Search­ing for the win-win-win

Sov­er­eign’s brand plat­form ‘Life. Take Charge’ was about mov­ing away from sim­ply be­ing a health in­sur­ance am­bu­lance at the bot­tom of the cliff to be­com­ing a com­pany that could help make Ki­wis health­ier. And to achieve that goal, it worked with Bauer to co

New Zealand Marketing - - In Association With Bauer -

In an ef­fort to at­tract a younger mar­ket to its range of life and health in­sur­ance prod­ucts, in­crease the na­tion’s hap­pi­ness and save the com­pany some money on claims, life and health in­sur­ance provider Sov­er­eign re­branded around the line ‘Life. Take Charge’ in late 2014. And rather than just talk about it­self, it aimed to cre­ate health­ier Ki­wis by equip­ping them with a range of prac­ti­cal tools.

Its above the line cam­paign in­cluded a re­con­di­tioned van (AKA the Ac­tion Unit) trav­el­ling around the coun­try dis­pens­ing help­ful ad­vice and prod­ucts and am­bas­sadors Pua Ma­ga­siva and Ni­cola Smith helped spread the mes­sage. But Sov­er­eign wanted to ex­tend the cam­paign fur­ther, so it briefed a num­ber of me­dia own­ers to cre­ate con­tent around health and well-be­ing.

“It was one of those group briefs, where ev­ery­one’s in the same room and no­body wants to ask ques­tions,” laughs Bauer’s com­mer­cial man­ager Paul Gardiner.


In­creas­ingly, brands here and around the world have seen the value in pro­vid­ing util­ity for con­sumers, rather than sim­ply run­ning ads, so Gardiner says Sov­er­eign aimed to “put con­sumers’ health in their own hands” and in so do­ing move up the ranks of New Zealand’s most pre­ferred health in­sur­ance com­pa­nies.

Be­ing seen as a leader in health and well-be­ing is eas­ier said than done, how­ever. It takes a con­certed ef­fort over a long pe­riod of time (and com­plete buy-in from the or­gan­i­sa­tion). But Gardiner says work­ing with a pub­lisher that has an es­tab­lished rep­u­ta­tion and an ex­ist­ing au­di­ence in that space is a short cut to gain­ing cred­i­bil­ity.

Still, in a world filled with too much con­tent, cre­at­ing more of it could be seen as slightly counter-in­tu­itive. Of course, whether con­tent gets con­sumed de­pends on the qual­ity of it—and the dis­tri­bu­tion strat­egy—and the most in­ter­est­ing part of the cam­paign for Gardiner was that Bauer en­sured the con­tent would be good by con­duct­ing two re­ally big health and well-be­ing sur­veys through its own re­search pan­els. It then used the in­sights from those sur­veys as the ba­sis of the orig­i­nal con­tent that ap­peared in print.

“We pitched the in­sights to the var­i­ous edi­to­rial teams, they de­vel­oped the sto­ries off the back of those in­sights and Sov­er­eign was quoted as the re­search provider.”

Bauer was able to seg­ment the au­di­ence and run be­spoke con­tent in print that was rel­e­vant to each ti­tle, whether pre­mium brands like North & South and Metro, or a mass mar­ket weekly like Woman’s Day.

It is gen­er­ally seen as be­ing more dif­fi­cult to run branded con­tent in news and cur­rent affairs ti­tles be­cause they trade on their edi­to­rial in­tegrity. But be­cause the edi­to­rial teams had


to­tal con­trol over what was writ­ten, Gardiner says that in­tegrity was able to be main­tained and, in his opin­ion, it was the first re­ally in­ter­est­ing branded con­tent that was suit­able for North & South.

“They trusted us to cre­ate the con­tent and to run it in a con­tex­tu­ally rel­e­vant en­vi­ron­ment. And that led to the win-win-win: it’s a win for read­ers be­cause it’s great con­tent, it’s a win for us from a com­mer­cial per­spec­tive and it’s a win for Sov­er­eign.”

The in­sights from Bauer’s re­search were also used to gen­er­ate PR for Sov­er­eign that could run in other ti­tles, so it was able to get “those mean­ing­ful in­sights to work even harder”.

At the time the cam­paign launched, Bauer hadn’t launched its dig­i­tal hubs Homes to Love or Food to Love, and its on­line au­di­ence was rel­a­tively small, so, to reach Sov­er­eign’s au­di­ence tar­gets, it part­nered with Ya­hoo, which built a mi­crosite and re­pur­posed Bauer’s con­tent to fit.


In print and on­line, Bauer’s edi­to­rial team cre­ated 50 pieces of con­tent and Gardiner says it had re­ally strong num­bers through Ya­hoo’s mi­crosite. Two sto­ries re­ceived nearly 5,000 clicks and there were 4,000 clicks on the home­page bill­board on ya­ Over the course of the cam­paign, the hub had 200,000 unique users, with an av­er­age time spent on the page of around two min­utes.

It also cre­ated a quiz about health and well­be­ing and 2,000 peo­ple com­pleted it. Bauer then pro­duced a 28-page per­son­alised mag­a­zine about tak­ing charge that fea­tured con­tent tailored to the an­swers the users gave in the quiz and a 30 day ac­tion plan to help re­spon­dents fo­cus on ex­er­cise, hap­pi­ness, sleep or nutri­tion.


