Comic Relief

Case Study Trailer

Avoiding the Competition for Decades: The Case of Comic Relief

Author(s): KIM, W. Chan, MAUBORGNE, Renée, PIPINO, Melanie


On March 15th, 2019, streets and office buildings across Britain will be filled with people wearing red noses taking on challenges to raise money for the charity, Comic Relief. Founded in 1985, Comic Relief leap frogged existing UK fund-raising charities and emerged as one of the most distinctive charities in the UK that also enjoys the lowest costs. In an overcrowded industry that suffered rising costs, declining demand, and a public confused by the sheer number of fundraising charities, Comic Relief rapidly achieved 96 percent national brand awareness. In 16 events, they raised over £1 billion by inspiring everyone from traditional wealthy donors to previous nondonors, including children, to give. Now, more than 30 years after its creation, there is still no credible imitator to Comic Relief in the UK.

The case reveals how Comic Relief gained strong insight into how to create new demand by looking to nondonors and what turns them off and what are the blocks to utility related to giving. This case also reviews the considerable barriers to imitation behind the enduring success of Comic Relief: the alignment of the three strategy propositions – value, profit, and people.

Instructors can use the case to teach the concept of noncustomers and how to create all new demand; how to build a sustainable advantage by aligning the three strategic propositions of value, profit and people and to explore the difference between disruption and what Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne call “nondisruptive creation”.

Case Study
Teaching Note

Teaching Materials

Blue ocean pedagogical materials, used in over 2,800 universities and in almost every country in the world, go beyond the standard case-based method. Our multimedia cases and interactive exercises are designed to help you build a deeper​ understanding of key blue ocean strategy concepts, developed by world-renowned professors Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.
Materials available from Harvard Business Publishing
Blue Ocean Shift | Strategy materials available from The Case Centre
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