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Hiscox head of US comms talks creating content when 'literally zero people' want to watch an insurance video


By Minda Smiley, Reporter

November 12, 2015 | 3 min read

When UK insurance firm Hiscox expanded its small business insurance offerings to US about five years ago, the company knew it had to market itself in a fresh way if it wanted to compete against established players in the market like Allstate and Nationwide.

Speaking at the Incite Summit East in New York, Hiscox’s head of US communications Hunter Hoffmann discussed how the brand managed to raise awareness with a scripted branded content series called ‘Leap Year’ that tells the story of five people who are fired from their jobs and become entrepreneurs. The series debuted in 2011 on Hulu, YouTube and a number of other outlets.

Besides ‘Presented by Hiscox’ ads before and after the videos, Hoffman said there is no mention of the brand – or even insurance – in the series.

“No one wants to watch an insurance video. Literally zero people want to watch that,” he said, discussing the importance of marketers creating content that either inspires, educates, or entertains instead of pushing brand messaging. Over its two seasons, Hoffmann said it received more than 10 million views. He also said it increased unaided brand awareness by 25 per cent.

While discussing the firm's entrance into the US, Hoffmann said insurance advertising is challenging because it is “a low interest category” among consumers, and advised marketers to “embrace the positive power of risk” especially when trying to gain trust in a new market.

Following the success of 'Leap Year,' the company recently launched another web series called ‘Courageous Leaders’ as part of its ‘Encourage Courage’ brand positioning in the US. The series, distributed in partnership with Vox Media, features successful entrepreneurs like Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley as they discuss the challenges they faced when they were just starting out.

Since launching its ‘Encourage Courage’ effort last year, which also sees the brand partnering with obstacle event Tough Mudder, Hoffman said the firm’s marketing ROI has gone up 108 per cent and that brand awareness has gone from 5 per cent to 20 per cent.


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