John Lewis Insurance

  • John Lewis wanted to launch their new insurance brand into a competitive marketplace
  • They used the emotional power of TV advertising to distinguish themselves from their competitors
  • The campaign generated over £4m sales of new policies


The insurance market had become increasingly undifferentiated over the past decade, with aggregator websites driving the importance of price over quality. In addition, consumer trust for insurance companies was very low, lagging behind even the banks! 

Research helped identify a clear difference in the purchasing habits of John Lewis customers versus other buyers of insurance in that they determine quality of cover before they evaluate price. 

With an opportunity to be the trusted provider in the category and with a customer base looking for quality over price, a clear positioning emerged. John Lewis would be the brand that cared as much about your possessions as you do. The line that was to represent this became “If it matters to you, it matters to us.”

They developed a three tiered offering of quality products so they could appeal to different price points. With these new policies and positioning in place, they decided the time had come to take them to the market. However, like any new advertiser, they were starting from a low base and awareness was very low – the lowest in the category.

The Solution

The new John Lewis Insurance brand was setting out not to be a typical insurer and sought to separate itself from the category norms of the insurance market. So their media agency, Manning Gottlieb OMD, developed the strategy to behave more like John Lewis in their communications and less like a mainstream insurance brand. 

They utilised TV’s emotional power to drive long term profit and used extended time lengths to distinguish the brand from its competitors.  

Although they offered the whole suite of insurance products, they decided at first to focus on home insurance; partly because home was the hero category that John Lewis had built its reputation on and partly because it would be more likely to pull the emotional heartstrings of the viewers. 

They chose premium TV environments to reinforce their quality perceptions. This meant a greater emphasis on peak time as well as carefully selected spots on the launch weekend. 

The TV ad, created by adam&eveDDB, was in a style in keeping with the John Lewis brand and was well distinguished from other insurance adverts. 


They opted to advertise in August and September as this offered the brand an opportunity to cut through versus the competition. Apart from December, home insurers were the least active on TV in these two months providing John Lewis Insurance with the ability to increase their share of voice. In addition, August is a cheaper month which helped the budget go further. 

They were launching into a highly competitive marketplace with a product that is purchased annually. Therefore, Manning Gottlieb OMD calculated that they would need a minimum of 500 TVRs with a frequency of between 7 and 10. They opted for a drip approach with a week on week off strategy. This allowed them to extend the campaign later into September and so access key programmes such as X Factor and Downton Abbey. They started with a 90 second ad and then followed it up with a 60 second ad and then a 30 second ad. 

They upweighted activity in London and the South East. With half of existing insurance customers and two thirds of John Lewis shoppers based in these regions, it was important to increase presence in them. In addition, they added VoD to the schedule using sites such as 4oD and this added 2% incremental cover to the plan. 

The TV activity was supported by press and social media – including a competition on Twitter Vine mirroring the stop motion technique used in the TV ad with a hashtag #whatmattersmost. They also utilised branch windows to showcase the campaign plus inserts, online display, search and door drops. 


Since the TV campaign in August and September 2013, the results have been truly remarkable for both brand and business. 

  • Emotionally, the ad really connected with the UK. Neuroscience analysis by BrainJuicer shows that the happiness score for the campaign was 57% higher than the norm for the financial sector. 
  • Advertising recognition was up 31% year on year (Source: HPI)
  • Brand awareness grew by 87% (Source: HPI)
  • Overall consideration for John Lewis Insurance improved by 33% (Source: HPI)
  • Despite focusing solely on home insurance in the TV ad, consideration of all other insurance products was up, (between 6 and 18%), particularly among John Lewis shoppers. (Source: HPI)

The bold move to run an emotional ad with no direct call to action had an immediate impact on the business. 

  • Quotes of the new suite of insurance products increased on average by 36%
  • Similarly, sales increased by 31%
  • In the 3 months after the TV launch, home insurance sales were up 144%
  • The new policies sold were worth over £4m
  • Direct sales online increased by over a third
  • ROI was 26% better than the norm

In January 2014, Consumer intelligence released their in-depth independent analysis of the car and home insurance markets and has recognised the fast growth John Lewis Insurance achieved through its launch on TV : “John Lewis achieved top 10 places in both home and motor lists meaning [John Lewis Insurance] can be considered one of the most successful brands of 2013”

The brand was back on TV in 2014 with two bursts of activity in the spring and autumn. 

The campaign won Best Newcomer to TV at The Thinkbox TV Planning Awards 2014 

At the heart of John Lewis Insurance’s launch and success has been a clear understanding of the key audience – John Lewis shoppers. Unlike many insurance buyers who look simply for the headline price, they look for leading cover for price, outstanding service and the reassurance that, if things should go wrong, John Lewis will be there. This insight led to a formulation of a high quality product suite, all priced fairly and simply to meet the widest needs of shoppers.

But the great products and service are just half the story. It’s great marketing of those products through our first TV execution and campaign that has accelerated brand awareness and conversation far beyond all targets and expectations. By leveraging the strong values of John Lewis and behaving more like them, we landed the brand and made it a credible alternative in a highly competitive marketplace.”

Keith Bibby , Head of Marketing, John Lewis Insurance


Sector: Financial

Brand: John Lewis Insurance

Campaign objectives: To launch a suite of insurance products and to cut through in a highly competitive marketplace

Target Audience: ABC1 adults 

Budget: £3.6m (creative + media)

Campaign Dates: The campaign ran from 17th August until 29th September 2013 

TV Usage: 90”, 60” and 30” spots

Creative Agency: Adam & Eve / DDB

Media Agency:  MGOMD

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