Hiscox puts on a show to position itself as a unique insurance brand

Hiscox, a specialist insurance company, launched its direct and online small-business products in the US and was looking for a unique way to increase brand awareness.

Client: Hiscox Small Business Insurance (Armonk, NY)
PR agency: CJP (New York)
Campaign: Leap Year
Duration: June 6-August 8, 2011
Budget: $400,000

In November 2010, Hiscox, a specialist insurance company, launched its direct and online small-business products in the US and was looking for a unique way to increase brand awareness.

Strategy
To buck the insurance industry's dull reputation, Hiscox worked with CJP to devise an entertaining approach to reach entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

Tactics
CJP hired Happy Little Guillotine Films to help produce Leap Year, an original comedy series. The plot follows five first-time entrepreneurs handling the challenges of starting a business. "The situations are taken directly from what Hiscox would be able to help with," says Wilson Cleveland, head of CJP Digital and producer of Leap Year.

A microsite was created, which includes a photo gallery, the show's Tumblr and Twitter feed, and the column "Small Business Hacks" run by The Young Entrepreneur Council. CJP aired the show through Hulu and other video channels while utilizing multiple social media platforms to garner attention, even releasing the show's soundtrack on iTunes.

Hiscox eschewed overt promotions and branding. "If characters say, 'Let me call my Hiscox agent,' it would fall flat," explains Hunter Hoffmann, head of US communications for Hiscox.

Results
The series received coverage on Forbes.com, Portfolio.com, TV Guide, The New York Times, and Mashable. By the end of the season, Leap Year had garnered 2 million-plus views and Hiscox mentions on Twitter doubled from May to August.

Future
No future seasons are planned, but Hoffman says Hiscox hopes "to keep the conversation going through all the content we have on our microsite and the social media networks we've built."

Hiscox will conduct a brand recognition study in Q1 2012.

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