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Published by:
INSEAD (2018)
12 pages
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Avoid the Competition for Decades: The Case of Comic Relief


Charity fundraising in the UK was a deep red ocean when Comic Relief started. Costs were up and donations were down. To stand out from the crowd, organizations had to work harder at fundraising and marketing. Yet Comic Relief rapidly achieved 96 percent national brand awareness and has now raised over GBP1 billion without spending anything on marketing. Its flagship event, held once every two years, is almost a national holiday in the UK. The case reveals how Comic Relief redefined the problem of the charity-giving industry - from how to get the wealthy to give out of guilt, to how to get everyone 'to do something funny for money' - thus reconstructing the market boundaries. It understood how to create new demand by looking to non-donors and what turned them off (the blocks to giving). In so doing, it erected formidable barriers to imitation - cognitive, organisational, economic and legal. Its enduring success relies on the alignment of its value, profit and people propositions. It can be used to teach the following Blue Ocean concepts: (1) the Buyer Utility Map; (2) the Three Tiers of Noncustomers; (3) Barriers to Imitation; and (4) Disruptive versus nondisruptive creation.


Social services; Blue Ocean Strategy; Non-profit organization; Disruptive creation; Non-disruptive creation; Barriers to imitation; Non-customers; Market creating strategy; Charity; Blue Ocean Shift; Charity fundraising


The events covered by this item took place in 1985-2017.

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