5 ideas for protection digital advertising

Phil Jeynes, Head of Sales and Marketing at UnderwriteMe has put together this Video/Audio presentation and discusses 5 ideas we could use to create engaging adverts for protection.


And this is the transcript of the video if you'd prefer to read.

Hi, I'm Phil Jeynes. I'm head of sales and marketing at UnderwriteMe.

We're a technology company that works in the life insurance sector to make life insurance easier to sell and easier to buy. Protection Review asked me to have a look at marketing and, in particular, how marketing is changing in the digital era. I've chosen to approach this by looking at five examples from outside of the life insurance industry, examples of advertising campaigns and marketing campaigns that I thought really stood out from the crowd. I want to look at what I thought made them good and ultimately what I think the application of these approaches might be in the life insurance sector.

Given that we're a slick, digital, modern company, I've chosen to do this in an audio and visual format rather than just by writing a blog, but given that I'm head of sales and marketing and nothing to do with anything technical, I've asked Roger Edwards and the Protection Review to stitch it all together for me. So credit to Roger for making this listenable.

By way of introduction, I think in life insurance we don't market very much to consumers and when we do it tends to be reasonably formulaic. "Here's a family. Here's what could go wrong to that family." We finish by saying it costs less than you think, and we direct them to a website where they might go and buy some cover. Nothing wrong with that. Could we stand out a little bit more from the crowd? Could we do something a little bit more innovative that made our product that little bit more appealing? Other industries have their own problems as to how to market to their customers. So here are five examples of companies that I think managed to stand out. So the first we're going to look at is Amazon.

Amazon are obviously a huge company and arguably don't need to do too much these days in the way of brand building. When they launched their innovative Alexa product, they wanted to make it stand out and they chose the iconic Superbowl ad slot to do just that. The advert they chose to place implied that Alexa had lost her voice and to replace her, they drafted in a star studded cast of celebrities including Gordon Ramsay, Cardi B Sir Anthony Hopkins all trying and spectacularly failing to replace the iconic voice of Alexa.

There are a few things I like about this advertising campaign. First and foremost, it's really funny. The joke works. They get a lot of different celebrities in all these different personalities and different public personas and that means they can tell the same story lots of different ways. Without it sounding boring, you can chunk it up into bite sized adverts or view the whole thing is a big movie and that makes it shareable. You can send it to your friends across social media and say, have you seen the Gordon Ramsey one etc? So how could we use this in a protection setting? Insurers have long recognised the value of celebrity and many insurance companies already trying to associate their brand with, for example, high profile sports stars. Most I would assume don't have the same budget as Amazon and therefore aren't going to be placing an ad in the middle of the SuperBowl with a dozen or so high profile celebrities attached to it.

But could we use this principle in the life insurance sector? Could we find a high profile cancer sufferer? Could we find somebody who'd lost a spouse and could we get them to talk about the impact it had on their lifestyle? So the power of celebrity brought into the real world.

The most tangible example I can think of from recent years was the high profile sports presenter from Sky Sports who lost his wife suddenly and tragically at a very early age. He went on to write a blog and record many videos about the impact that this devastating loss had had on his life, the impact on his young son on his own career and on his thoughts about what was important and what he was going to do in the future. A delicate balancing act to take such as shocking real life example and turn it towards selling life insurance. But by using the principles that Amazon did. Not talking about the product but representing the product using somebody else's story is something I think we should look at.

The next example I wanted to talk about was from the Campaign Against Living Miserably or CALM. CALM as most of you will know or a charity that support people suffering with mental health issues.

CALM ran a campaign called Project 84 which incorporated placing 84 lifesize mannequins on the roofs. The ITV studios in London. The 84 represented the fact that there are, there's a male suicide every two hours in the UK. That's 84 a week. The campaign was incredibly visually, striking and quickly became shared on social media and across the news channels and drew attention to this blight on the UK's health. Of all the examples I'm going to talk about this one is probably the closest to our home in the life insurance sector. We have our own statistics that are just as shocking as the male suicide ones. And in fact to the Association of British insurers publish statistics every year about the number and quantity of claims that have been paid out by insurers in the UK, but could we turn those numbers from a page into something more visually striking?

