Staff Reporters
Jun 17, 2021

Asia-Pacific Power List 2021: Stuart A Spencer, AIA

Spencer has overseen significant growth in brand equity for the insurer, but also pushed it to digitise its offerings to aid consumers and partners.

Asia-Pacific Power List 2021: Stuart A Spencer, AIA
Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers

Stuart A Spencer

Group chief marketing officer
Hong Kong
Member since 2018

As the only CMO from the insurance industry on this listing, Stuart A Spencer, marketing chief for the century-old AIA, has had a busy year keeping his company’s marketing engine purring even as he’s led a brand in a traditionally paper-heavy industry into the digital age. While some of his achievements in this time have been slowly bubbling to fruition, Spencer is also credited for keeping his wits about him and launching a series of measures to transform AIA in the middle of the pandemic into a digital-first insurer. 

As consumers have become more cautious on where and how they invest their money, Spencer has had to ensure AIA’s brand recall remains robust. According to multiple data points, he managed well on this front. Unique visitors to AIA sites increased by 35% in 2020 and Google searches for AIA by name rose more than 20%. In addition, AIA’s brand value increased to $17.8 billion from $16.1 billion, which boosted AIA up 17 places in BrandZ’s Global Top 100 brands ranking.

The Covid-19 pandemic transformed the way that AIA engaged with its customers. In early 2020, AIA’s Global Ambassador David Beckham and partner Tottenham Hotspur FC came together for the first time to film a content series to bring to life AIA’s Purpose of Healthier, Longer, Better Lives. This was filmed in February, before the lockdown, and launched in May. The series generated strong response: 105 million-plus in social reach, 33 million views, 5 million social engagements, 3,200 leads and $1.6 million of PR value.

Just as lockdowns swept across the region, Spencer took the insurer’s marketing online and virtual. However, he managed to pivot many campaigns into virtual successes across APAC. For example, the Agency Million Dollar Round Table virtual conference, recognising top agents saw 20,000 agents logging in to view the online health and wellness event. For this event for its own staff, called AIA Live, the insurer logged 63,000 views across 13 markets, while China’s Healthier, Longer, Better Lives Brand Carnival saw 18,000 new followers and 3.16 million views. And in India the ‘Sehat Ka Rakshakaran’ campaign netted 27,000 views and 16 million impressions.

Amidst all this, Spencer has also been able to keep AIA’s marketing activities buzzing while being empathetic to consumers, partners and employees. For instance, the brand extended free Covid-related cover to more than 25 million policies and provided $1 billion of premium support across 12 markets. Then, internally,  AIA created a Covid-19 ‘hub’ with live FAQs and tips for employees. For external audiences, AIA produced an online health and wellness event also called AIA Live, which reached almost 40 million people across 60 countries. 

Finally, the insurer also released a research initiative, “Healthier Together”, revealing eight key ingredients enabling people to live up to its brand promise of ‘Healthier, Longer, Better Lives’. The study involved in-depth interviews with more than 80 experts from a broad spectrum of professional disciplines and 6000 survey participants across six markets in the region. 

Spencer remains on this list not just for what he has accomplished within his defined remit as CMO, but also for his influence in important areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. As chair of AIA’s ESG Committee, Spencer started a fortnightly virtual event with AIA group chief executive Lee Yuan Siong. Called Tea with the GCE, the event welcomed a group of 12 self-nominated employees to ask questions on topics from diversity to  sustainability to customer-centricity to health and wellness. For Women’s Day, AIA ran its biggest internal and external campaign celebrating its commitment to diversity and the successes of the company’s female employees.

Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers


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