By Published On: February 25, 2022

Our team regularly discusses marketing and advertising we’ve seen out in the wild that works or doesn’t work (and why). Recently someone brought in a letter they received around Valentine’s Day with what most of us initially thought was an interesting approach.

The letter (with pink hearts on it) from their insurance agent was written from the perspective of a life insurance policy. I love the idea of personifying a product. If done well it can bring to life a dry product, like life insurance, and allow the marketer to express the unique product attributes in human terms the recipient can identify with. Done badly, this type of communication can be off-putting and cringeworthy.

For perspective, the person who received it is a single, non-home-owning Millennial—everything the insurance provider already knew.

The letter started out well enough…

“I am your life insurance policy.”

“You and I have similar purposes in the world.”

“It is your job to provide food, clothing, shelter, education, medicine and other things for your loved ones.”

And then…

“You do this while I lie in your safe deposit box.”

How many Millennials do you know with a safe deposit box?

“I have faith and trust in you. Out of your earnings will come the cost of my upkeep. At times, I may appear insignificant to you – but someday (and who knows when) you and I will change places.”

Is he saying what I think he’s saying?? But wait, there’s more…

“When you are laid to rest. I will come alive and do your job. I may provide food, clothing, shelter, education, medicine and other things your family will continue to need – just as you are doing now. When your work and labor are done, mine will begin. Through me, your hands can carry on.”

“Whenever you feel the price you’re paying for my upkeep is burdensome, remember that I can do more for you and your family than you will ever do for me.” (Emphasis mine.)

“If you do your part, I’ll do mine.”

WHAAAT?…

Not only did this letter miss the mark with the audience – by not using insights to speak meaningfully to a young single person with no mortgage – but it depended on fear and thinly veiled threats of an early death to try to force a purchase. Plus, it implied guilt that the recipient will get more out of it than the insurance company will.

On Valentine’s Day. With hearts.

In addition, a day later he received a 2-minute voicemail message that was equally awkward.

My teammate was put-off and offended by the whole thing – who wants to get harassed by a personified life insurance policy and think about death on Valentine’s Day? Perhaps it was meant to be funny, but in my opinion, it missed the mark.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this letter or your own examples/analysis of marketing that didn’t work for you.

About the Author: Megan Devine

Megan Devine
Megan taps into her left-brain logic and right brain creativity—steering the business, bantering with her team, and strategizing on client work. She says it’s her dream job and we believe her. Using her passion and knack for understanding complex connections in business and marketing, she collaborates to create love between brands and customers. She possesses expertise and experience that only comes from persevering in the ever-changing marketing agency world. Megan co-founded d.trio marketing group, now cat&tonic, in January of 2000 and took sole ownership in 2019. Her vision, support, and sheer stubbornness got us through 9/11, the great recession, and a pandemic. She has judged the International ECHO Awards since 2005, has consulted for several organizations, and serves on several boards. Educated at Carleton College, she learned the importance of critical thinking for success. At home she learned the value of a good story.
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