Special breathes life into insurance

Special has once again lived up to its name and left a mark on the industry by sweeping multiple accolades at the Beacon Awards along with a raft of others locally and internationally. StopPress caught up with Special’s Executive Creative Director Lisa Fedyszyn and Group Strategy Director Jolene D’Souza to chat about the winning campaign ‘The Last Performance’ with Partners Life.

Demonstrating a deep understanding of consumer insights and a penchant for collaboration, Special’s work ‘The Last Performance’ in collaboration with Partners Life, received Golds in the Consumer Services, Best Use of Content, and Best Use of Insight categories, as well as a Silver for Creative Media Idea, and most importantly the overall Best in Show Award at the recent 2023 Beacon Awards.

Working with a category that is historically difficult to get people to take notice of and think about such as life insurance, the campaign hangs on Special’s decision to target an audience that had already signed up to thinking about death by watching murder mystery drama series ‘The Brokenwood Mysteries’.

“We always have this saying where we challenge ourselves to make sure that everything that goes out the door is special. For this particular campaign, that’s where it began,” says D’Souza.

The main attribute behind this piece of work, however, is teamwork across all involved parties, she adds.

“From the teamwork at Special, to Partners Life , our South Pacific Pictures, it was totally cohesive in terms of how passionate everyone was across the board.”

With the project being in the works for a long time, Fedyszyn puts its success down to coming together in a purposeful way, as well as having an ambitious, innovative and brave client who put a lot of trust into the agency over the two years.

Chief Customer Officer at Partners Life, Kris Ballantyne, says they loved the pitch from the very beginning.

“We loved the creative territory when it first got pitched to us, but we also thought that it may be impractical to execute. It was one of those things that sounded great on paper, but we weren’t sure how we could land this right. For us, it was not giving up on a territory we liked the idea of. We must stick with it and be brave.”

Fedyszyn says this is testament to how strong Partners Life is with its creative ambitions and “also how innovative they are and they stick by their values as well”.

She adds that the work wouldn’t have been possible without the level of partnership and collaboration they had with South Pacific Pictures, the production company behind Brokenwood Mysteries.

“A lot of trust had to be built there. It’s not easy to pull off and it wouldn’t have been possible without their trust, their openness and their enthusiasm to get the best product out possible.” 

D’Souza echoes this, saying the work was disruptive in the sense that it disrupted the market but was purposefully not disruptive of the audience’s viewing.

“It doesn’t behave like a traditional ad. It’s also quite unexpected for the life insurance or insurance category in general. It is fairly provocative in nature in that, one, we’re using dead people to advertise life insurance and you don’t really see that at all. Death is a pretty confronting topic, but it was something that was quite central to how this whole campaign came to life.”

But it’s not just the awards that recognised this campaign’s success. There are statistics to back up its effectiveness.

The importance of having life insurance went up by 12 percentage points from pre-campaign levels, while brand awareness for Partners Life went up six percentage points and consideration for Partners Life as an insurance provider went up by five percentage points.

“It was a really good campaign for everyone and the client was super happy with the outcome,” says D’Souza. “Those are quite hard metrics to shift, especially when it comes to anything to do with financial services, people always just turn off.”

As for the awards, they are just the icing on the cake according to Fedyszyn and are “a nice acknowledgement to everyone involved”.

“The work itself makes it worth it but I think being acknowledged by your peers is just such a nice nod at the end of all of it.”

To read more about the outstanding thinking behind the 2023 Beacon Awards winners click here.

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