Health Insurance speaks to Unum UK's chief marketing officer
As a major campaign to raise consumer awareness about the importance of income protection is launched in the national media, Health Insurance editor David Sawers speaks to the driving force behind it to find out what it might mean for intermediaries and their clients - Unum UK chief marketing officer, Marco Forato (pictured)
So how does a marketing professional from a US company with a background in consumer brands find himself banging the drum for the UK health insurance and protection industry?
Marco Forato, the chief marketing officer of life and disability insurer Unum, laughs. He doesn’t mind admitting to me that he is a little bit surprised to find himself working in the sector. But, like many others in the industry, it has come as a pleasant surprise.
Forato has just launched a major marketing offensive designed to encourage people across the UK to stop and take a serious look at their protection needs – or, as he puts it, realise that “everybody needs a back-up plan”. It’s a challenge that he is enjoying, but one which was perhaps not part of his original career game plan.
In many ways, Forato’s experience echoes that of many of the consumers he is trying to reach. Protection, sadly, is not front of most people’s minds. But in his new role – he has been with Unum in the UK since May of last year – Forato aims to change all that.
“If you had asked me six years ago what the chances are that I would be working for an insurance company doing marketing, I would have said pretty small,” Forato says. “But I am enjoying it and the reason I’m enjoying it is because it’s such a unique opportunity, not only a professional opportunity, but it’s something that is really needed in the marketplace.”
After a number of years at a marketing consulting company looking after brands such as British Gas and Visa, an opportunity arose at Unum in the US that caught Forato’s imagination. And when the Unum board decided to bring in Jack McGarry as UK chief executive to bring a fresh perspective to growing the group risk market in Britain, Forato jumped at the chance to spearhead the marketing function. These types of opportunities, Forato says, do not come along very often.
“We have a unique opportunity in this market which you don’t find quite often in your career, which is the ability to create a market, or to expand a market significantly, while you are working for a well established, top company,” he says. “When you have the opportunity to do something different or expand a market or create a market you are often talking about start-ups.”
So what is the plan? Well, Unum has just kicked off a major consumer awareness campaign in the national media aimed at encouraging individuals to think more about their protection needs and to discuss it with friends, family, colleagues and, crucially, their employer. Unum’s main board in the US has agreed to set aside between £10m-£20m over three years to support it.