The Life Insurance Market
Aviva clearly wanted to create debate on Income Protection with their Downton Abbey advertising campaign, and irrespective of your views on the success of their method, they have certainly got people talking. I’m an avid fan of Downton, and whilst my Protection background meant I could not view the storyline in the same way as a member of the general public, I have to say I was rather shocked at some of the comments I’ve read.
Raising awareness of the need for Protection is never easy; if it was, we’d not need to be constantly talking about the fact not enough advertising is done. Many advisers also find the topic difficult, even when they want to talk about Protection, because let’s face it; we are trying to get customers to think about illness, accidents, death and unemployment. Topics they’d rather not think about.
So when I read that people found Aviva’s motorcycle storyline upsetting, in poor taste and an affront to their cosy Sunday night viewing I was really surprised. After all, like me, many of Downton’s fans would be just as happy watching Waking the Dead on a Sunday which is much more disturbing!
Bad things happen. And they often happen when people least expect them to, even whilst watching programmes like Downton. That’s life. And so whilst Aviva’s storyline could perhaps have been improved slightly so that the viewer engaged more with the character at outset, I think Aviva did a great job at approaching a difficult subject and can only be praised. A subject that, let’s remember, viewers are not used to seeing on television because no-one else has been brave enough to do what Aviva have done.
Until last Sunday that is when Unum’s campaign began, also during Downton. Clearly the small but apparently vitriolic backlash Aviva experienced had not put them off and I’m very glad for it. Their different approach was less hard-hitting than Aviva’s, but the important message was there; you need to think about what might happen and you need a ‘back-up plan’ if it does. Unum targetted the group market with this particular ad and I hope it gets people looking at what their employer offers and if their sick-pay is not sufficient, that they look to arrange cover themselves. I hope that if Aviva’s approach did not appeal to certain viewers, that Unum’s lighter one did.
It’s been a busy week on the IP front as coinciding with the two campaigns, LV= have adjusted their rates; their aim is to grow the market and help advisers sell more IP by reducing the cost. I hope this will happen and not just lead advisers to move business away from other providers. IP is a difficult sell; it takes longer to process the business so intermediaries and clients are often put off by this. But improvements have been made and whilst there’s still a way to go, Aviva and Unum’s admirable efforts should create new demand for such a valuable product and advisers should grab this opportunity to discuss Income Protection with both hands.
Emma Prescott, Life Office Relationship Director.
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