Aviva has got 2011 off to a good start for the protection industry. Consumers need to understand why what we do is important to them and their families and Aviva has taken a brave step in investing time and money to do just that. We have seen what successful television advertising can do for protection – look at plans for the over-50s. It has to be simple, clever and regular for the message to get through.
Aviva pitched its advert at the right level – subtle but with a clear message about what can happen in the event of a parent’s death. Looking at comments posted on YouTube, it is clear that some found the ad dark and one even believed it would lose Aviva customers but other comments showed it was thought-provoking and would achieve the desired result. Let’s hope so.
Countless Government campaigns on drink-driving and road safety have used emotive tactics to increase awareness and it is about time we tried the direct approach.
One of my colleagues noted that the ad is a good prom-otion of family income benefit, which is ironic for Aviva as it currently does not offer it (which I hope it will rectify). I genuinely want Aviva to see its protection sales increase as a result of its efforts but maybe we will also see an increase in Fib sales, as it is tailor-made to provide for all the things Aviva focuses on in its ad.
I hope this is just the beginning of some effective publicity of protection products. Unum has already committed to a campaign of its own, focusing on income protection, and we need more providers to follow suit.
I have some concerns about the impact of consolidation but perhaps stronger balance books may result in some investment in marketing rather than reducing premiums further. Cutting premiums has had little effect in getting more consumers to buy protection, so a different approach needs to be taken.
Given Scottish Provident’s research showing 48 per cent of advisers questioned feel life insurance is more important than income protection or critical illness, it is not only the awareness of consumers we need to worry about. Even without big marketing pushes educating consumers, it shows providers can still have an impact educating advisers.
Aviva and Unum are not the only ones campaigning to increase consumer awareness; Martin Lewis and Mumsnet have started a joint petition for financial education in schools. This is not a new idea – Lifesearch did the same in 2009 – but it is welcome. I hope the Government finally does something about it and that the curriculum covers insurance products.
Well done Aviva. Let’s hope its courage in trying something new has a positive impact on us all – insurers, intermediaries and, most important, consumers.
Emma Prescott is head of provider relations at Lifesearch