Magazine article Marketing

Star Performer

Magazine article Marketing

Star Performer

Article excerpt

On meeting Steve Wigzell, marketing director of Eagle Star, it would be easy to believe that you were about to discuss London's leading eateries with a notorious critic; he could be Michael Winner's brother. But no, we are going to talk about insurance.

A less glamorous world it may be, but Wigzell is about as happy as a marketer at a major insurance company can get. He has just received the board's approval for a set of proposals that will, he says, shake the company up from top to bottom and do what most of its rivals don't do -- namely, give consumers what they want.

Three years of market research and the recognition that non-traditional insurers such as Sainsbury's, Tesco and Virgin have changed the face of the industry, have led Wigzell to develop a strategy that requires every member of staff, from office junior to the finance director, to recite the mantra `The customer is king'.

The strategy, which will be launched as a pilot in the Central TV region next month, involves retraining every member of staff who comes in contact with customers, rewriting almost all product literature, redesigning the corporate logo, creating a new company proposition in the form of `The no-nonsense insurance company' and developing a through-the-line campaign.

Wigzell, 45, has already earned something of a reputation for challenging the conventions of the insurance industry.

Not for him the weekly cycle of press ads banging on about insurance with added peace of mind. He was the first marketer to introduce Air Miles as an incentive to insure against damage to home and property and is also notorious for approving a TV campaign which admitted that, well yes, insurance is really boring.

The relaunch of the Eagle Star brand is the biggest challenge Wigzell says he has faced in his career. Although the company, which is the UK's fourth largest insurer, has competed successfully on price with its newer rivals, its operations have lagged behind in terms of presentation and customer care. The point is illustrated by the fact that, for five years before he joined in 1996, the company operated without a dedicated senior marketer.

Wigzell's challenge is even more apparent, because having spent almost 20 years as a corporate planner for Allied Dunbar and BAT Financial Services, he is not a marketer by trade. If he has a weakness it would certainly be lack of marketing experience. …

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