BRAND SPEND ANALYSIS - Direct Line is one of the UK’s best known brands thanks to a big TV budget

Background: Direct Line is one of the UK’s biggest success stories. It became Britain’s largest private motor insurer just ten years after its launch in 1985. It is already the seventh biggest home insurer and continues to chip away at the profits of non-direct providers of financial services.

Background: Direct Line is one of the UK’s biggest success stories.

It became Britain’s largest private motor insurer just ten years after

its launch in 1985. It is already the seventh biggest home insurer and

continues to chip away at the profits of non-direct providers of

financial services.



Direct Line has expanded its product range into mortgages, loans, credit

cards and life and investment products. It recently announced a pounds

50 million motoring e-commerce venture that will sell cars and related

accessories.



The company’s philosophy is to offer consumers good-value financial

products over the phone and, increasingly, the web. This approach

certainly seems to have paid off, with Direct Line’s six call centres

handling more than 15 million calls a year and selling a motor insurance

policy every six seconds.



Branding: Direct Line has enjoyed huge marketing benefits from its

long-running, high impact TV ads featuring a red telephone on wheels.

The icon and its associated jingle were designed to evoke feelings of

friendliness, fun, innovation and rescue. It has established high levels

of recall among consumers - Millward Brown reported 95 per cent

awareness in 1997. The brand also won the ITV Brand of the Year award in

1994.



An important aspect of Direct Line’s branding is its positioning as a

’consumer champion’. The insurer has run advertising and PR campaigns

fighting everything from compulsory home insurance forced on homeowners

by mortgage lenders, to ’rip off’ rates on credit cards, loans and

mortgages.



This strategy is reflected in Direct Line’s advertising themes and has

resulted in favourable PR and endorsement of its products by consumer

watchdogs.



Media mix: Direct Line is one of the UK’s top 100 advertisers and spent

pounds 22.8 million in the year to February 2000. Well over half of its

spend (pounds 13.2 million) went on TV, using a total of 102 stations,

94 per cent of them terrestrial. The company also uses direct mail

extensively (pounds 5.8 million).



Key advertising campaigns in the past 12 months included new TV work

promoting mortgages and personal loans in July. The launch work for

DirectLine.com appeared in January this year, and new spots for motor

insurance launched in mid-February on various Astra channels.



Agencies: Direct Line uses MediaCom TMB for its media buying and

planning, and Mortimer Whitaker O’Sullivan for its creative. It has not

yet decided whether to use a new agency or the incumbent for its motor

e-commerce venture. The original red telephone ads were devised by its

former agency Davis Wilkins.



Trends: Direct Line’s trustworthy image makes the internet an ideal

distribution channel. Its website already offers online quotation and

purchase of a range of products and the recent pounds 50 million

investment in the motor e-commerce venture indicates that the web is

central to its future plans.





Research by AC Nielsen MMS tel: 01344-627553 www.mediamonitoring.com



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