When it comes to content marketing for insurance companies, there’s a general rule that is held up as the strategy to follow.
The more you spend, the better the results you get.
That’s why you can’t turn on the TV, watch a YouTube video or listen to the radio without hearing an advertisement for car insurance, or homeowner’s insurance, or even life insurance. But the insurance industry is a diverse marketplace, with many businesses that do not have anywhere close to the size (or spending power) of Geico or Allstate.
What is a small insurance company to do to stand out?
Combine a low-budget guerrilla marketing strategy and a clever marketing firm, and the result is a viral campaign that gained a lot of free advertising.
VrijVerzekerd is an online automobile insurance company that specializes in offering budget-friendly plans. The Dutch company hired European firm Novocortex to create a campaign, and the firm delivered.
With a total cost of 1000 euros, Novocortex printed stickers that looked like gigantic scratches and placed them on expensive cars. They then filmed people returning to their cars and their reactions to finding their “damaged” cars. Novocortex then posted the videos to YouTube, offered people free stickers to conduct the prank on their own, and encouraged them to film the results.
Why it Worked
People love pranks, and watching pranks on YouTube is always popular.
A good prank always has the capacity to go viral, and the campaign capitalized on that. But a brand using a YouTube prank can easily backfire, since a lot of pranks on YouTube have an element of animosity.
Videos of people falling and possibly hurt themselves can be unsettling, and seeing people truly scared or upset can be a big turnoff for many. Is the chance of going viral worth the risk of alienating potential customers?
This prank was specially designed to be a gentle, all-in-good fun joke. In fact, the company had the stickers printed on special “static paper” that uses static electricity rather than an adhesive to stick to the car. Ensuring that absolutely no damage or even a need for clean up was required demonstrates how thoughtful the company was in designing the “prank.”
The company received letters from kids trying to fool their parents, people wanting to play a joke on their neighbors, and colleagues looking to prank a co-worker. The campaign was successful thanks to the universal appeal of this prank.
What Made it Special
A viral campaign that costs less than 1000 euros seems hard to come by, but let’s take a closer look.
YouTube pranks can be considered an actual video genre, and there’s one thing that they all have in common: unprofessional camera skills and film quality. In fact, this is seen as a distinct virtue in a YouTube prank video, as it lends authenticity to the prank. Videos that are too polished and slick are inevitablely decried as “fakes.” And prank videos that actually are fakes are most successful when amateur-looking camerawork is used.
The guerrilla filming style of YouTube pranks worked to the campaign’s advantage. There was no need to invest any money in expensive filming equipment, since anyone with a steady hand and a smart phone could do the trick. This made it quite easy for the campaign to go viral; people uploaded their at-home versions of the prank, and it looked just like the original. Between the free stickers and easy accessibility to creating YouTube-ready content, crowdsourced content marketing proliferated.
The company reached out to automotive blogs, and from there the story spread. And it didn’t just stop at YouTube; the press happily picked up on the feel-good marketing story with a great sense of humor.
The insurance company wanted to increase engagement and brand recognition, and the campaign accomplished the goal. Not only did the company see a 20% increase in daily web traffic, but the entire campaign, down to the prank, perfectly played into the relevance of a car insurance company.
The sticker itself was not just fake scratches. There were words printed on it that read, “Repairing your damages can be as easy as removing this sticker. Insure your car on VrijVerzekerd.nl and get a discount of 10-49%.”
Guerrilla marketing doesn’t get more simple than that.
About the author
A freelance writer and content strategist for the last eight years, Alexandra M is a highly skilled writer, editor, proofreader and researcher. From an educational background based in English literature and poetry, she brings a deep understanding of the artistic use of language at its most basic level. Experience in overcoming research obstacles such as language, censorship and bureaucracies, has prepared her to tackle any inquiry with creativity and depth. Drawing on a breadth of personal and professional experience, she uses original thinking to apply these skills to produce and write creative, corporate and technical materials. When editing, her attention to detail combined with a quick grasp of overall coherency allows her to respect the author’s voice and intention while steering a work toward its best possible form.