Financial: Unum urges families to have back-up plan

While recession and the proposed welfare reforms heightened people's sensitivities to their lack of financial protection, income protection (IP) was not on their radars. Blue Rubicon worked alongside Albion and Zenith Optimedia to highlight the financial risks of long-term sick leave and the need for a back-up plan.

The Steeres were used by Unum to demonstrate the importance of IP
The Steeres were used by Unum to demonstrate the importance of IP

Campaign: Everyone Needs a 'Back-up Plan'
Client: Unum
PR team: Blue Rubicon
Timescale: June 2011-January 2012
Budget: £700,000



  •  To raise awareness of IP and the gap in protection for those who are unable to work due to long-term illness or injury
  •  To start conversations among consumers, and between employees and their employers to include IP in benefits packages
  • To position Unum as the thought leader in the market.

Strategy and plan

Blue Rubicon set up partnerships with different organisations to add credibility to the campaign.

The team approached the Institute for Social & Economic Research, which was conducting a long-term survey of behaviour within families, and asked it to extend this to the financial impact of long-term sickness. The findings were sent to the media.

Unum wanted to make financial issues clearer for the public. So the PR team set up another partnership with the Plain English Campaign calling for the insurance industry to cut down on jargon. Unum included a jargon-buster on its website. This resulted in coverage on the BBC Wake up to Money programme.

Meanwhile, Unum developed video content based on a Demos think-tank report on the cost to government of sickness absence. This appeared on nine national, personal finance and lifestyle websites.

Following last summer's payment protection insurance mis-selling scandal, stories were pitched to highlight the different types of protection insurance, including IP, leading to double-page spreads in the Daily Mirror and Daily Express.

Six prominent bloggers were also challenged to live on the equivalent of the Employment and Support Allowance, the benefit for UK workers on long-term sick leave, for one week and share their experiences.

The team developed Facebook applications that enabled people to calculate how much their benefits package was worth, as well as an AskUnum website. This allowed consumers, employers and employees to ask questions about IP.

Measurement and evaluation

In 2010 there were 327 articles on IP, of which only 15 mentioned Unum, while in 2011 there were 427 articles on IP, of which 64 mentioned Unum. In total, Unum secured 519 pieces of coverage, of which 94 per cent carried at least one key message and 70 per cent carried at least two key messages.


Research Now surveys showed a doubled intent to ask about IP at work among employees. Awareness of the need for IP went from 11 per cent to 17 per cent among employees and from 32 per cent to 38 per cent among employers. Increased awareness of Unum among employers went from eight per cent to 31 per cent.



This is a campaign of highly impressive numbers. Share of voice for Unum versus competitors on income protection went up dramatically; coverage volume was high; key message delivery was strong; and, dare I say it, the budget was pretty impressive too.

But the numeric success of Blue Rubicon's campaign is for a reason - it is undoubtedly a well thought-through and well-executed campaign, with distinct activities carefully tuned to a broad base of channels and audiences.

I like the variety of tactics used - from intelligent partnerships and research, to well-timed reactive commentary, to the almost obligatory Facebook app.

The result of this work is success in helping to drag an issue we all tend to avoid into a higher level of consciousness among employees and employers, and giving Unum a significantly higher profile.

What I can't see is how this campaign was integrated with Albion and Zenith Optimedia's work, so how did PR add to the integrated marketing mix? And what has it done for sales?

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