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Will iSelect’s investment in a new brand ambassador pay dividends?

November 2018

This is a self-funded case study using our Advertising Testing solution.

iSelect, the insurance, utilities and personal finance comparison giant, underwent a number of significant changes following a disappointing 2018. Not only did they welcome a new CMO, but they also changed creative agencies soon-after. A new campaign titled “The Billusionist” was then launched, featuring an extravagant magician who makes “big bills” disappear.

Seeing this campaign break got us very excited, as it signalled iSelect’s return to investing in a brand ambassador, after dropping the famous “Mr iSelect” back in 2016 (which is the brand’s longest-running campaign, produced by AJF from 2010 – 2016).

Creating a clear connection to the brand is 1 of the 3 core pillars of effective advertising:

  1. Captivate people by engaging them emotionally
  2. Connect back to the brand in a meaningful way
  3. Compel a change in thoughts, feelings and behaviours

Brand Ambassadors – or any other consistent deployment of a branding device such as colours, characters, music, themes, straplines, etc. – are invaluable, because they work with the brain to create a quick and seamless shortcut to the intended advertiser.

Importantly, new branding devices don’t just establish themselves overnight; they can take many years and many campaigns of careful nurturing, before eventually paying dividends in the long-term. Think the M&M’s characters or Specsavers’ iconic “Should’ve gone to…” strapline. With this in mind, we tested 2 new “The Billusionist” creatives to see how they stacked up.

In a promising early sign, the lavish use of orange combined with the “price comparison” tagline/messaging, helped the ads achieve a respectable level of branding. Complimenting this with a powerful brand-ambassador will, over time, provide iSelect with all the creative ingredients needed to compete with Compare the Market’s Meerkats.

As was intended, “The Billusionist” caused a stir. Predominately seen as unique and distinctive, the ads also generated over 3 times the expected level of annoyance and irritation. People pay attention to things which are original and different, so there is no doubt that these ads will arouse people’s curiosity. The flamboyant magician was at the centre of this, with nearly half of all viewers stating that he was the most memorable aspect of the ads.

The polarisation caused by the magician is something we often see when using humour to appeal to a broad audience; more often than not, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. While almost half of people spontaneously commented that the ads were amusing and entertaining, an almost equal number described them as stupid and lame.

Why is this an issue? Because the success of most advertising is dependent on how it leaves people feeling about the brand. Getting people’s attention is the first critical step in this journey, but even more important is doing this in a way which elicits a positive emotional response from viewers. Without this, the ad will be limited in its ability to positively influence people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

Therefore, while the majority of people took-out the intended messaging around iSelect being experts who can help save you money (and considered this information to be new, informative and relevant), it didn’t translate into a particularly high level of persuasion.

This suggests that if the humour can be tweaked in future iterations to be less abstract and more playful, then iSelect has a great platform to build upon as its brand assets wear-in over time.

iSelect - New Brand Ambassador - Advertising Testing

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