Aviva's CMO on why disruption needs CEO support and the brand's digital journey

Jan Gooding, the group brand director of Aviva, has lifted the lid on the "radical" brand transformation journey undertaken by the insurance brand to arrive its "Good thinking" positioning.

Aviva's Jan Gooding
Aviva's Jan Gooding

Speaking at last week’s Media360 event, Gooding said that the "laser focus" of acquiring new car insurance customers had meant the brand had fallen behind in "creating customer affection and loyalty".

The catalyst for change, said Gooding, was the appointment of CEO Mark Wilson in November 2012. She said Wilson "wanted ideas to show we were a modern, digital insurer around the world".

"He recognised that brands that succeed today, and more importantly in the future, will be those that don’t just put customers first but make huge and positive impact on society at large," she added.

"In my view, for your brand disruption to feel authentic it has to play from the group CEO down or it will only live in your advertising and not in the culture of the organisation.

"For a financial services brand this is particularly true. It was therefore vital for our success that we had a group CEO who wanted to support radical change."

The birth of ‘Good thinking’

In partnership with lead agency Adam & Eve/DDB, Aviva launched its "Good thinking" positioning. The first campaign under the new strategy showcased its ‘Drive now’ app, which rewards safer drivers with discounts on their premiums, by following the fortunes of a family competing to be the safest driver.

"The change for us at Aviva has been absolutely dramatic in our marketing model," said Gooding. "It’s a complete reframing of the way we’re engaging with customers.

"We’ve moved from the traditional tried and tested – and frankly effective – model of paid-for TV broadcasting and paid-for talent designed to stimulate demand which we then harvested through search to an experience-led approach using our own digital assets to engage customers in a continuous conversation.

"It’s enabled us as a brand for the first time to be absolutely immersed in peoples’ lives alongside them and encouraging them into a dialogue," she commented.

Reflecting on the success of the repositioning, Gooding said: "The results have been absolutely outstanding. In a market where quotes overall are down we’re significantly up by 8%.

"Overall engagement figures are terrific and we’re starting to see an early shift in brand perception. We’ve received more downloads in the first three months of this campaign than the previous three years."

As well as the UK, Aviva has launched "Good thinking" in Poland and will also roll it out to France India and Singapore.

Gooding revealed that becoming a "digital first" advertiser had led to Aviva investing "more in marketing not less".

"‘Digital first’ is one of those industry buzzwords that could be interpreted in many different ways but for us it’s simply understanding people. People have changed their behaviour, their expectations have changed but the fundamentals of marketing have not changed," she concluded.

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