Direct Line’s “Fixer” marketing campaign has recently been shortlisted for an IPA effectiveness award. Mike Campbell, Head of International Effectiveness at Ebiquity spoke with Ann Constantine, Head of Insight & Marketing Effectiveness at Direct Line Group on the campaigns ROI, measurement and impact on consumers.

MC: What was the one big idea that underpinned your campaign? What was the starting point in your strategic thinking?

AC: We wanted to do something more than give the brand a fresh coat of paint – there is a lot of disillusionment with financial services and we knew our message wouldn’t cut through unless it communicated a genuine benefit to consumers. We also knew that to land the message we needed to ‘walk the walk’. That basic insight led to an organisation wide repositioning with customers always being front of mind, which drove improvement throughout the business from contact centres to marketing and proposition development.

We also needed to be clear on who we were talking to. Insurance is a mass market product, but you still need to be clear on who your core audience is. Our target audience is typically time-poor and they value things like simplicity, clarity and efficiency. We found that the message of ‘insurance that simply works’ had universal appeal for our core audience.

With that in mind, the ‘Fixer’ platform starring Harvey Keitel was the perfect fit. The character he plays, Winston Wolf, comes into the story, fixes a problem quickly and efficiently, and then leaves. That’s the relationship people want with their insurer.

MC: The IPA Awards are perhaps best known for being ROI-led and commercially focussed. What role do you think great creative plays in achieving those ends? How do you balance creative and commercial goals in your decision making?

AC: I think it goes without saying that you need both. You can be as scientific and hard-nosed with your marketing investment as you want, but if the creative doesn’t resonate with consumers they won’t buy into your message. I think ‘creative vs. commercially focussed’ is a bit of a false dichotomy – getting the creative right is the commercially focussed thing to do. We see the evidence for this in our research data all the time.   

MC: The most successful brands Ebiquity work with have a culture of ‘continuous improvement’. In your business, what tools do you use to measure success?

AC: Our philosophy is that you need a ‘portfolio approach’ to measuring advertising and marketing effectiveness. If you are overly reliant on one approach you won’t get a well-rounded picture of what works and what doesn’t. We have a rolling ‘test & learn’ program and econometric modelling with Ebiquity, segmented by customer risk and demographics. We also do an ongoing brand survey as well as creative and proposition testing. Last but not least, we have strong in-house capability in the areas of digital tracking and CRM evaluation.

Direct Line Group 2

MC: The process of writing an IPA paper can really help crystallise your understanding of factors behind both success and failure. What did you learn?

AC: It was an interesting process – we really did a lot of soul searching about what had worked and what hadn’t worked over the last few years. I guess the first thing we realised is that we couldn’t rely on just being the big ‘cutting out the middle-man’ brand, at least not to the same extent as we did in the mid 80’s. It’s still a great brand position to take, but it’s not enough on its own.  This goes back to our customer-centric strategy – we needed a message and a creative vehicle that communicated a real benefit to consumers and I think ‘insurance that simply works’ and the ‘Fixer’ campaign did that.

MC: Any advice for future entrants to the IPA awards?

AC: Make sure you leave plenty of time and that the project is well resourced. You need to remember that it’s not just about facts and figures, but telling a great story and getting all relevant stakeholders on board with the narrative.