Seven Families one year on: What has the campaign achieved for protection?

The Seven Families campaign has been a “springboard” to improving consumer awareness of protection, say industry experts.

One year on from the campaign’s launch, commentators say the initiative’s greatest successes have been improving adviser engagement and bringing industry funding together.

But others say the project has failed to ignite consumers’ interest in the way many hoped.

Seven Families was launched a year ago by the Income Protection Task Force.

In partnership with charity Disability Rights UK, it has provided financial support for one year to seven families where the breadwinner is unable to work due to poor health.

Almost all major providers contributed funding of £20,000, giving the campaign a total budget of around £350,000.

Half of this was spent on providing financial support to the families, while the rest was spent on promoting the campaign. It has been promoted through videos telling the families’ stories, press coverage and social media.

There have been 269,000 views of the videos through Facebook and YouTube and 550 pieces of press coverage, according to the IPTF. It says that 10 to 15 per cent of the press coverage has been in consumer publications, including the Mail on Sunday, the Sunday Times and the Independent.

Further activity is planned in the coming months, including radio coverage.

Protection Review chief executive Kevin Carr says: “Throughout the campaign we have not talked about insurance and that has made it more human.

“The public are smart enough to see what has happened to these families, and to think about what they can do to prevent it from happening to them.”

According to the latest Swiss Re state of the market report, IP sales grew by 7 per cent between 2013 and 2014, from 90,794 to 96,889.

And earlier this year protection portals iPipeline and The Exchange reported a spike in the number of IP enquiries they received between November 2014 and January 2015.

Carr says: “We cannot definitely say any increase in IP sales is down to Seven Families but this has galvanised the industry like nothing before, and the video viewing figures are a good indicator of the impact it has had on consumers.”

Zurich head of retail propositions Peter Hamilton says the campaign has engaged advisers in selling protection.

He says: “Almost all the network meetings I have been to in recent months have used the Seven Families videos in adviser presentations.

“For me, the video of Paul Pickford [who is cared for by his wife after suffering a stroke] is the most powerful I’ve seen in more than 30 years in the industry, highlighting the impact on Paul and his partner, whose life has been turned upside down.”

But Lucian Camp Consulting founder Lucian Camp says the campaign has failed to boost consumer awareness.

He says: “This initiative was never likely to have a huge impact on consumers because it was just not set up on that kind of scale.

“As a collective initiative designed to influence the industry it has been excellent. But when it comes to consumers I don’t understand why the big players won’t market their services with proper budgets.

“Seven Families is one part of the jigsaw, but providers should have been running their own marketing alongside it to give it a boost.”

Masons Financial Planning principal Dean Mason adds: “It is easy to forget that even among advisers, many of those who aren’t in the media-savvy London bubble will not even have heard of Seven Families.

“It is a brilliant initiative but the providers with big budgets should be putting more money behind it and promoting it through TV and radio.”

But Aviva protection managing director Louise Colley says it is “naïve” to think bigger budgets are the answer.

She says: “You can put as much money into marketing as you like but it is all about having the right message and effort behind it.”

Others say the campaign has been a learning opportunity for future initiatives and shows the industry needs to become more social media savvy.

Scottish Widows protection manager Johnny Timpson says: “Advisers now have these high quality videos to use but many say they don’t know what to do with them because they don’t have a social media strategy or the ability to host videos.”

Highclere Financial Services partner Alan Lakey says: “If this was a one-off event it would be slightly disappointing. However, if you look at it as a springboard for further initiatives, then it has been a success as it has got all the major companies putting their hands in their pockets and working together.”