The “Unsung Hero” ad from Thai Life Insurance is yet another instance of what effective digital marketing can achieve for a brand. This latest ad in a long line of similar heart-tugging ads from Thai Life Insurance reinforces, very successfully, the key proposition of the product category and the brand – which is, “Much more than life insurance, enhancing the value of life itself”. Selling the concept while engaging with the consumer emotionally, moving and elevating him to a plane that assures high brand recall—this TVC has notched up a stellar performance on the digital media, going viral since its launch on April 3, 2014, and garnering more than 2.5 million views in less than a week.
Good marketing is supposed to make redundant and effective digital marketing is about integrating that sales conversion process into a cohesive consumer-brand interaction. And this mini-film brings all that pretty neatly together. Let’s look at the market to understand how. The life insurance sector in Thailand has enjoyed a fast growth trajectory, often clocking 9-10 % y-o-y growth. Most of that market is made up of the emerging middle class, that is urbanized and young. In Thailand, Thai Life Insurance is second in terms of market share and has been targeting the entire consumer spectrum, through innovative products. It is also the only prominent life insurer that is of purely ‘Thai’ origins, in a market that has seen deregulation, buyouts, and mergers. Therefore, ‘local’ understanding is integral to the company and its positioning, an aspect that is played out through this TV commercial and its predecessors – the Thailand that is depicted here is urban but not citified. Its protagonist looks very ordinary and working class and those who benefit from his random acts of kindness are from social milieus that almost converge with his, like the street vendor whose cart he helps to navigate; or even live on the fringes, like the mother-child duo who are shown begging in the ad. And it is this backdrop of ‘ordinariness’ which lends heroism and greatness to the act of giving, elevating the message of ‘Believe in Good’ almost to a level of divinity. Nowhere is the marketing message obtrusive, yet the high emotional pull created by the ad ensures that towards the end the viewer eagerly waits for some clue about the intent, and when “Thai Life Insurance” flashes across the final, clinching frame there is a slight deflation of the emotional fervor. You almost say aloud ’oh, so this is about life insurance, and why not’ for its only in retrospect that you realize the selflessness that underlies buying a life insurance for your family.
Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok, the creators of this ad, have been using the emotional plank for all its Thai Life Insurance campaigns and this particular ad continues with that approach. The agency has used the digital platform extensively for building up buzz, often releasing the full version TVC first on Youtube. With a target group that substantially consists of a young, city-centric audience that are heavy users of social media and smartphones, the Digital-First marketing strategy has been successful, with earlier Thai Life Insurance TVCs, as well as this one, proving to be a hit on social media.
The format of the TVC which is in the form of a ‘mini-film’ works very effectively with the storyline, with the high-pitch emotional buildup occurring through a sequence of images that are cinematic in their look and presentation. Using the emotional plank for a campaign that follows a digital-first communication strategy is actually smart marketing for the peculiarity of the digital/social media is that it's one-on-one and deeply personal. In such an environment, the viewer is often an active participant and whatever moves his psyche leaves a lasting impression, which in this case would be choosing to ‘do good’. In the ‘Unsung Hero’ ad the likely demographic being targeted is the young, single, urbane, self-absorbed adult, for whom life insurance has little significance. For the protagonist used in the ad can connect with such a target group, while his atypical behavior and the uplifting message of the ‘mini-film’ nudges them out of their self-sufficient, insular cocoons to look, think and decide beyond the immediate.