Why Axa is focusing on mental health, not insurance policies, to build its brand
Axa has unveiled its first major ad campaign since signing on as sponsor of Liverpool FC Women’s team. The work highlights the importance of sharing and mental resilience as it looks to demonstrate its commitment to improving people’s lives.
Instead of focusing on policies, price or undercutting its competitors, the insurance brand has spent the past two years showcasing the value it adds to customers lives – a strategy that marketing boss Karen Robson says it working out well.
“Over the last three years we've been looking to differentiate,” she told The Drum, saying that the Axa research fund – the insurers scientific, philanthropic which funds projects across health, socio-economics, environment and tech – had been pivotal in helping it identify areas to focus on.
“Then the opportunity came up for the sponsorship of Liverpool FC and we wanted to behave in a way that differentiated us when it comes to sponsorship too,” she added.
On the back of the partnership, it’s unveiled ‘Sharing Makes Us Stronger’, an integrated push from Fallon London which looks to empower customers to speak up about their mental health, directing them to resources on Axa’s website, where customers who are making difficult claims can access counsellors 24/7.
Robson said Axa wanted to surprise customers with the “unexpected” approach to sponsorship: “So we wove that into the brief and told Fallon we wanted to focus on a big societal issue, and we felt that mental resilience was a good area for us to focus on.”
Based on the insight that around one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, the hero ad at the heart of the drive tells the stories of four individuals who found relief in being open with friends and loved ones about their mental health. Among them are Aiysha Humphreys, a spoken word poet who scripted the ad and Liverpool FC women’s captain Sophie Bradley-Auckland.
Supporting content has seen the insurer make use of its access other high-profile Liverpool FC’s talent including Niamh Charles and Becky Jane, who discuss their own journeys in the football industry.
The campaign calls on people to change their mindset to prompt conversations about mental health and encourage people to share their stories. It will run across TV, social media, online and in print.
“It’s all about empowerment,” Robson explained. “We want people to feel confident in sharing their thoughts and fears and feel that in doing so they are actively building their mental resilience.”
As well as running its own mental wellness initiatives, the business has been working with Liverpool FC to train teams and staff as “mental health first aiders” who are qualified to help guide people facing their own struggles.
In a world where the likes of Amazon and Google are armed with data and ready to compete with traditional insurance providers, Robson recognises the competitor threat as something to be taken seriously.
“We’d never be complacent, we’re very conscious of those business and everything they’re doing,” she said.
To stand out in the crowded market, Axa has been returning its brand proposition to a more purpose-driven one and driving innovation internally via a group-level innovation hub.
Last year, it launched a series of documentaries fronted by comedian and presenter Sue Perkins which highlighted its role in developing fresh technology and support for healthcare practitioners.
In the first half of 2019, parent company Axa XL’s revenues for the year jumped 4% to reach €58bn, showing the renewed strategy is yielding fruit.