Could we use high profile landmarks to make our point? Almost every insurer in the UK has their own head office and they tend to be pretty nice high profile buildings. Swindon, London, Edinburgh, all of these places and more have an insurer based there with a large office, well known in the local area. By doing something visually striking around these landmarks in a coordinated way across the industry, could we make the headlines had we make our point more effectively than through a traditional press release?

Moving slightly further away from home? Stabilo the makers of pens launched a campaign called "Highlight the Remarkable". Less digital and mainly in print and outdoor. It used iconic imagery from history and highlighted the women involved. One example being the NASA photo which showed all of the people that worked on the Apollo 11 project and they use their highlighter pen to highlight Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who despite being in the background, was credited with some of the mathematics which allowed Apollo 11 to land safely back on planet earth. They did this across a whole bunch of different images across history where the women were in the background and highlight them to bring them to the forefront. What I liked about this approach is it's not really anything to do with pens. It's very much about brand and it associated itself with a single topical subject. Equality. Was extremely clever and very, very striking.

Could we draw on this theme and use some iconic imagery which really already resonates with the public to highlight the need for protection cover, flipping it on its head instead of using a highlight or bring someone to the forefront, could we tear out the relevant person? What if they didn't exist? What if they hadn't gone on to do that great thing? How might it have changed the world. And bringing it closer to home? What have you were torn out of your family's scenario, what would the impact be? Perhaps that idea is a bit too big, but I think it's worth looking at in terms of using imagery that the public is already familiar with and turning it on its head.

On a similar theme, Olay, the moisturiser manufacturer use famous inspirational influencers to share their stories of being women under the Hashtag Face Anything. Again like Stabilo, it didn't really talk about moisturisers in the same way. This tablet didn't talk about pens, but it latched onto a public discourse. Following on from the "Me too" movement and the discussion in the public forum of feminism and the broader topic of equality. It made clear to distance itself from the body shaming and stereotypical advertising that so many in the beauty industry are criticised for using and indeed focused on the inspirational stories of each woman in the campaign.

The term influencers is something we're probably not all that familiar with in the life insurance sector, but it defines people who particularly on social media have a huge following and therefore a huge influence. In the financial services market we are petrified of social media and where we do use it. We use it as a sales tool with very unsubtle methods of pitching. Potentially influencers are a low cost and readily viral way to get to our customers. Could we find influencers who, although they're not in our sector, have their own story to tell about illness, about loss, about mental health, and could we use them to tell our story to customers in a way that resonates with them. It's not an insurer talking to the customer. It's someone they follow activity on social media, talking about their experience and what they could have done differently.

Finally, I wanted to talk to you about Virgin Airlines. Airlines have a similar problem to financial services in that they've often got quite a large amount of quite boring information to get across to their customers. The way that Virgin Airlines chose to tackle this in respect of their safety video was to throw a big budget at it.

They released a high profile dance production choreographed by a very famous producer to make their boring safety video into an all singing, all dancing extravaganza. This game them 6 million YouTube views in the first 12 days of releasing it. Far more than probably watched it going on the planes. It was fun. It was shareable and mainly because it was surprising. It turns something that everybody knows about the boring safety video you have to watch when you go on a flight and made it something you wanted to send to your friends and say, you won't believe what I'm seeing here.

The protection application for this approach should be fairly obvious. We've long lamented the dull terms and conditions that we have to show to our customers and us marketers have long talks about how we could make that more engaging for customers, not least by just slimming them down and taken out the gobbledegook.

Ultimately we all accept that these huge TNCs aren't read by any customers and therefore they're completely pointless. The argument against turning terms and conditions around nondisclosure, for example, into an all singing all dancing routine would be compliance. I think that theory needs to be tested. Huge, dull un-penetrable terms and conditions are not treating customers fairly. Could we work as an industry to find a more novel approach to get customers to understand terms and conditions. And by doing so, might we get people to talk about life insurance in a more positive light? Could we get people to actually share a life, insurers, t's and C's with their friends and families without embarrassment? Something worth thinking about?

So there we go. Five examples from five very different companies from the world of marketing, all of which resonated with customers, were shared by people and grew their brands. Hope you found that fun. I hope it's inspired you to think about different ways we could talk about life insurance or maybe not to talk about life insurance and thereby grow the market.

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