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Aviva: Why we launched our hard-hitting IP TV campaign

Most Money Marketing readers will now be aware of our latest initiative to raise awareness of protection.

If you watched the first episode of Downton Abbey on Sunday you will have seen our idents – the short adverts either side of the ad breaks – which told the story of real-life Aviva income protection customer Gary as he recovered from a motorcycling injury.

Gary sustained serious injuries in a motorcycle accident which meant that he could no longer continue to do his job as an engineer. His policy provided him with an income while he was unable to work, and enabled him to retrain for another profession while continuing to receive an income from Aviva.

If you haven’t seen them, feel free to check them out at

You might also be aware that they’ve created quite a bit of noise throughout the industry. Some people are asking if our approach was right to show such a “depressing” story in the midst of this much-loved family drama?

We are no stranger to debate in the protection space. This time last year we thought long and hard about how we could get more people to consider life insurance. The resulting ‘ghost dad’ is still one of the most talked about ads among the financial services industry.

While it prompted quite a variety of views at the time we still feel our approach was right – and we feel the same about our latest campaign.

We gave great consideration to the subject matter before we launched these idents. We’re aware that the approach we’ve taken is a bit different to the norm, but it’s important to us to reflect reality. The stories specifically show how the lives of everyday people can suddenly take a dramatic turn, but that financial support can help in their hour of need.

We want to help consumers protect themselves and we want to help advisers to be able to engage with their clients too.

We worked very closely with Gary, the customer behind Sunday’s story, to ensure that his case was handled as sensitively as possible, with the care and consideration people expect from Aviva.

We understand some viewers didn’t like the idents but we would welcome industry ideas on how we can find a way to raise these difficult subjects…

You can also see Gary’s his story in his own words through the above link.

Sue Helmont is head of brand at Aviva


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There are 15 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I think it’s great you’re doing this, and infinitely prefer using real people to Paul Whitehouse in a variety of Dick Emery style get-ups. Where you went wrong was choosing Downton Abbey. On a Sunday, millions of people in the UK want to settle down and watch inoffensive, fluffy drama from a bygone era. Shocking them back into real life 4 times and hour is obviously going to upset them, regardless of the message you’re trying to get across.

  2. I liked it. Anyway, what’s wrong with a little bit of reality in the middle of some mindless fluff on a Sunday evening? 😉

  3. As I never watch any rubbish like Dowton Abbey, I did not see the ad. But anything any insurer does to show how anyone can buy suitable cover for very little money is a Good Thing. But, and it is a very big but, as Aviva and the like are private businesses they are now not in competition with each other but with the nanny state. All those lovely pointless bureaucrats are desperate to retain their pointless jobs and are going Hell for leather in trying to prove that they can provide universal benefits for everyone all at someone elses expense. Berks.

    Best of luck with that Aviva.

  4. I am not sure that an episode of Downton Abbey showing battle scenes and the carnage of the First World War together a story line of a 100 maimed and wounded soldiers being hospitalised at the Lord of the Manor’s residence can be described as a “fluffy drama”

    Oh oh I think I have just “outed” myself as someone who watched it!!!

  5. Anytthing that makes people aware of the need for Income Protection cover is important and beneficial

  6. I never realised people actually watched the adverts!!

  7. I thought it was a tasteless advert badly produced and reflects extremely poorly on Aviva.

  8. @ Steven Farrrall – go check your state benefit tables.

    Anyone still calling it the ‘nanny state’ needs a new script writer, and needs to get their head out of the clouds.

  9. Mark Myers CEO British Friendly 20th September 2011 at 12:38 pm

    The most important thing is to tackle the apathy which sees fewer people taking out this important protection year after year.

    Many will disagree with the style and timing, but I say well done Aviva for creating the stir and keep doing it

  10. To ‘Anonymous’ posting at 11.22 am.

    You don’t work for the FSA do you??

  11. I agree with Nick!
    How people can sit through a drama that depicts the carnage of WW1 and then complain about the adverts that just suggested the human effects of an accident, is beyond me.
    Personally, I didn’t think they were hard hitting enough. I would’ve liked to have seen a discussion between Gary and his wife where he couldn’t see how they’d ever carry on with all these outgoings, and then his wife remembers the PHI policy that Gary really kicked up about being advised to take out.
    That could’ve been a little more real

  12. I think people sometimes need a shock and think it’s great that any company is out there promoting protection. It is vital

  13. That fact that it’s caused such a stir amongst commentators has achieved exactly what Aviva and the advertising agency wanted. All this exposure will surely raise public awareness through recall about their income protection product – much more so than Whitehouse did in his Argyle kit on an away day, I can’t even recall what they were pushing with that!

  14. Anything that promotes Income Protection is worthwhile. We have the lowest level of protection in the developed world and people are largely ignorant of that. Well done Aviva and I look forward to Unum’s ad as well

  15. The hit em hard ethos worked for direct sales teams of the past. I congratulate both Aviva and Unum for trying to turn the tide of this most needed but misunderstood product.

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