It’s life insurance, Jim, but not as we know it

Youtube Video Life insurance is often seen as something of a morbid necessity and insurance companies often tap into the guilt factor to sell it. But Sovereign’s new campaign ‘Choose Life. Choose Sovereign’, which was developed by Whybin\TBWA and Tequila\ and continues a rebranding journey that began three years ago, aims to take a new, more positive stance on the role insurance plays in Kiwis’ lives with “a message of light-hearted empowerment”.

Given recent events in Christchurch, light-hearted empowerment probably isn’t the first thing that pops into people’s heads when they think about insurance. And some Christchurch residents could be forgiven for thinking the campaign’s message that “we can let life happen or choose the life we want” is a bit of a slap in the face from the marketing department. But Sovereign’s general manager, marketing and product, David Drillien believes “it’s starting a revolution in life insurance”, in a similar fashion to its Best Doctors scheme, which was launched last year and was recently given an innovation award by Canstar Cannex.

“This campaign is about reminding, helping and sometimes challenging New Zealanders to respect, sustain and enjoy the lives they have … We have a choice when it comes to the long relationship that is life insurance. Contrary to popular opinion, not all life insurance providers are the same. The underlying message of our campaign is that choosing Sovereign is a positive step into your future … With this campaign we’re signalling we are looking to make a difference and provide real value to customers throughout their life. In the future, that’s what life insurance will be and our products will reflect that.”

Youtube Video

Youtube Video

Youtube Video

The campaign launched on 1 August with three unbranded teasers and the official launch on 7 August was supported by a big, joyous TVC that was directed by Exposure’s Chris Clark, a new website, online ads, a social media campaign and an online game called ‘Life’s Choice’ (free bacon butties were handed out in Aotea Square to sign people up for it, but, weirdly, when we Googled it and looked on the Sovereign website, it was nowhere to be found). Update: we’re a bit thick. Here it is.

“We wanted to bring Sovereign’s new brand proposition to life in an interesting and engaging way, so we built a digital experience where people can actually play and discover the relationship between their life choices and their happiness and health,” says Ross Howard, Tequila’s creative director.

Life’s Choices taps into the burgeoning realm of gamification in marketing and features things like achievement badges, multiple score and personalised visualisations to encourage interaction and reward longer, deeper repeat play. It also offers social media sharing with Facebook Connect built into the application and, Tequila’s managing director Geoff Devereux says his digital emphasis aims to build awareness among audiences who might think insurance is not relevant to them right now.

Sovereign, which started off as a two-man business in 1989 and, after a series of amalgamations and acquisitions, is now part of ASB, is the largest insurance company in New Zealand and has more than 600,000 customers. It’s also the biggest provider of home loans outside the four major banks and one of the top three health insurers in the country.


David Walden, WHYBIN\TBWA Group CEO

Andy Blood, WHYBIN\TBWA Group ECD

Geoff Devereux, TEQUILA\ Managing Director

Mandy Eckford, WHYBIN\TBWA & TEQUILA\ Account Director

Anita Waugh, WHYBIN\TBWA Group Head

Tracey Lee, WHYBIN\TBWA Planning Director

Julie Maciver, WHYBIN\TBWA Planner

Connan James, WHYBIN\TBWA Creative Director

Craig Farndale, WHYBIN\TBWA Creative Director

Marg Slater, WHYBIN\TBWA TV Producer

Ross Howard, TEQUILA\ Creative Director

Sarah Crosswell, TEQUILA\ Executive Producer

Jessica Neale, TEQUILA\ Art Director

Hsichen Hsieh, TEQUILA\ Flash Developer

Simon Betton, TEQUILA\ Front end Developer

Ryan Sproull, TEQUILA\ Digital Strategist

Chris Clark, Exposure Director

Yolande Dewey, Exposure Producer



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