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Aviva: 2014 IPA Effectiveness Awards Shortlist Interview

The ‘Chameleon’ campaign, featuring comedian Paul Whitehouse playing different characters, delivered flexible messaging and a revenue ROI of £4.41 for every £1 spent.


Q1. When and why did you decide to launch a campaign?

JL: “The campaign was launched in 2009, before I worked on the business.  Having changed the company’s name from Norwich Union to Aviva, and in the face of the attack on the direct insurance business by high-spending price comparison websites, it was essential to win the kind of fame for the brand which could keep us top of mind.”

Q2. When and how did you first know that you had been successful?

JL: “From the tracking study data, the first month did not get off to a good start.  Levels of recall of the advertising were not bad, but liking was low, as was attribution. 

“Three months in, people seemed to have “learnt” how the campaign worked – that Paul Whitehouse was going to play a range of characters, and unlike a traditional celebrity campaign, no single one was “the new face of Aviva".  Attribution and liking both improved markedly, and have never come down again.”

Q3. What was the biggest challenge in demonstrating the effectiveness of your work?

JL: “The fact that the overall market is being squeezed by price comparison websites – we were constantly having to argue that relatively stable performance was actually remarkably good in the circumstances.”

Q4. How did this campaign compare to previous campaigns by the brand and competitors?

JL: “Far more populist, and far more long-running than anything done before by Aviva.  The competitive environment is full of “campaign vehicles”. 

“Our approach gave us similar levels of recognition, liking and attribution as the “shouty” car insurance space, but also the flexibility to do emotional ads like ‘Dead Dad’ for the Life part of the business.”

Q5. What lessons did this campaign teach you?

JL: “If it’s working, keep going, but you can always fine tune.”

Q6. What were the low points/high points of this campaign?

JL: “I was pleased with the way we made the selection of characters more strategic – we seemed to have particularly struck a chord with the money-saving dad in ‘Astute’, who reflects the way a lot of people have found themselves responding to the recession.

“Low points are when we all agree we are doing the wrong thing by trying to put more than one message into an execution – but we have to do it, and then everyone is a bit disappointed by the results.”

Q7. What would you do differently if you did this campaign over again? 

JL: “I would have planned from the beginning to bring the most effective executions back in later years.”

Q8. If you could have worked on one, other campaign entered into the IPA Effectiveness Awards over the years which would it be, and why?

JL: “Cadbury’s Gorilla (Silver – 2010).  No two ways about it, it was the most talked about ad in the country (I mean by real people) at the time.”

Last updated 08/09/2014

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