Mar­keters gen­er­ally find it dif­fi­cult to give up con­trol over their com­mu­ni­ca­tions. And for those who just can’t bring them­selves to do it, Gardiner says they can still al­ways run ads or sup­ply con­tent for ad­ver­to­ri­als. But the smart clients know that “if they want some­thing that’s mean­ing­ful and con­tex­tual, they leave it to the pub­lisher”. And if that’s the favoured ap­proach, he says it’s im­por­tant that clients brief pub­lish­ers a lot tighter if they want the best re­sults.

“In the old days our edi­to­rial teams would never en­gage with an ad­ver­tiser. But now they have to. It’s part of the client re­la­tion­ship and it’s the new way of do­ing busi­ness. It’s a ne­ces­sity.”

And while he says there has been some hes­i­tance in the past from edi­to­rial staff, and a be­lief that church and state should re­main sep­a­rate, there has been a re­al­i­sa­tion that they can help “cre­ate qual­ity edi­to­rial and get paid for it”.

He says there’s also been a re­al­i­sa­tion from some clients that con­tent mar­ket­ing is a more ef­fi­cient way of get­ting their mes­sage out. Gardiner says clients have long em­ployed PR agen­cies to write sto­ries about their busi­ness, ap­proach me­dia con­tacts with those sto­ries and then cross their fin­gers and hope those sto­ries get picked up and run for ‘free’. While some con­tent does run, there’s no guar­an­tee—and if it does, it might be changed or aug­mented with re­port­ing. So work­ing di­rectly with a pub­lisher and be­ing as­sured that the right mes­sage is go­ing to find a rel­e­vant au­di­ence is just tak­ing out a mid­dle­man, says Gardiner.

“When you talk to them about that they un­der­stand it … I know which op­tion I’d choose.”

And he’s con­fi­dent more mar­keters will choose that op­tion in 2016.


Sov­er­eign’s chief of­fi­cer of mar­ket­ing and strat­egy Chris Lamers says this cam­paign was about “dip­ping a toe” in the wa­ters of con­tent mar­ket­ing and he says it got fan­tas­tic amounts of en­gage­ment. And Bauer’s abil­ity to con­duct re­search brought a fresh per­spec­tive to its busi­ness that it wouldn’t nor­mally get.

“The in­ter­net is full of great con­tent that peo­ple never read, but work­ing with a pub­lish­ing part­ner is a great way to cre­ate con­tent that peo­ple ac­tu­ally do read.”

While me­dia own­ers are al­ways keen to talk about brands step­ping back and hav­ing faith in their abil­ity to en­gage au­di­ences, Lamers says it can some­times go too far and be too sub­tle. Like any mar­ket­ing in­vest­ment, there needs to be at­tri­bu­tion back to the brand for it to be ef­fec­tive, but it can’t be too salesy or it will turn peo­ple off.

Gardiner says the new world of con­tent mar­ket­ing is very fresh and a lot of clients are get­ting into it for the first time. That’s a promis­ing trend for pub­lish­ers, but there are lots of fish hooks around trust, sign-off and what brands want to achieve. So he says it’s im­por­tant to be clear about the out­come from the start. “And the KPIS need to re­flect that.” Lamers agrees. But he ad­mits mar­keters of­ten want the best of both worlds. They want the phone to ring and they want an in­crease in brand pref­er­ence.

He says this cam­paign has given it enough con­fi­dence to con­tinue to ex­per­i­ment with con­tent mar­ket­ing, which “un­doubt­edly has a much brighter fu­ture than dis­play ad­ver­tis­ing with the way click through rates are go­ing”, but he says it will prob­a­bly aim to take a more sus­tained ap­proach over a longer pe­riod and cre­ate clearer branded prop­er­ties in the fu­ture.

While the dig­i­tal realm al­lows mar­keters to look for proof of en­gage­ment, sim­ply see­ing an ad (or an in­ter­est­ing spon­sored story) still has an im­pact. And like­abil­ity is a key fac­tor in cus­tomer de­ci­sions. He points to the of­ten ir­ra­tional choices con­sumers make about wine (for ex­am­ple, choos­ing Dog Point be­cause you have a dog), or the power of Fly Buys, where he worked pre­vi­ously, to in­flu­ence shop­ping be­hav­iour.

Some of those de­ci­sions come from deep in our sub-con­scious and when he looks at some of its softer mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­ity, such as its nam­ing rights spon­sor­ship of the Tri Se­ries with Triathlon NZ, there is an “un­equiv­o­cal” cor­re­la­tion to sales. And he thinks con­tent mar­ket­ing is in a sim­i­lar cat­e­gory.

Gardiner be­lieves the softer sell of con­tent of­ten works well when com­bined with the harder sell of tra­di­tional ad­ver­tis­ing. And as Bur­son-marsteller Asia Pa­cific chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Mar­garet Key ex­plained: “Ad­ver­tis­ing is telling some­body over and over again that you are a great lover. PR is hir­ing some­one else to tell peo­ple that you are a great lover. Con­tent mar­ket­ing is telling peo­ple a story about why you are a great lover.”

This story is part of a con­tent part­ner­ship with Bauer Me­dia. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact pgar­

For Sov­er­eign’s con­tent cam­paign, Bauer con­ducted re­search on health and well-be­ing and then let its edi­to­rial teams craft the in­sights into con­tex­tu­ally rel­e­vant sto­ries. It also cre­ated a per­son­alised mag­a­zine (below left) for read­ers who took an...

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