#MarketingExcellenceAwards 2020 highlight: Manulife turns product promotion into art exhibition

#MarketingExcellenceAwards 2020 highlight: Manulife turns product promotion into art exhibition

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It’s been a fruitful year for financial company Manulife Singapore, which saw many of its works winning awards. This year at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s Marketing Excellence Awards 2020, Manulife Singapore bagged the prestigious title of Marketer of the Year. The company won four gold awards, claiming the top spot for excellence in brand strategy, digital marketing, performance marketing, and programmatic marketing.

It also took home six silver awards across the categories of brand awareness, content marketing, marketing innovation, mobile marketing, and TV/video advertising. On top of that, the company was awarded five bronze awards, across the categories of advertising, event marketing (physical), gamification, marketing innovation, and marketing transformation. It was also shortlisted as a finalist across nine other categories.

Manulife’s winning streak can be attributed to its out-of-the-box thinking. For example, one of its campaign “Reimagining Ancient Tragedies” saw it marketing its protection plans as an event which saw resounding success.


Manulife is bett­er known for its retirement offerings, but less so for its protection plans. Thus, its task is to increase awareness of Manulife (specifically around its disability coverage) and drive at least 1,000 leads within a month-long campaign period.

However, Manulife is also aware that consumers nowadays have never been more distracted – they see up to 10,000 marketing messages daily. It is therefore not going to stand out if the team produces yet another insurance campaign or force consumer att­ention through media frequency tactics. It needed to create an environment that meets customers where they’re at, and where genuine interactions can take place.

Manulife also faced the issue of addressing the topic in the appropriate tone. It needed to market disability insurance while remaining sensitive to the disabled community and refraining from being gruesome. This was on top on being differentiating with the campaign and not fall into insurance clichés.


Manulife’s big idea for the campaign was to disrupt disability insurance by reimagining ancient tragedies with Singapore’s ­first augmented reality (AR) gallery of claims. Instead of a typical ad campaign, the team decided to host an AR-led art exhibit that aims to create awareness of Manulife’s disability coverage. This was done by showcasing famous iconic statues with missing limbs and what their coverage would have been like with Manulife.

The team worked with sculptors to replicate the statues in fine detail. It also worked closely with its claims assessors to identify the actual bodily damage sustained, and worked out a compensation if the sculpture had been a real customer. Rounds of AR testing were done to ensure a natural and immersive user experience as well.


The campaign was delivered in three parts:

  1. An entirely new marketing approach

For the first time ever, Manulife marketed its campaign as an “event” on Singapore’s event sites. Manulife turned its disability coverage campaign into an event to go to instead of just something consumers read about. There was an integrated roll-out where location and technology play pivotal roles in driving the success of the campaign. The team approached the launch just as how a museum would go about rolling out a new “exhibition”.

The new marketing approach allowed the Manulife team to pull in crowds without hard-selling its products. By positioning the exhibition as “Manulife bringing the arts to the masses”, it managed to pursue high traffic venues which were previously not commercially available for insurance brands (i.e. Pekin Street). Not being in a typical roadshow venue was part of the designed experience as it allowed passers-by to take their time to explore and interact with the iconic figures and AR features without feeling like they’re at an insurance roadshow.

  1. Innovative tech-led on-ground activation

Instead of printing and giving out thousands of product brochures at the roadshows, Manulife used AR technology to engage and educate people about its upgraded disability plans at the event. Facebook AR was selected as it allowed for greater accessibility and participation without the need for the audience to download a separate app. Using their own smartphones, consumers were able to scan the displays which launched their Facebook AR function. Through AR technology, Manulife is able to showcase the damage that each iconic figure sustained, the treatment they would have required, and the payout they would receive in today’s context.

  1. Changing up of media approach

Tapping on social to drive curiosity and publicity, the team also created a one-minute film to create intrigue and hype on Facebook and YouTube about the exhibition. It tapped into social channels as “event invitations”, and ran teasers on Facebook and Instagram to drive awareness.

Instead of the usual deploying of transit advertising such as taxis and bus shelters, the team decided to switch things up and use them as teasers to create curiosity and buzz – from “missing limbs” on taxi tops to visually-impactful bus stop canopies.

The team also tapped into fitness, arts and lifestyle key opinion leaders such as Jaime Teo, Carla D, Janice Koh, Gine­e Chi­ick, and Jemma Wei, to drive additional publicity around the exhibition. Limited-edition tote bags were created to complete the “museum experience” as well.

Things didn’t just end with the on-ground exhibition. Manulife introduced Singapore’s fi­rst transparent truck, turning the exhibition into a roving one that brought the arts to different parts of Singapore, from the central business district to the heartlands.


The exhibition saw footfall of approximately 6,150 visitors per week. Within a span of four weeks, there was a huge jump in brand awareness, with word-of-mouth going up by 4.7%. Brand recommendation scores among 30- to 49-year-olds saw a 55% increase. The one-minute film created garnered over 2.2 million combined video views, with over 20% of viewers hitting 100% completion rate on YouTube.

The campaign also racked up 29 pieces of new coverage across lifestyle and trade media, alongside stories from key opinion leaders. Manulife attained a campaign reach of over 4.3 million, generating ad value of SG$46,500 and PR value of close to SG$140,000.  The “exhibition” drove an average of 410 weekly leads, which is five times its weekly average. Manulife also sold more than 3,000 disability protection policies, which is three times its target.



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