Last year, AGF, the French insurance giant, asked us to launch AGF Direct.

Last year, AGF, the French insurance giant, asked us to launch AGF


We didn’t. Instead, we helped to create a whole new company. And this

happened for one reason only - we introduced our client to


’Cheats, thieves and lying bastards’ was how one punter described the

insurance industry. And he wasn’t alone. We discovered that insurance

companies were reaping the ill-effects of a philosophy that treats

consumers as liabilities (risks) instead of assets.

We found that insurance is basically a promise to help. And that,

perceptually, this promise was seldom kept. So we changed the product.

We guaranteed to authorise claims within 48 hours. If we couldn’t, we’d

settle the claim and give punters their money back.

We changed the name to Help, thereby owning the sector’s generic


Next, Harding and I moved into AGF’s offices in Milton Keynes. We helped

create the corporate philosophy, the corporate ident and telemarketing

scripts. We even helped the underwriters rewrite the forms in something

resembling English. Then we did TV, press, DM and so on.

In the end, the campaign we created didn’t just belong to us, it

belonged to 90 or so people, including consumers.

The work won a number of awards for direct marketing and TV advertising,

but they were unimportant. The company became a top quartile performer

in terms of cost-per-response within 12 months, employees loved working

there and consumers loved the service. They bought a product we’d been

part of, from a company we’d helped create.

And, at the end of the day, that beats having a piece of plastic

gathering dust on your mantelpiece.

Shaun McIlrath and Ian Harding are the joint creative directors of

Impact FCA.

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