Media: Strategy Analysis - Hiscox lifts profile with scare tactics

Brand: Hiscox
Client: Steve Sherlock, head of UK retail marketing, Hiscox
Brief: Raise awareness and increase sales of the Hiscox home insurance
direct brand among mid- and high-net-worth consumers
Target: audience Time-poor professionals living in high-value homes
Budget: £10 million

Media: Tri-Direct
Creative: Inferno


Hiscox, a leading insurer of high-value homes and other specialist risks, moved to be the first specialist insurer to extend its home insurance offering, with a direct consumer brand aimed specifically at mid- and high-net-worth consumers. Hiscox needed to introduce not only a new consumer brand, but also a new product proposition into a highly competitive and commoditised market.

The campaign strategy focused on making higher-end consumers of standard insurance aware of a different class of insurance, better suited to their needs. Hiscox used the insight that this audience sought not only peace of mind but genuine confidence in their insurance.

Accordingly, the integrated campaign was designed to dispel the myth that all insurance is the same, and stress that Hiscox provides uniquely extensive cover. It also aimed to convey the fact that almost 50 per cent of claims paid by Hiscox would not be covered by a standard policy.

Research also revealed that 45 per cent of UK consumers are underinsured with standard policies, and only a quarter of the 2.8 million mid- and high-net-worth households in the UK have a specialist insurance policy. Hiscox needed to capture this demographic by challenging consumers to question whether standard cover is appropriate for their specific requirements.


The campaign included brand awareness TV and national press ads, underpinned by highly targeted consideration activity through direct mail, door-drop and online.

- TV Inferno created a 60-second launch TV commercial which subsequently ran in a 30-second version to make the ads cost-effective. Shot in Prague, the film showed a man leaving his apartment and nonchalantly committing 13 superstition "sins", and ended with 1,000 black cats crossing his path.

- National press Press ads ran in a wide range of national broadsheets. Two sets of ads reflected the TV theme of not needing to be superstitious if covered by Hiscox.

- Direct mail/door-drops The DM campaign featured similar creative to the press campaign; 1.5 million door-drops were also issued to support the TV across a three-month period.

- Online Hiscox's website was redesigned to simplify quotes and online purchasing, with the superstition campaign creative overlaid on to the site. In addition, a viral competition and a microsite offered a prize trip to Prague, where the TV commercial was shot.


Just one month after the launch of the campaign, the Hiscox customer base had increased by 8 per cent. Hiscox's year-on-year data showed that brand awareness was up by 500 per cent, gross written premiums up by 212 per cent, telephone sales up by 233 per cent, online sales up by 516 per cent and quote conversion up by 89 per cent.

Search engine searches on the Hiscox name also increased, this time by 47 per cent. Household insurance demand through Hiscox's traditional broker channel had also increased by 62 per cent.

The direct marketing programme delivered a 185 per cent sales increase on 2005, now accounting for 20 per cent of the overall business. In addition, the competition microsite generated 17,000 entries, with the viral e-mail creating an unusually high response rate of 3 per cent.

The campaign won two awards in the 2006 Direct Response Intelligence Awards: Best Innovation and Best Use of Data and Information in Financial Services.

THE VERDICT - Jon Ghazi media development director, WWAV Rapp Collins Media Leeds

Developing relevant propositions to meet the needs of high-value customers is the right move in any mature market - but it's a necessity in a saturated and commoditised market.

Everyone recognises that price-led acquisition and vanilla products have led to a landscape with little brand loyalty beyond the (discounted) initial 12-month period. Norwich Union will "quote you happy" and Direct Line promises a "good deal better" - and both are backed by tangible product innovations. Hiscox is in a strong position to take this one step further and create a new mainstream premium market.

Using TV (or video, I should say) to establish a clear brand idea and question the extent of cover required is spot-on, and provides the launch-pad for the "superstitions" idea to be extended across other channels.

I also liked the fact that the campaign didn't feel like insurance advertising and all the pieces of luggage seemed to match. Reassuringly, the campaign idea has been woven through the customer journey - searching under "extraordinary insurance cover" places Hiscox top on natural search and top of the paid-for listings under "adequate home insurance cover".

All good stuff, but ...

There is a broad target market - one in ten households - and therefore a risk that potential customers would think it's not for them. The work needed to get people to reassess their needs. Devices could be used to get the audience answering questions about their cover, raising enough doubt to stimulate further enquiry and the opportunity for data capture.

With more than 30,000 financial products on offer in the UK, people often seek advice from individuals (IFAs, savvy friends) or media (, and more could have been done to harness this space. Also, with such tangible claims on tap (45 per cent of customers are underinsured and 50 per cent of claims paid by Hiscox would not be paid by a standard policy), I am surprised there was not a greater role for PR.

Overall, I can't help feeling that this solid effort could have achieved much more with greater collaboration across media, creative, data and PR at the planning stage.

Score: 3 out of 5.