Unum follows Aviva to Downton Abbey

Highlight of £15m consumer education campaign

Unum is launching a major national TV advertising campaign to promote income protection (IP), following in Aviva's footsteps by securing coveted spots during ITV's Downton Abbey.

The first advert will be screening this Sunday with adverts also appearing during ITV News and the channel's DCI Banks and during Channel 4's Location Location Location, Grand Designs, Secret Millionaire and their screenings of feature films.

The adverts [screenshot pictured] are the most high profile aspect of Unum's three-year £15m "consumer education campaign", which was launched at the beginning of the year and has included activity in The Guardian newspaper. They will feature people with "remarkable and niche talents" to explain what income protection is and why consumers should purchase it.

Tim Jackson, head of marketing strategy, Unum UK, said: "We are hoping these adverts will create a significant buzz amongst consumers about the importance of having a back-up plan to protect their income. Our consumer awareness campaign highlights the significance of such protection and the adverts aim to start conversations amongst consumers with their friends, family and – importantly – their employers. This is not so much about Unum advertising their products and more that Unum, along with a growing number of insurers, is ensuring consumers are aware of the need for protection, therefore growing the market as a whole."

Unum's adverts follow rival insurer Aviva's "idents" - mini ads - screened throughout Downton Abbey, which tell the story of a man who is unable to work following an accident but discovers he is covered by an Aviva IP policy.

Alan Lakey of IFA firm Highclere Financial Services has mixed views on the impact of the Aviva campaign.

"As the message is staggered with the finale being the message 'he was insured with Aviva' it provides for two types of viewer response," he said. "They watch the saga unfolding with interest to see the ending, or they become bored and pay little interest after the first or second brief advert.

"When I saw it I knew what I would be watching so I didn’t have to wonder about the message but it did occur to me that the average viewer may well have initially thought that it was about car or motorbike insurance or something similar.

"It may well create some interest as might the Unum adverts which are going in the same slot this weekend. In truth I believe that these products are sold and not bought. Partly due to the complexity of the product design and partly because many consumers find it easier to ignore potential problems in the hope that nothing will ever happen."

Peter Chadborn of Essex-based IFA Plan Money welcomed Aviva's advertising as a means of opening discussions with clients.

"I don’t think it will lead more people to take out IP, just as I don't think the previous one with Paul Whitehouse would prompt people to get life cover," he said. "It is just about raising awareness.

"What I like about them is that fact that it is a great conversation opener to start with clients. Because then you understand very quickly in the process what a potential client's perspective is on protection in general and IP."

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