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