– 21 November 2012

For the longest time in the history of advertising, insurance commercials were awful. The usual fare in this category used to include a washed-up actor (or former television news presenter) droning on about what would happen if one suddenly died and left the wife and children all alone (with the wolves knocking at the door). The punch line would be how Dead Dull Insurance Co was the answer to life, death, the universe and funeral bills.

If you weren’t being destroyed by guilt, you’d be spurred on by fear – that other classic marketing staple. These insurance adverts usually included children and the grim reaper, although Mr Reaper wasn’t always cast in a starring role. The hooded figure with the large, scary sickle was often off camera, but cast a long enough shadow to let you know he was lurking. These ads were more frightening than anything featuring Jason, Freddy or a Jesuit priest called Father Damien Karras.

Thankfully, most thankfully, insurance advertising has become a little more inventive, creative and even funny of late. Financial services companies have (at last) realised that buying insurance is a grudge purchase and that there are better ways of plying this type of product than trying to freak people out.

These days advertisers are doing all manner of things to financial cover. Like those crazy Swedish creatives who threw some cats out of a plane in the hope of selling more insurance for a company called Folksam. Well… I have to come clean here – they didn’t actually turf the felines out of an airplane, they just used super smart technology to make it look as if the kitties were sky-diving.

It will be interesting to see if Floksam release the results of the campaign, because the social media buzz and publicity for that campaign has gone through the roof. This mostly because people thought that the cats were actually sky-diving.

Insurance is a hard sell. News from Forbes magazine in the US shows that despite pouring billions into advertising, fewer consumers are motivated by ads for auto insurance and the market is stagnating there. The exception to the rule is Progressive and Geico (a Berkshire Hathaway company – you know, the massively successfully investment vehicle that Warren Buffet helped build).

Progressive and Geico has a campaign centred around a female robot called Flobot that(together with smart marketing and what must be a great product) is helping the auto insurers to grab customer share from other brands, in what is a mature market.

Back home the smartest insurance advertisers have to be that football club that do the advertising for 1st for Women – Black River FC who seems to be scoring goal after goal for their work. Everyone keeps talking about the campaigns that the agency have been doing for Nando’s but it is the work for the agency’s other clients which show that the Jozi based crew aren’t one-client-creative-wonders.

1st For Women Insurance Fence Print Ad

1st For Women Insurance Suburban Explosion Print Ad

The 1st for Women ads are the perfect campaign for any woman who’s ever happened across Jackass on TV and rolled her eyeballs or knows from second hand experience what happens when her man mixes Mentos and coke together for the first time.

Black River FC’s campaign for 1st for Women is to advertising what Tumi Morake is to stand-up comedy. Flipping funny and each ad just gets funnier each time you see it again, or when you experience a new variation in the campaign. It is one of those brands you watch out for because you’re expecting the ad to make you laugh.

It is incredibly difficult to do funny, particularly when it comes to advertising because the fatigue factor sets in so quickly. The 1st for Women campaign plays off established gender stereotypes, but does so in a way that’s fresh, inventive and outrageously hilarious. Importantly the campaign is 100 per cent local.

What else is there to say but jislaaik! That football club is packed full with slim (vr)ouens.