The insurance category is very low involvement. There is little perceived difference between providers and it is seen as a functional necessity. Or, in other words, a grudge purchase. Add to that the difficulties faced by the insurance industry over the past 18 months due to the earthquakes and the fact that fewer people were shifting insurers, and it’s very difficult for marketers to move the dial. So State decided to try and better connect with New Zealanders by moving beyond its core insurance function and adding something of value with ‘With you in the Water’. But rather than purchase an existing sponsorship property, State created its own by bringing separate water-related entities under the same marketing umbrella.
Founded on the brand positioning of ‘what’s important to you, is important to us’, State pulled insights from research that found 50 percent of consumers expected insurers to play an active role in reducing risk, not just insure against it. In year two of a three year sponsorship, it modified its strategy and set about building a stronger communications programme to create more impact by facilitating partner events and programmes, and placing greater importance on telling its customers and the rest of New Zealand about its sponsorships.
The cornerstone of the association with Swimming NZ is State Kiwi Swim Safe, a programme designed to ensure every primary school kid has access to quality swim and water survival education at school (the programme also facilitates the training of school teachers). State also took ownership of Surf Life Saving’s national fundraising day, National Jandal Day, and focused its energies on the Ocean Swim Series and State Beach Series.
The sponsorship programme was put at the forefront of its communications and it made sure wherever it interacted with its market, whether in advertising, direct marketing, online or via branches or call centres, the ‘With you in the water’ brand messaging was consistent. More than 500,000 people directly received communication from State about the programmes, and many more were exposed to messages through TVCs, radio, bus backs, adshels, collateral placed within aquatic and swimming centres and existing customer communications.
All State’s objectives were well and truly exceeded. The State Kiwi Swim Safe Programme has upskilled 7,000 teachers and seen 142,000 children educated about water safety in over 755 schools (60 percent of these coming from Year two of the programme) and it is on track to further exceed targets.
Attendance and awareness is up significantly for the swimming events and State National Jandal Day clocked a record-breaking fundraising effort in 2011. Total awareness of the With You in the Water sponsorship programme, both from customers and non-customers, charted double-digit growth on its first year to reach 29 percent and is at the point where, with a limited leverage budget for a programme of this size, its awareness levels are close to its previous sponsorship of NZ Cricket. That awareness is having the desired effect: 75 percent of customers and non-customers felt it was good to see State supporting water activity and one in three were more positive towards State as a result.
Great sponsorships are not just about big investments and broad awareness. They’re about finding the right brand fit, being in an environment that makes sense to your customers, being smart about your leverage strategy and facilitating something that matters to people. And by doing these things, State has found the sweet spot: a win for its brand, a win for its partners and a win for consumers.
Winner: State Insurance
Judge’s comment: "They did fantastic work on understanding the insight, which was that people want their insurance company to actively get involved in helping them to manage risk. Rather than go out and find one property, they actually put a programme together from a number of different properties that all connected to the central idea of ‘if it’s important to you, it’s important to us’."
Merit: Kellogg’s Nutri-grain
Kellogg’s sponsorship of the Ironman programme is an excellent fit with Nutri-Grain’s positioning of ‘Iron Man Food’ and the integration of the property into the marketing strategy has led to a demonstrable increase in business. By supporting events like The Nutri-Grain Taupo Half and Nutri-Grain Ironman New Zealand, the brand’s core values of strength, determination and commitment have shone through and the sponsorship has resulted in significant share growth, strong awareness of the sponsorship with the core target, strong brand fit scores with consumers and excellent ROI for PR.