Media: Strategy Analysis - Starcom spreads the word for Aviva

Brand: Aviva Client: Sally Shire, marketing director, Aviva Brief: Give meaning to the Aviva brand by creating Forward Thinking branded content Target audience: Financial influencers Budget: £7.5 million AGENCIES Media: Starcom Creative: RSA, HandG, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

STRATEGY

Aviva is the newly created parent brand for the global savings, investments and insurance company CGNU, the world's sixth-biggest insurer. Few, however, recognise the name and even fewer understand what it stands for.

Aviva briefed Starcom to give greater meaning to the brand without selling product at this stage. The goal was to establish it among the most discerning of audiences - European business opinion-formers - as the most forward-thinking company.

The aim was to get "financial influencers" to see that they and Aviva shared a common attitude to knowledge - an insatiable appetite for information and knowledge sharing.

Standard advertising or simple sponsorship could not achieve this. So Starcom initiated Aviva Forward Thinking content, creating places in media - Knowledge Platforms - where information could be gained and then exchanged.

EXECUTION

- TV: Starcom briefed CNBC and RSA to produce five short films profiling inspirational forward thinkers. These ranged from John Talbott, who created a complete eco-village, to Isola Akay, who runs revolutionary urban youth projects in deprived communities. CNBC ran the "Forward Thinking" films for free over a six-month period. Aviva only paid for the sponsorship credits. CNBC also produced and aired a 30-minute "making of" documentary free of charge.

- Print: Starcom briefed The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and The Economist to create regular sections on the future of subjects such as work, transport, lifestyles and finance.

- Online and PDA: These titles also directed readers to online Knowledge Platforms microsites, where the TV vignettes were streamed. Users voted on the issues raised and shared opinions via discussion boards. Starcom also created a Forward Thinking channel for PDA.

- Outdoor: Starcom aimed to use outdoor as if it were a content channel, with work only appearing where Aviva could own the entire environment of critical business travel hubs across Europe's largest financial centres. In London, this included platform dominations, the Bank travelator and sponsorship of Eurostar departures.

- Other: Starcom worked to weave Aviva into social and economic debate - the insurance company became a broadcast sponsor of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Aviva personnel attended, and all delegates had DVDs waiting for them in their hotel rooms.

RESULTS

All key measures from awareness to critical opinion statements have seen dramatic improvements:

- Advertising awareness up by 78 per cent;

- "Aviva communicates well with its stakeholders" up by 100 per cent;

- "Forward thinking company" up by 31 per cent;

- "Leader in its field" up by 41 per cent.

More than 100,000 of these time-poor people have chosen to engage and share their thoughts, with more than 30,000 using the PDA channel alone.

Click-throughs were 900 per cent above business-to- business/corporate norms.

THE VERDICT

MARK SHERWOOD executive planning director, Rocket

Media planning has moved on more than most other disciplines in the past few years and well done to everyone out there, be they media owner, agency or client for making this happen. One of my concerns though is that, as we sprint ahead, we sometimes forget to take a step back and think about what the people we want to reach actually want to hear.

We talk about helping brands "stand out" and we congratulate ourselves when we make campaigns "unavoidable", but I'm not sure the great British public shares our delight at these achievements. Let's be honest, people don't want to be bombarded with advertising, which they are increasingly able to filter out.

So what can we do about this? Well, rather than advertising at people, we should communicate with them instead. On paper, this sounds easy; in reality, it's not. For not only do you have to get some sort of dialogue going, but you've also got to do it in a way that is directly relevant to the brand and in a way that enables you to achieve tangible campaign objectives.

But it's worth the effort because, when you get it right, it's a very powerful thing. It allows brands to create links with consumers above and beyond anything you could expect from the more traditional advertising model.

This campaign more than achieves this. The Knowledge Platforms strategy provided Aviva with permission to start a dialogue with an ad-cynical audience. The execution of the strategy was also spot on, from the short films and the online microsites, right the way through to the sponsorship of the World Economic Forum. What added further strength to the campaign was that they also managed to hand a bit of control over to their target audience, so they could have conversations among themselves with Aviva as the facilitator.

I'm now meant to say how I would do things differently, or what else I would do to add to the campaign. I'm splitting hairs, but one thing seems a little off-strategy and that is the outdoor, which looks like it's been added to achieve an extra bit of awareness, rather than anything knowledge based. Other than that, though, I wouldn't do anything differently at all. Great work.

SCORE: 4 out of 5.

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