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#LEAwards 2021 highlight: AIA SG's creative approach in remaining top of mind

#LEAwards 2021 highlight: AIA SG's creative approach in remaining top of mind

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The pandemic led many companies to pivot and adapt their marketing strategies. Priorities changed over time and AIA Singapore, for example, was one of the companies that had to evolve its marketing strategies to ensure it remains top of mind among consumers during challenging times. Its brand marketing team had initially worked on a campaign about retirement planning but placed those plans on the backburner to ensure it retained a dominant share of voice while taking on a sensitive approach to market its products and services.

The efforts by the brand marketing team saw the brand win gold for Team of the Year - Brand at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Loyalty & Engagement Awards 2021. Find out how the team impressed the judges.

Challenge 

AIA Singapore had intended to launch an integrated communications campaign around retirement planning at the beginning of last year. However, the team placed it on hold when COVID-19 hit as Singaporeans prioritised aspects such as job security and sustainability of their livelihoods and placed retirement planning at the bottom. 

Internally, the team also faced the unprecedented realities of a challenged business and halts to its regular marketing and operational activities. In-person engagements, football sponsorship and face-to-face meetings required of its agency force were deeply impacted. Hence, this pushed its communications team to reprioritised and pivot, and tell timely stories that amplify the brand where they could. All this was done while navigating external and internal changes including a new CEO and shuffle within the executive committee. 

The team had to strike a delicate balance between maintaining its dominant share of voice and taking a sensitive approach to marketing its products and services. Its group of wordsmiths, data scientists, as well as web and app designers had to embrace a fully digital approach to deliver their messages successfully, all while cutting through the clutter. 

Its main challenge was to continue empowering its audience to live healthier, longer, better lives in a remote environment while making the brand matter above all others. 

Strategy 

To reaffirm its market leadership during challenging and uncertain times, AIA's brand team used a combination of integrated campaigns and initiatives to keep the brand both purposeful and salient across its entire ecosystem, from its customers and agency force to its employees and wider community. It sought to deliver strong results when it came to achieving business growth, improving brand health, optimising operational efficiencies to deliver greater value back to its customers and distributors.  

At the height of COVID-19, its communications plan for the year involved magnifying campaigns and initiatives across multiple platforms such as earned placements, social media and the web, as well as equipping its employees and agency force with relevant technologies and resources to better support them and their customers. 

While the team used various platforms to execute its plan, its efforts were driven by a clear and motivated ambition to communicate to its audiences that in good times and bad, AIA Singapore continues to double down on its duty as partners in life.  

According to the insurer, every single team member was empowered to challenge the status quo to drive initiatives both within and outside of brand marketing, ensuring that AIA can make a difference in the lives of Singaporeans. 

The team came up with an #EmbracingNewNorms integrated communications campaign to help Singaporeans understand and adjust to embrace the new normal. The campaign involved a multi-channel approach ranging from leveraging social media, hosting virtual events, and launching educational online resources such as a dedicated COVID-19 webpage. 

Meanwhile, to ensure the mental wellness and resilience of its workforce, it introduced several important employee initiatives including the Resilience Mindset programme. The programme is a complimentary mental resilience training benefitting 1.2 million employed individuals in Singapore. This is a four-week course that trains employees to practice positive habits daily as they cope with working from home.  

Through earned media, AIA's brand team also amplified initiatives that supported Singaporeans through financial uncertainty. It announced initiatives such as the deferment of the premium scheme, ongoing free COVID-19 special coverage until December 2021, and coverage of the costs of 50,000 teleconsultations for all AIA HealthShield Gold Max customers. The insurer said it also created 500 opportunities in the financial sector through its financial career scheme. 

At the same time, to better equip its agency force, AIA provided them with access to digital platforms such as iSmart to equip them with sufficient knowledge to better serve customers during COVID-19. It rolled out paperless submissions amidst heightened safe distancing rules to complement these efforts and its insurance representatives' increasing e-capability. 

Execution 

AIA's brand team created a united community of agents, staff and partners to help Singaporeans embrace new norms. The integrated campaign rolled out drumbeats of initiatives that stayed sensitive to consumer needs at different stages of the evolving COVID-19 situation. It offered comprehensive COVID-19 support from free telehealth consultations and mental resilience training to extending the grace period of premium payments. 

To engage customers in more relatable ways, AIA also hosted virtual health and wellness events and webinars with its ambassadors David Beckham and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club to motivate customers in their holistic health and wellness journey.  

At the same time, AIA also nurtured a culture of inclusion and empathy and rallied its people to support a common cause, so it can connect them to something bigger than themselves and help them contribute to a wider purpose. 

It invested over SG$5 million in various community initiatives to comprehensively support Singaporeans throughout 2020. One of these initiatives was the AIA #ShareTheLove movement, which offered protection to essential workers and underprivileged families. AIA agents pledged their support by donating a portion of their policy sales during this period, with all donations matched by AIA Singapore.  

To mark its 90 years in Singapore, AIA further extended its community support programme with a new green pledge, committing SG$5 million to the National Parks Board's registered charity, Garden City Fund, to plant trees in Singapore's parks and nature reserves over the next five years. As of May 2021, our contribution is the largest by an organisation to NParks' OneMillionTrees movement. 

Results 

AIA Singapore managed to achieve results in three areas – drive business growth despite challenging times, improve brand health, and having health and well-being initiatives as a game-changer in boosting employee engagement.  

  1. Driving business growth despite exceptional circumstances

According to AIA, the team, maintained its market leadership position of employee benefits insurance in Singapore in terms of new and in-force premiums. It also recorded an increase in the sales and demand for protection insurance sales as compared to the same period last year. 

AIA also saw a strong uptake of its free COVID-19 special coverage policy, with more than SG$540,000 being paid out in separate claims as at 6 December - benefitting about 500 customers holding individual and corporate policies. 

  1. Improving brand health

The insurer maintained a dominant share of voice (44%) compared to its competitors from January to December 2020, a 10% increase from 2019. It also accumulated more than SG$12 million in earned PR value, more than SG$4 million more compared to 2019.  

The team also wrapped up the year on a high note with a 92% score for brand awareness, driving a solid brand preference score that is six percentage points above its competitors. Amongst partnership awareness, AIA Vitality’s association with its brand promise of enabling healthier, longer and better lives reached an all-time high at the end of 2020.  

  1. Health and wellbeing initiatives a game-changer in boosting employee engagement

In 2020, 97% of AIA’s employees in Singapore contributed to AIA Group’s overall Gallup employee engagement scores, which increased by 12 percentile points, keeping AIA in the top quartile of Gallup’s global financial services and insurance industry benchmark for the fourth consecutive year. 

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