Unum is to launch what is believed to be the first ever direct to consumer TV advertising campaign communicating the benefits of protection products to the public.
The TV advertising campaign is set to start in January 2011, and forms part of a broader marketing strategy that will see the insurer raising its profile across consumer and trade media. The move marks a shift in emphasis by the new management, headed by the new CEO of Unum UK Jack F McGarry, towards growing market share through the acquisition of genuine new business.
McGarry, previously senior vice president of benefits and risk management for the company’s US unit, took over from Susan Ring in July.
Heading up the new marketing drive is Marco Forato, chief marketing officer, who joined the UK operation in June, having previously held the role of vice president, marketing strategy and communication for Unum US.
The strategy to grow the market will also include the developments of propositions that will be affordable to members of staff on lower incomes.
Unum sees the voluntary benefits channel, the fastest growing sector of group risk in the US, as a potential growth area in the UK. But core to that growth is the development of the level of understanding of the product amongst end users, says Forato.
Protection intermediaries are likely to welcome the move, after the failure last year of the industry-wide Consumer Protection Insurance Engagement Campaign to raise sufficient funds to take plans for generic protection TV advertisements forward.
Forato says: “We are starting a comprehensive advertising campaign in the New Year, to include TV advertisements as well as trade and consumer press. People understand their pension benefits and their healthcare benefits, but they do not understand their protection benefits. We see these as equally important and so it is time to educate the public about them.”
Matthew Lawrence, senior consultant at Aon says: “Anything that raises the profile of group risk benefits and underlines the importance of protection benefits has to be a good thing. But it will be interesting to see how they target their buyers. I am sceptical as to whether mass marketing to the public is likely to lead to employees asking their employers to offer group risk benefits, but I hope to be proved wrong.”
Paul Burt, director at Xafinity Consulting says: “While Grid has been doing good work in raising the profile of group risk benefits in the industry, at some point there needs to be a shift in focus to the end user. This initiative from Unum has got to be a good thing.”