Physicians Mutual enlists John Michael Higgins for campaign to relieve insurance anxiety

By Kyle O'Brien | Creative Works Editor

March 12, 2019 | 4 min read

Physicians Mutual Insurance Company has launched a new brand campaign addressing the anxiety experienced by the ever-increasing number of baby boomers transitioning into retirement, and it’s brought in amiable comic actor John Michael Higgins to face a band of monsters and help relieve that anxiety.

The spots feature various “fever dreams” of soon-to-be retirees: late-night zombies calling out the confusion of Medicare (‘Nightmares’), a vampire dentist terrifying a patient with Medicare’s lack of dental coverage (‘Dr. Acula’), and an employee on the verge of retirement, panicking in the cafeteria about his lack of coverage (‘Food Fright’).

“Helping people move past their anxiety and retire with confidence is a passion for us at Physicians Mutual,” said Bob Gunia, senior vice-president at Omaha, Nebraska–based Physicians Mutual.

John Michael Higgins for Physicians Mutual

John Michael Higgins for Physicians Mutual Insurance

The new campaign approach is rooted in a psychological principle that explains how people make purchase decisions. “Cognitive dissonance, the notion of avoiding things that we find unpleasant, can be turned on its head,” said Jake McKenzie, chief executive of Intermark Group, the advertising agency for Physicians Mutual. “By taking a scary task and using humor to eliminate the dread that accompanies it, consumers experiencing the same tension know they’re not alone — and are empowered to act.”

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All these events are observed and reflected on by the company’s new brand spokesperson, Higgins, who spells out the cure for pre-retirement high anxiety and leverages humor to break the tension in stressful retirement planning moments. He helps introduce the scenarios and give sound advice. In one instance, he poses as a cake decorator in a cafeteria as a man has nightmares that he is pantsless in line for food and is teased that his “premiums are showing.”

“Michael is the perfect fit for the campaign and our brand,” Gunia said. “His quick wit and approachable demeanor add so much to the new spots.”

The spots were created by a team led by the psychology-driven agency Intermark Group based in Birmingham, Alabama, that also included members of the Physicians Mutual in-house creative team. The spots were produced by MJZ production company, with director Craig Gillespie at the helm.

“We wanted A-plus production and an A-plus director. MJZ and Craig delivered big-time,” said Intermark’s chief creative officer, Keith Otter. “With multiple Super Bowl commercials under his belt, Craig was the perfect match for us to elevate the Physicians Mutual brand,” Otter added. The spots also feature a new company jingle composed by music house Shindig Music + Sound.

The commercials will air nationally, featuring a launch on TBS’s March Madness coverage. The spots will also appear on the company’s social media and digital platforms.

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Physicians Mutual Insurance Company: Navigating retirement nightmares by Intermark Group

By Physicians Mutual Insurance Company

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