BRIEF AND OBJECTIVES:
Earlier this year Virgin Money approached us to develop an eye-catching way of announcing their new life insurance policy (underwritten by Friends Life) to the public. Virgin Money were keen that this announcement should be in keeping with the wider Virgin brand values and that particular attention should be paid to the under 35 demographic in order to engage with audiences unlikely to have previously considered buying life insurance.
Aware that “bank launches insurance policy” wasn’t the sort of story which would ordinarily set the world alight, we decided on a different approach. Most insurance policies gloss over the small print and hide what’s excluded. We decided instead to focus on slightly more unlikely catastrophes and disasters which would be covered by the policy (or at least not explicitly excluded).
As fans of disaster films and B-movies, we pulled together a list of our favourite monster rampages, alien invasions and shark-filled tornadoes.
Based on this, we created a list of ten catastrophic events which, however unlikely, would still be covered by Virgin Money underwriters. This list included being engulfed by a ‘sharknado’, attacked by a 100 ft tall Stay Puft marshmallow man, getting trampled by Godzilla, a Dalek invasion and being given the Cruciatus curse by Lord Voldemort.
We sourced a low-cost stock image showing the Daleks crossing Westminster Bridge and issued this, along with our press release, to a select media list.
Widespread media coverage of our story, including the Daily Star and the Mail Online. Coverage not only included full quotes from Virgin Money’s Insurance Director, Darrell Evans, but in both cases mentioned the brand name in the article headline itself. Mail Online story received over 1,200 shares on social media via the Mail’s sharing buttons. Twitter and Facebook references to the story numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
Virgin Money is a FTSE 250 company and its insurance proposition represents an important part of its business. Business confidentiality makes it difficult for Virgin Money to quantify the commercial outcome of the launch at this stage, but we are able to confirm that management were “very pleased with the coverage achieved and its impact in the target demographic.”
RELATION TO OBJECTIVES, BRIEF AND COST-EFFECTIVENESS:
We were able to secure extensive coverage of our client – including key brand mentions – through an unusual, creative approach to the problem rather than through large financial outlay.
This case study proves that set-piece choreographed stunts are not necessarily required to achieve high levels of awareness. Our use of a ‘virtual stunt’ was as effective as a stunt that would have cost tens of thousands of pounds.
Our story appeared on the Mail Online, one of the most high-profile news sites in the world and consequently reached a much wider audience than any traditional financial story would ordinarily do. The sharable nature of the story meant that it played well with the younger end of the Mail Online’s audience (around 45% of site visitors are 35 or under).
By sourcing a low-cost stock photo which so perfectly illustrated our story – and playing into the media’s interest in illustrating stories with their repertoire of movie-related imagery – we were able to create the impact of a photo stunt without any of the associated costs. Delivering the image with the press release meant journalists had a ready-made story and contributed to the success of the campaign.
There are thousands of life insurance policies on the market and launching a product with limited USPs was always going to be challenging. We used Houston PR’s ‘Periodic Table of Storytelling’, our trademark methodology, to unlock the possibilities for this challenging brief.
By engaging with the company’s compliance department we were able to formulate an interesting an eye-catching list of ‘inclusions’ that we felt would lend street cred to the Virgin Money offer. In fact, the only stumbling block, which we overcame arose when we debated whether we could claim that the new lists of risks would be covered or might be covered. The compliance team argued initially that ‘might be covered’ was far as we could go. Their reasoning was that if Godzilla emerged from the deep and wreaked havoc, there might not be a compliance team left to agree a policy payout. We managed (successfully) to overcome this hurdle.