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Hollywood hand for company rebrand

A new year has signalled a new name for Norwich Union in the UK, to be rebranded Aviva in June this year. Internationally, the firm has been known as Aviva for several years and the listed company has gone by the name since 2002.

To familiarise the public with this name change the provider has drafted in Walter Willis, Eleanor Gow, Richard Starkey, Vincent Furnier and Barry Humphries to front an advertising campaign – that’s Bruce Willis, Elle Macpherson, Ringo Starr, Alice Cooper and Dame Edna Everage to normal folk.

The City may well have known it as Aviva for some time, but IFAs tend to be sceptics when it comes to brand changes and would usually rather firms retain their original name. But such concerns may be assuaged by the fact Aviva is certainly determined to spend big to get the new brand into the consciousness of policyholders and consumers. For the next six months, it will be running the campaign across national media promoting the idea that a name change equals success.
Of all the component Aviva UK companies that now make up NU, it was usually regarded as the strongest brand, certainly more so than the slightly awkward CGU and arguably especially on the life and pensions side, better recognised than Commercial Union or General Accident.

But the Aviva case, put by chief marketing officer Amanda Mackenzie is as follows.

“We are very proud that Norwich Union started 200 years ago, selling protection against fire and highway robbery. As Aviva we are now the fifth largest insurer in the world. As our business becomes increasingly global, we need one name customers can recognise, wherever they are.”
“One name means a unified company, allowing us to share our knowledge and expertise with customers around the world. The new advertising campaign communicates our name change in a dynamic and vibrant way, signaling that this is the beginning of an even better way of doing things for our customers.”

Advisers with slightly less than global ambitions are turning their eyes to more domestic issues and have come up with a mixed bag of predictions.

For Unleash Advice Partnership IFA Adrian Kidd, 2009 should bring more competitive premiums to increase take up, which in turn will pave the way for more consumers to focus on their protection shortfalls.

Highclere Financial Advice partner Alan Lakey says the FSA¹s decision to exclude protection from its retail distribution review paper for now raises cause for concern entering 2009. Lakey says discussing commission when selling protection will do nothing more than add “a psychological pressure on the client”.

Lakey also highlights the potential for turning a simple product area into “an extremely complex and negative way of doing business” should the RDR spill into protection.
Lifesearch senior policy adviser Matt Morris agrees with Lakey. He says:

“The RDR is a cause for concern. As there is no investment element in protection for commission to eat into there is no consumer gain to be achieved from a forced move away from commission. Instead there would be complete market chaos and failure as there is no chance at all that protection can be widely sold on a fee basis.” Aside from the RDR, Morris predicts a lapse rate increase in 2009 as recession bites.

He says: “I think this is a real test of the adviser. Those who sell on price will find their clients wandering as the customer looks for ever cheaper deals, but those who add value through good quality advice will be better prepared because they offer more than just a quick cheap sale
– it’s not going to be an easy time for anyone.”


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