Scottish Widows returns with 'unapologetically emotional' marketing strategy

Amber Martinez: makes her Scottish Widow TV debut next month
Amber Martinez: makes her Scottish Widow TV debut next month

Scottish Widows will return to UK screens this weekend with a new marketing strategy targeting UK consumers yet to begin planning for their retirement.

The Lloyds Banking Group-owned insurer will roll out a new ad campaign on Sunday 2 February by 101 London, based on the insight that "life feels better when you have a plan".

The nearly 200-year-old brand is looking to motivate the estimated 55% of the nation yet to begin making sufficient provisions for later life, with TV, print, outdoor and digital activity telling consumers how good they will feel today if they plan for tomorrow.

The campaign will feature a series of vignettes showing a diverse range of Scottish Widows customers, including a baker and fisherman in Hastings, and a family and ballet teacher in East London.

It follows the announcement last week that Cambridge-based model Amber Martinez will become the latest actress to play the part of the Scottish Widow.

Marketing spoke to Catherine Kehoe, managing director for brands and marketing at Lloyds Banking Group, on the strategy behind the new campaign.

MKT: What was is the idea behind the new campaign?

CK: There is a genuine later-life societal problem facing the UK, where less than half the people in the country are making sufficient provisions for their retirement. People understand it’s important but it’s rarely seen as urgent. It’s now the right time for us to engage in that debate, and it’s a fresh chapter for us.

Why have you gone for this particular creative approach?

Customers are critical to the activity. We’re talking to and reflecting on customers of all ages, scenarios and at different stages of their lives. It reflects on them living in the moment, knowing they’ve got a plan for later life, and that’s what the campaign is all about. The Widow is there to bookend the activity, look authoritative and elegant, proving confidence in our leadership around this space.

Did you always feel you had to bring back the Scottish Widow character?

The Widow has been a living brand icon and the human face of retirement, and a very vivid symbol of the protection and care we provide, running since the 80s. It gives us exceptional levels of goodwill, trust and awareness, which – in a category such as this – is enviable and very hard-won.

Insurance advertising can be very ‘shouty’ – were you at all tempted to go down that route?

The campaign is unapologetically emotional. There is no product advertising, it’s all about brand. It’s trying to have a new conversation with people around these very important issues. The conversation is not a rational one. Instead of what the category does, talking about the benefits of tomorrow, we wanted to turn that on its head and talk about the benefits you get today. That feeling when you get something sorted, like a list of chores, so you can get on with living in the moment.

With Lloyds Bank and Halifax also running new campaigns, does this feel like the completion of a process for Lloyds’ retail brands?

It’s certainly not a process, it feels much more important than that. We will continue obviously to ensure we’re reflecting changing needs, and that we’re relevant, but we’ve now looked at and refreshed each of our four "core" brands, including Scottish Widows.

The refresh of the Halifax campaign in the summer has done incredibly well, and we’re really proud of that. Bank of Scotland is a very powerful brand in its market. With Lloyds, I don’t think we could have been happier. The brand scores have been really good, especially as it was such a cluttered time in the market when we launched due to the introduction of seven-day switch.

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