How Liberty insurance breathed new life and prosperity into the ailing Quinn brand.

1st February 2016

In a sector where trust is key, can you harness a company heritage from Boston and make it relevant for customers in Ireland?

This multi-awarded campaign shows how brand honesty can pay back commercially.


Why should you care?

Trust is a increasingly scarce and valuable  commodity in today’s business climate.

The Edelman Trust barometer continually shows declining levels of trust in business globally and in Ireland.

In December 2011, Liberty Insurance took over Quinn insurance, a troubled brand in a troubled market, where former owner Sean Quinn was all over the media for all the wrong reasons.

Actuaries forecasted that if the company’s 2010 and 2011 rate of decline continued, it would cease trading by late 2013.

The Liberty Team made the brave decision to ‘burn the boats’ and honestly introduce themselves to the people of Ireland as a new insurance player, based on their Boston values of fairness,  honesty and transparency.

The campaign, ‘Insurance as it should be’  used advertising and sponsorship to tell the truth about Liberty’s history and why their philosophy was relevant for the wary Irish public.

Truth was rewarded by trust. Trust was rewarded by turnaround in commercial success.


What did the brand do?

By 2012, the combination of recession, global financial crisis and increased competition had damaged the Irish public’s trust in the insurance sector.

In addition for Quinn insurance, newly acquired by Liberty Mutual, there was a stream of negative publicity surrounded former owner Sean Quinn, resulting in a haemorrhaging decline in customer base.

The marketing and advertising team decided to burn the boats and draw a line behind the Quinn brand and history.

It designed a new campaign to reflect the values and behaviour of new owner Liberty,  a respected Boston insurance company anchored in Fairness, Decency and Transparency.

It was based around a honest telling of the Boston company’s heritage and philosophy and clearly explaining that it was now available in Ireland.

It had to achieve repositioning with no new products or service innovations and fragile employee morale.

The campaign featured a down-to-earth Bostonian spokesman ‘Bobby’ and used integrated above the line media and sponsorship of the ‘Late Late Show’ to announce the brand arrival.

Liberty share of voice remained constant at 19% versus the previous year.

Did it work?

  • Prompted brand awareness, all adults, rose from 29% in January 2012 to 76% in November 2012 - a jump of 45% just nine months into the campaign.
  • The ‘Burn the Boats’ strategy worked. As spontaneous brand awareness of Liberty Insurance grew from 0% in January 2012 to 28% by December, Quinn Insurance scores fell from 48% to 14%.
  • Brand consideration for Liberty rose from 2% to 24% over the year from January 2012 to December 2012. Liberty was now in the top 3 brands for insurance consideration.
  • After only 12 months, the value market share in motor insurance grew  from 8.9% to 10.4% market share.
  • Value market share in home insurance grew by 3.27% to 4% share over the same 12 month period.
  • By November 2013, Liberty Insurance generated a total income of €224m versus an income of €27.5m for the period between November 2010 and December 31 2011.

What else would we like to see?

  • The development of the Liberty brand campaign in Ireland has laid the foundations for long term business growth and customer loyalty.
  • It will be inspiring to see the commercial results of the campaign over a longer time frame, in line with other long-term ADFX cases like Donegal Catch and Bulmers and broader Irish and international commercial evidence.
  • It would also be interesting to see how the brand positioning might inspire product  and service innovations and how these might contribute to commercial results.

Learnings Unpacked

  • This is great example of a brand which chose to ignore its past,  play to it’s strengths and treat its audience with respect and honesty.
  • There is clear ‘joined-up-thinking’ in the campaign across the creative idea and the media strategy and implementation, including Late-Late Sponsorship.
  • The case is a powerful example of John Power’s (1895) three marketing commandments: ‘Tell the Truth. Be Interesting and Live the Truth.

What more can we all do for our cases and campaign?

Start pulling together the evidence and argument for your 2016 ADFX entry for your brand campaign. Entries to be submitted by 8th April 

The best cases are strong collaborations between clients and their agencies.

These cases can provide ammunition for the value of advertising investment for the sceptics in the Boardroom, as well as across the wider business community.

What other inspiration is out there?

  1. If you found this case inspirational, please go to the ADFX Data-Bank for more examples.
  2.  If you want to make a stronger case for marketing investment to the Boardroom,  read A Line in the Sand (2015). Findings from a meta-analysis of ADFX cases by Karen Hand and Jill McGrath
  3. If you want insight on how to design and execute campaigns that will continually deliver against the odds, read I Must be Talking to my Friends by John Fanning