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CREATIVE STRATEGY: Aviva gives big, bad insurance a fresh face

We live in the age of "posting" and "tagging", and Aviva's new testimonial-based campaign cleverly rides such trends, writes Simon Kershaw.

Aviva: gives big, bad insurance a fresh face

Aviva: gives big, bad insurance a fresh face

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You may not be on Facebook yourself, but you’ll be aware that millions of people feel perfectly comfortable uploading their most personal photographs for hundreds, even thousands, of others to see. (I should know, I’m one of them.)

It is a curious phenomenon, because, as a recent survey revealed, people (particularly young people) are prepared to trust Facey with much more of their private and confidential information than, say, the NHS.

This thought struck me as my partner and I were browsing through the second-hand bookstalls by the BFI on London’s South Bank and happened upon the current Aviva campaign.

It had the look of something "big". We’d already seen the giant hanging posters in Waterloo Station. Now we were intrigued by the mono portraits on yellow backgrounds that covered an installation in front of the National Theatre.

Dead simple. Shot of individual. Line/address "". But what’s it all about? Drawn closer to the installation, we found an electronic display where you could listen to the stories behind the photographs.

Now I get it. As we all know, insurance is at best dull, at worst, painful. Not according to Aviva. They’re claiming, in essence, that they’re putting people before policies, humanity ahead of small print, and empathy in place of bureaucracy.

It’s bold. But they do have the stories to back it up – from customers and from their own staff around the world.

My own favourite was a bloke in Bath who had his beloved Defender nicked. Two and a half years’ searching later, he found it on eBay, repainted and replated.

After informing the police, he told Aviva, who now technically owned the vehicle. They gave it back to him. For nothing.

Some of the other stories are quite affecting – as they involve people at moments of extreme distress.

I have to admire the work that has gone into this campaign even more than the campaign itself.

When someone tells me that we have to use "testimonials", my heart sinks, because usually they’re utter tripe – bland statements with no personality. But Aviva has scoured the globe for the very best examples of remarkable customer service.

The strategy is hardly original. And the execution may not win creative awards. But the campaign works because of its scale and commitment. It’s certainly involving – as you’re invited to upload your own piccy and see yourself on a landmark building. Cool.

This campaign cleverly rides on the back of two trends – the individual as self-publicist (v. Facebook comment above) and the individual seeking their 15 minutes of fame (v. any TV reality show).

Where it goes from here, I’m not sure. But it’s certainly the best work out of Aviva for a long time, possibly ever.

Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones.

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