McBride, the marketer behind the charity's recent shocking, but extremely successful, 'Give up before you clog up' fatty cigarette ads, was a self-confessed 'bike-shed smoker' until her offspring convinced her to quit. 'I woke up one morning to find a note tacked to the ceiling above my bed saying, "I don't want you to die, mummy." So I had to give up,' she recalls.
Even McBride, whose job it is to point out the statistical and medical reasons why people shouldn't smoke, isn't completely free of her old habit: 'Sometimes I still dream that I am smoking,' she admits. However, when it comes to helping smokers give up the habit, she takes her responsibility extremely seriously: 'We are dealing with people who are dealing with death.'
The fatty cigarette campaign, funded by the Department of Health and created by Euro RSCG London, was widely acclaimed. About 90% of smokers could recall the ads and the number of people attending stop-smoking clinics doubled - an impact that McBride says 'keeps me warm at night'.
Asked why the campaign was such a success, she points to the 'Pavlovian' response that smokers seem to develop once they have seen the advertising: 'Every time people light up, the image of dripping fat should come to mind.'
Despite its success, McBride has decided to review the charity's advertising and direct marketing account to find a fresh idea. 'As a charity using government money, we have a responsibility to do everything as well as possible,' she explains. 'This means getting the best campaign for our money. The pitch process worked for us before, and we need to maintain that creative standard and work out where we go next.'
Once the agency is decided, the next campaign will focus on the dangers of passive smoking, for which McBride is preparing the next battle in what she terms the 'war against addiction'. Her long-term objective is to 'denormalise' smoking and make it socially unacceptable. She is 'outraged' that non-smokers are forced to breathe in second-hand smoke on a daily basis.
'At the moment, if a person asks if they can smoke in a room and someone says, "Yes, I do mind", this person is seen as boring and socially inept. I want to change this attitude,' she adds.
Such strong opinions are a feature of McBride's character, according to Euro RSCG managing director Simon Toaldo. 'She trusts her instinct,' he says. 'And it is normally right.'
McBride admits to being opinion-ated, but argues that there is no room for complacency if she is to persuade people to give up smoking. The strategy, she says, 'changes every year as people's defences get worn down and smokers continually relabel themselves'.
A former journalist, McBride began her career in the third sector 10 years ago. After a six-year career gap as a full-time mother, she started work with VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) as a press officer. McBride must have been exceptional because, after just one day in the job, she was promoted to head of communications at the charity.
She is eager to make up for lost time in her new career, insisting that, although she may be 50 years old, in 'work years' she feels just 38. McBride's hunger for new challenges is reflected in her CV.
After just two years at the VSO, she jumped ship to become head of press and public relations at Help the Aged, and four years later she joined the British Heart Foundation - a role that, she says, gives her the opportunity to make a difference. 'I am a real change-the-world person,' she enthuses.
So, what next for a woman who wants to rid the world of smoking? Combating drugs? Or car pollution? McBride smiles and, borrowing a line from Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy, she replies: 'Life is a series of challenges, but I can only manage one impossible thing before breakfast.'
1973-1977: Reporter, Hendon Times Weekly newspaper
1977-1982: Researcher, BBC TV
1982-1985: Career break
1985-1988: Documentary director and researcher, BBC TV
1988-1994: Career break
1994-1996: Press officer, rising to head of media relations, VSO
1996-2000: Head of press and public relations, Help the Aged
2000-present: Director of marketing and communications, British Heart