integrated marketing communication to achieve consistency in the use of slogan, images, colours, font types, key messages.


It was decided to invest in this form of communication in order to reach the desired audience.

Advertising is a paid service, but its main advantage is that it guaranties control over the content and manner in which communication will take place. On the other hand, as a public sector organisation, there are opportunities for unpaid advertising (or greatly discounted), called Public Service Announcements (PSAs). However, the level of control is lower: “it is not known where the add will actually appear in newspaper or magazine or during what time of day it will air on [.. ] radio” (Kotler ant Lee, 2008, p.299).

The main media used are: print, outdoor and radio.

Consulting the Mintel Report (2010) “Media Consumption amongst over-55s – UK – August 2010” was decided on the following (Source: NRS April 2009-March 2010):


  • M&S and Waitrose (mostly affluent older female);
  • Saga Magazine (97%) and Yours (95%), followed by People‟ Friend (93%), Woman & Home (77%), The National Trust Magazine (76%), Reader‟ Digest and BBC Gardeners‟World (both 75%), Heritage Today (72%) and Woman‟ Weekly (71%). All of these titles have a clear female bias and the data refers to readers 45+);
  • The National Trust Magazine, with a total readership of 3.5 million, four in five of whom are ABC1, has a significantly large volume of affluent older readers. (Source: NRS April 2009-March 2010).


  • Creates the possibility for selective approach;
  • Can induce high involvement level, and are perceived as credible (Pelsmacker, 2005);
  • The message life is relatively long.


  • It is a slow medium, which may delay the reach;
  • There is no certainty of when it will be read.


  • The Daily Telegraph, Sunday Express, Daily Express, Daily Star, Sunday Express, Financial Times, Daily Mail.
  • The 55+ consumer remains loyal to the print, with 51% newspaper reach among 55-64 (Mintel, 2010);
  • Are targeted toward a specific target group;


  • A large number of people can be reached in a short period of time;
  • It is a flexible medium and allows last-minute changes/ adjustments;
  • “The readers are high involved in their newspaper, and the objective, informational context makes it a credible medium with high impact, not only for ads, but also PR messages” (Pelsmaker, 2005, p.141).


  • Limited selectivity of the medium and low quality of reproduction;
  • The message has a very short life.

What do Over-55s Read in Newspapers and Magazines?

“Over-55s have above-average consumption of news/current affairs, TV guides, social/human interest stories, competitions/crosswords and games, business and finance, personal finance, weekend supplements, humour, travel, columnists and cookery/gardening features.” (Mintel, 2010). The advertising space/ place in the newspapers and magazines will be decided and adjusted according to the target adaptors’ reading habits.


  • A radio advert of 30 seconds will be included.


  • A large number of people can be reached – “Regular radio listening is higher among over-45s than in younger groups, six in ten of whom tune in seven days a week, at a percentage of 53 (Mintel, 2010).
  • The over 55s are regularly listeners & for them it is more than just background noise (Mintel, 2010)
  • Low production cost & a dynamic medium;
  • It is a selective medium to target the specific group.


  • The lifetime of the message is short.

What do Over-55s listen to on the Radio?

  • The most popular radio programmes regularly listened to by over-55s are news, weather and music.
  • Over half of over-55s tune into radio music programmes on a regular basis.
  • Over-55s are more regular fans of radio comedy than under-55s.
  • “Lifestyle content” is listened to regularly by less than one in ten over-55s. (Mintel, 2010)


  • Billboards, Buss boards and Ambient Media


  • Has the potential of reaching large numbers of people and the effective reach can be very high;
  • The life time of the message is long and offers the opportunity to repeated exposures; (Pelsmaker, p.140)


  • Only a limited amount of information can be conveyed (Pelsmaker, 2005, p.140). However, the current campaign is using the outdoor media to (mostly) visually and emotionally engage with the target audience.
  • Theoretically, targeting or selective reach is not possible. However, if placed in areas known to be visited by the target adopters (i.e. Shopping Malls or local areas) could solve (at least partially) the problem.



The promotional pack has an informative purpose. It tries to capture the attention of the target adopters with the name of the “compilation” – CenususMania (associated with the Beatles mania phenomenon of the 60s). As a result, an engaged target adopter is more likely to read the content of the pack and to positively answer to the communication objectives.
The form: Mini vinyl pack (from paper), includes a 2D code which asks to be scanned to receive a free Beatles song; also contains ample (printed) information regarding the Census 2011.
The boomers have the time for reading, and therefore the main advantage consists in longevity of the message, as sometimes “target audiences hold on to these materials, ideally even share them with others” (Kotler ant Lee, 2008, p.301).

  • The distribution of the sets will be trough (inside) the targeted magazines, and also offered at the special events.


  • Stories on radio and television;
  • Articles in newspaper and magazines;
  • Campaign and Post-campaign press conferences;



  • Exhibition “Yesterday is to be remembered/ Tomorrow is to be invented” (60s era & Census history);
  • Census Vintage Market.


Belch G. E. & Belch M. A., (2009) “Advertising and promotion: an integrated marketing communications perspective”, 8th edition. New York: McGraw Hill Irwin. 

Census 2011 official website

De Pelsmacker, P., Geuens M., & van den Bergh J. (2004) “Marketing communications: A European perspective”, 2nd edition. Harlow Essex: Prentice Hall.

Fill C. (2009) “Marketing Communications: engagements, strategies and practice”, 5th edition. Harlow: Prentice Hall, Financial Times.

Getty images pictures

Kelley, D. L. and Jugenheimer, W.D. (2008) “Advertising Media Planning: a brand management approach”, 2nd edition. USA: M.E. Sharpe.

Kotler, P. and Lee, R. N. (2008) “Social Marketing: Influence Behaviours for Good”, 3rd edition. USA: Sage Publications.

Mintel Report (2010) “Media Consumption Amongst Over-55s – UK – August 2010”. [online] vailible at:

Proctor, T. (2008) “Public sector marketing”. Harlow, England; New York: FT Prentice Hall.

Office of National Statisctics (2010)

Raftopoulou, E. (2009) “Social Marketing and Consumer Citizenship”, edited by Parson, E. and Maclaran,

P. (2009) Marketing in the contemporary Organisation. Oxford: Elseveir.

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