After waiting for the dust to settle following the Christchurch earthquake, NZI has launched a big animated campaign that tells the story of the 'devil's chair'—and aims to show that the company will be there to help New Zealand businesses when the unexpected inevitably happens.
The 60 second launch ad, which was created by Assembly, shows a series of unfortunate events befalling local businesses in the fictional town of Port Avon and features the end line 'Bad’s not going anywhere and neither are we’, is NZI’s first TVC for eight years, following on from its popular—and consumer-focused—‘everyone’s always stealing our stuff' campaign.
DraftFCB's group account director Toby Sellers says the agency won the business for the IAG brand in 2010 (Colenso BBDO works on IAG's other brands). It created a new strategy and took it in a new creative direction and it was ready to launch its brand campaign but the Christchurch earthquake hit. Wisely, NZI didn’t think it was a good look to be launching a brand campaign after a disaster of that magnitude, so it put the brakes on and decided to focus on supporting the businesses that were affected in Christchurch.
It did run a fairly low-level print, radio and outdoor campaign around the issue of businesses being under-insured in 2011-2012, but Sellers says that was more of a holding strategy until the time was right for a bigger push into the business market.
The main challenge is that NZI doesn’t offer a direct service, unlike its consumer-focused counterparts, so it relies on getting business through insurance brokers. Although NZI is the market leader, research showed the market doesn’t see it like that and that there was no brand that owned that business space. It’s what DraftFCB's PR manager Angela Spain calls ‘set and forget’, where no-one knows or cares who insures them because their broker usually takes care of it.
"So this campaign is about trying to influence the end consumer and getting them to ask for NZI or expecting NZI to be one of the options,” says Sellers. “It’s partially about future-proofing the brand.”
It’s also about creating some advocacy for NZI among the broking community and it embarked on a bit of a roadtrip last week to show them the ad, discuss the rationale behind it and show them that NZI is not a threat to their business.
Sellers says the main pillars of the insurance industry are trust and reliability, but likeability is also important. Insurance is the ultimate grudge purchase so most see likeable insurance companies as oxymoronic, especially after some of the issues in Christchurch and, more recently, the announcement of some sizable profits for insurers that have been hiking their premiums as a result of the disasters.
Creative director Kelly Lovelock says it’s hard to get consumers to even recognise an insurance brand, that’s how low the involvement is in this category. So the brief was to show that NZI gets New Zealand and the issues faced by Kiwi businesses—but to show it in an unique way.
To do that it created the quintessentially Kiwi port town of Port Avon, which Lovelock says is a mix of "Port Chalmers, Banks Peninsula and a bit of Te Kuiti", and used the problematic chair as a metaphor for the ever-present risk businesses face.
“It’s not a clichéd New Zealand, it’s a real cross-section of New Zealand. We’ve got IT businesses, real estate, garages and petrol stations, and it needed to feel like contemporary New Zealand.”
Colenso BBDO’s recent ‘Break my Stride’ campaign for State went down a similar path to show that chaos was all around us, without picking the low-hanging fruit and tapping into what Spain calls the “scare factor, which is yucky”. And Lovelock says using animation was a conscious decision because it’s easier to laugh at misfortune—and there’s been plenty of that in New Zealand in recent years.
“It’s one step removed,” he says. “But it’s not about buffoons making mistakes. It’s about showing that it’s often the things you least expect that can bring you down.”
And that’s where insurance—and, of course, the 150-year-old NZI brand—comes in.
Because the target SME audience is so vast and spread out, Sellers says it’s kicked things off with TV because it’s the most efficient way of reaching them and cutting through. But it will follow up with more targeted comms across digital, print, direct and ambient to specific demographics in the near future.
Another benefit of using animation is that these characters—and the town itself—all exist on a hard-drive, so their stories can be expanded on, something that is becoming increasingly common in an age of trans-media storytelling.
“We wanted to give NZI a world that people could buy into,” Sellers says. “And that world is reflecting their vision of New Zealand and that’s a great way to differentiate the brand from its competitors like Vero and Allianz.”
Lovelock says it "needed to look like nothing that’s ever been seen before and yet still be recognisably New Zealand", and he says Assembly, which is gaining a well-earned reputation as one of the world’s best production houses, delivered (the amount of rendering required sent its power bill through the roof, apparently).
Modern humans have high expectations when it comes to animation. And anything that’s not up to scratch is instantly written off as cheesy or budget. He says it challenged Assembly to push the boundaries with this and the end result, which took around four months to create, is “next level for New Zealand”.
“Nothing like this has been produced in New Zealand before. It’s a feature film scale of production.”
The music track, 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly', is aimed at the slightly older business-owner demographic who might recognise it and he says its spaghetti western heritage also fits the tone.
This is intended to be a long-term campaign for NZI and, as such, Lovelock says the ad needed to have repeat appeal if it hoped to stand the test of time. And that’s why there’s so much detail in it.
“We’re all really chuffed and we think we’ve got there,” Lovelock says. “And from the anecdotal stuff, everyone else is loving it too.”
Karl Armstrong – Executive General Manager
Donna Williams – Marketing and Communications Manager
Amanda Watts – Brand and Communications Manager
James Mok – Asia Pacific Executive Creative Director
Tony Clewett – Executive Creative Director
Regan Grafton – Executive Creative Director
Kelly Lovelock – Senior Creative
Hywel James – Senior Copywriter
Pip Mayne – Head of Content
Toby Sellers – Group Account Director
Michelle Koome – Account Director
David Thomason – Planning Director
Hilary Dobson – senior Planner
Damon Duncan - Director
Rhys Dippie – Technical Director
Amanda Chambers - Producer
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – purchase song details
Ennio Morricone - Composer
Franklin Road Rocks - Jonathan Hughes – music clearance company
Liquid Studios / Peter Van Der Fluit –composition of music
Tamara O’Neill - producer
Brendon Morrow – engineer
SpaceStation – media agency
Amanda Cater – Media Director