David Blecken
Oct 27, 2014

AXA aims for closer connection with consumers

ASIA-PACIFIC – AXA bills its new campaign, ‘Born to Protect’, as an effort to become more active in the digital space and thereby more connected to the needs of its customers.

The 'Born to Protect' campaign presents the experiences of AXA employees in dealing with claims
The 'Born to Protect' campaign presents the experiences of AXA employees in dealing with claims

Publicis for Hong Kong and Singapore launched the work in mid-October. It incorporates real-life stories around insurance, as told by AXA employees, a community page on Facebook, and perhaps most notably an application designed to help people improve their driving skills.

Paul Bennett, AXA’s global brand director, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that AXA aimed to position itself as “a company that proves it’s worth trusting”.

“Many insurance companies will talk about the things they would like to do, but our positioning is of giving concrete proof that we do the things we say. We wanted to demonstrate how what we do day-to-day is going beyond the expectations of customers.”

It is no secret that the perception of insurance companies has plunged in recent years, but Bennett talks of raising AXA above that by “translating its noble purpose”—that is, to help people get back on their feet after the trauma of an accident or other life-changing experience.

“Historically [our marketing] has been very visual but more and more it needs to be about the experience the customer has, about utilising the brands,” said Bennett. “For many brands in the sector there is distance between the company and the consumer. We are aiming to close that proximity between AXA and the general public.”

“There is mistrust in financial services,” admitted Frederic Tardy, AXA Group’s global chief marketing and distribution officer, explaining the decision to feature real AXA staff in its marketing content. “People are fed up with traditional corporate campaigns so we think it’s important to have a realistic human touch.”

That can only go so far in a TVC though, and that is why AXA is keen to emphasise its online services and in particular its ‘Drive’ application, which monitors an individual’s driving habits with the aim of highlighting their weaknesses and encouraging them to become a safer driver. While the vast majority of branded applications fail, it has seen strong uptake, with more than 600,000 downloads.

Tardy believes typical insurance marketing does not engage with its target consumers enough, and said the application was an effort to remedy that. The ‘Drive’ app is based on statistics that show car accidents as on of the main causes of death in emerging markets. Tardy presents the service as an altruistic move on the part of AXA—but it is also of course a smart move to increase brand awareness among people who might not see much distinction between big insurers. “We really want to help improve driving, not just for AXA customers,” Tardy said.

He added that AXA’s marketing department is closely involved in service innovation. While most initiatives are led from the US, there are examples from Asia too. Tardy says AXA is developing a direct online sales platform in India, and that it recently launched an online cancer-care service in Malaysia to promote early detection of the disease. He noted that central to any such innovation has been the removal of barriers between marketing and IT within the company.

“You have to make sure that when you build a strategy you have a frictionless system—you have to align strategy between departments,” he said.

AXA is among the companies presenting at Financial Services Marketing on 6 November in Hong Kong.

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