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Selling insurance is tricky. Essentially, as a marketer, you need to make something sound useful — even though your customer really hopes he or she won't ever have to use it. And, all insurance is not created equal. There's insurance you are mandated to carry (like auto insurance in the state of Massachusetts, or health insurance under the Affordable Care Act). Then, there's insurance that is optional but has definitive benefits and enough history that it's easy to understand, like life insurance or homeowner's insurance.

Then, there's vacation insurance. Chances are, someone planning or looking forward to a nice, relaxing vacation, isn't thinking about insurance. But, maybe they should.

This self-mailer from insurance firm AIG acknowledges right up front how prospective customers probably feel about travel insurance. On the art side, a thoughtful model is reasoning, "I don't think I'll need it." But, underneath the piece points out that "Last year, nearly 800,000 flights were cancelled ..."

On the address side, a teaser warns, "You never think it can happen ... until it happens." Again, proof follows: "More than 23 million pieces of luggage are mishandled a year worldwide."

Having both confirmed the objections the audience may have and using facts to get past them, the self-mailer opens as a barrel fold. The overleaf reinforces the idea that while most people don't think they need travel insurance, more will need it than you might realize. It also promotes the product, Travel Guard, its price, a call-to-action and multiple ways to respond.

Opening the four-panel brochure completely, four "nightmares from actual travelers" are presented as mini "case files." Copy like this is practically irresistible (look up the German word "schadenfreude" if you have any doubt). So, we learn of travelers with: a broken elbow, a cancelled connecting flight, a foreign medical emergency, and a missing passport. Each case file resolves and becomes a mini testimonial for Travel Guard. The final panel offers at-a-glance bulleted features and another call-to-action.

For a fairly simple self-mailer, this is a hard-working piece of marketing. But, we have a few issues with it.

First of all, the format isn't logical. The exterior art side is actually upside down if the recipient looks at the address panel first. (This is one of our pet peeves at B Direct, and so many mailers are printed this way.) Meanwhile, both exterior panels are horizontal, but when you open the cover, the entire brochure changes orientation (the overleaf and all interior panels read vertically). So, from address to cover to interior, the prospect has turned the brochure around twice. We strive for engagement, but a smoother journey here would have been better.

The case files are very engaging, but more (and better) visuals would help. The copy's also a little longer than it needs to be.

So our review is mixed. The strategy gets a definite thumbs-up. The execution, a thumbs-down. A tighter, more consistent layout and more visuals, and the piece would be a creative winner.

Senior Moment
Zig When Others Zag

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