Sharks and lightning: expect the unexpected in LifeDirect’s new campaign

Following the sad demise of mascot Simon the sloth, LifeDirect by Trade Me has gone for the unexpected in its newest brand campaign by Y&R.

The 30-second ad, ‘Unexpected Happens’, opens with a man in his dressing gown drinking a “Columbian blend” coffee while resting in the mouth of a shark. As he pulls out a shark spit covered laptop, he explains he’s not worried about his situation as he has taken out insurance through the LifeDirect website.

But the shark turns out to be the least of his worries as the ad closes with him being struck by lightning and disappearing in a plume of smoke.

Though a change from the animated character ‘Simon the Sloth’ seen in the brand’s previous campaigns, LifeDirect does appear to be good at killing-off those who appear in its ads.

Trade Me’s marketing director Regan Savage says the move to change from Simon has been in the pipeline since May this year.

Simon [the sloth]has been with us for years and we loved him, but we didn’t think he represented us as a brand anymore…the original thinking was that buying insurance online was so easy that even a sloth could do it, but buying online is not exactly unique these days.”

Savage says the reason people need insurance is to protect themselves, their families and belongings should the unexpected happen, but the communications challenge is that by definition, people aren’t expecting that.

“This is especially the case for younger people, who may only just be entering the worlds of home ownership and family-building. We wanted to be really straightforward with Kiwis, and call out that there is risk in life, but not do so in a way that scares them. We want to get our point across unequivocally, but by entertaining them rather than terrifying them.”

Aside from the TVCs, LifeDirect has given its site an updated look and feel, and there will be supporting digital advertising, social media and adshels to get the message across.

The latest spot is humourous and not preachy – unusual for an insurance ad – and Savage says in keeping with the wider Trade Me brand, it wanted to be more fun, interesting and engaging.

“This is a serious topic but that doesn’t mean we have to put our serious hats on all the time. Most insurance ads are trying to appeal to a broad cross-section of people, but we’re going for a younger ‘first-time-buyer’ demographic, so we needed something catchy.”

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