Mark Borkowski wonders which insurer will dive into the spotlight by making a classy commercial
' The latest TV insurance ads from Sainsbury's Bank featuring a piece of litter scuttling about claiming to be 'Little Bill' are so lame it's time someone put their hand up and asked to be excused.
The first wave in the cheapo ad genre had the occasional gem - it was initially funny watching Michael Winner, and like it or loathe it 'Quote Me Happy' is a strong advertising idea. But now Esure, Admiral, Direct Line, Churchill and the rest must be locked in the most furious competition.
Under such circumstances any pretence at originality is always the first victim. The only communication aids these firms will trust from now on are repetition and exclamation marks.
The insurance industry's TV presence constitutes a clearly defined £200m sector of the advertising industry, and what a creative desert it has become - for two reasons.
First, beautiful, well-made TV commercials are incredibly expensive. Proper car or bank ads cost a million pounds again today, and that's just to shoot them, not to broadcast them anywhere. I say 'again' because they cost the same seven or eight years ago before everyone had to tighten their belts.
Second, it's reached the point with these insurance commercials that they are so cheap they no longer really count as ads in viewers' minds: they see them more as internet pop-ups, necessary evils which, horrifyingly, permeate the subconscious by endless repetition, and, as far as the insurers are concerned, work.
And because someone has deduced that when you put alarmingly low production
values on the screen you're sending a clear message of thrift and cost-consciousness, we're stuck with them.
This tirade brings me to the point. Which British insurance company is going to be first to break the mould?
PR's eternal quest is for differentiation - some stand-out quality that distinguishes a client's brand favourably in any gathering of its peers. The company that stands apart by not making cheap TV ads will be the one with the best publicists creating the best stories, getting them in front of opinion formers and into the public domain faster and more accurately than their opponents.
There is such a glaring gap here someone's surely already plotting a way to ignite the magical connection between the brand and the brain that negates advertising (namely rotten advertising), letting the brave, clever brand tower above its rivals as it becomes famous for good reasons.
Every TV viewer in the country, with the possible exception of Michael Winner, is crying out for it. IT
' Mark Borkowski is head of PR agency Borkowski