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Some types of insurance are necessary evils: health, auto, homeowner's. Other policies can be a very hard sell. For example, you're planning a dream vacation. You've saved all year, requested the time off, arranged for a dogsitter, maybe even dieted and exercised to attain a reasonably respectable beach body. When an insurance provider urges you to protect your investment because bad things might happen, it's a bit of a downer.

Okay, it's a major downer.

Marketing for travel insurance has to achieve two things: one, scare you and two, reassure you. The self-mailer we just received from carrier AIG succeeds at both. And, against the odds, it even entertains.

The mail panel has a spot image of a tropical drink and a teaser that reads "You planned the perfect vacation. But stuff happens. Rest easy, we've got your back."

On the art side, there's a photo of a vacationer relaxing in a hammock with an idyllic beachfront scene behind her. A headline reads: "How to make sure you get the vacation you deserve." Both outside panels are branded with AIG's logo and their insurance product Travel Guard.

The piece opens like a book to reveal a two-panel spread. The left side includes promotional copy, asking "Worried about unforeseen travel glitches? We've got this." As they did on the address panel, the company is balancing the bad things that can happen with the confidence and security they offer. Body copy includes about a half dozen quick paragraphs along with bulleted features and benefits. The right side showcases a call to action for "your FREE QUOTE" with a toll-free number, URL, and a suggestion that the recipient ask their travel agent about Travek Guard. There are logos for Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as well. Unfortunately, there is also a solid block of disclaimer and legal copy, which was probably unavoidable (but could, perhaps, have been hidden further inside).

Speaking of inside ... when the piece is unfolded once again, it becomes a mini poster with three "real life" customers talking about their travel nightmares — and, of course, how AIG's Travel Guard saved the day. This is where the piece really becomes interesting and engaging. We are naturally attracted to stories, and thanks to a psychological phenomenon called schadenfreude, love love love to hear about the misfortunes of others.

So, we learn that Rosemary R. and her husband were almost stranded in Italy because of an airline strike in Spain. Although we can think of worse things than being stranded in Italy, Rosemary R. was able to rebook their trip home as planned thanks to ... Travel Guard.

Meanwhile, Robert S. and his wife were having fun in Paris — maybe a bit too much fun, since Robert S. ended up in the ICU. (Sacre bleu!) They were able to receive the care Robert S. needed, new flights home (with inflight oxygen and a nurse), and compensation for all related expenses thanks to ... Travel Guard.

And finally, Diana H. didn't even get to Morocco because she broke her elbow before she was scheduled to leave. She received a full reimbursement check so she could plan a trip when she wasn't such a klutz thanks to ... Travel Guard.

The call to action is repeated after these stories without the requisite and distracting legalese.

Even though the Bs at B Direct are a bit too busy to go on vacation right now, we give this fun and cost-efficient marketing piece an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

What a bon voyage!

 

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