Magazine article Marketing

Insurance: Churchill Stalled by Clunes

Magazine article Marketing

Insurance: Churchill Stalled by Clunes

Article excerpt

The insurer has axed TV actor Martin Clunes and must plot a fresh ad strategy, writes Kim Benjamin.

Insurance provider Churchill, part of the Direct Line Group being spun off by RBS, announced last month that it had ditched former Men Behaving Badly star Martin Clunes as the face of its advertising, following his disqualification from driving. The actor reportedly racked up the maximum 12 points allowed on his driving licence, having been penalised for four speeding offences.

The brand had worked with him for almost a year, as it sought to position itself as a 'dependable' insurance provider. Clunes' appearance alongside Churchill, the brand's animated nodding-dog character, established a popular double act.

The most recent ad, created by agency WCRS as part of a pounds 50m campaign, featured Clunes riding a Triumph motorbike through the countryside, with the dog in a sidecar.

Churchill marketing director Amanda Walker said last year that using Clunes for its marketing campaigns gave the brand an air of credibility and trust, as consumers had 'grown up' with the actor, whom she described as a household name.

The insurer has gone through a similar situation before. Several years ago, it dropped Vic Reeves from its advertising, following the comedian's arrest and charges being laid against him for drink-driving.

Churchill has no ads starring Clunes currently airing, and says it is moving forward with a fresh advertising strategy.

However, in light of the sudden departure of its well-known star, how should Churchill rethink its creative approach? Will the fact that Clunes has been banned from driving make the brand appear less reputable and trustworthy in consumers' eyes?

Marketing asked Hilary Large, head of marketing at Betfred.com and a former head of marketing at Littlewoods, and Craig Mawdsley, joint chief strategic officer at ad agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

CHURCHILL STATS

Pounds 77.6m - Profit in 2011, reversing a pounds 53.3m loss in 2010

48% - 2011 net earned premium accounted for by its personal motor book

Source: Companies House

DIAGNOSIS

Two industry experts on whether Churchill should rethink its approach to advertising

HILARY LARGE, HEAD OF MARKETING, BETFRED.COM, AND FORMER HEAD OF MARKETING, LITTLEWOODS

Celebrities as brand ambassadors can offer fantastic brand alignment. …

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