Meerkats breaks new HBF Health campaign

Comments (55)
HBF_TV09_1.jpgMeerkats' long-awaited and much anticipated new campaign for HBF broke on Sunday, with three emotion-charged 60-second TVCs delivering the core message "Your health is all that matters".

Watch the TVCs here.
Over the past decade or so, the private health insurance industry in WA has become rife with discount competitors and a promotional mindset. These are invariably private companies aiming at lofty sales targets in the lucrative WA market.

The effect over time has been to diminish the value of the entire private health insurance industry. After years of being told that health insurance can be bought for the cost of a cup of coffee, people have placed it in the same mental folder as car insurance; a necessary but negative purchase that they seldom see the value of.

As a not-for-profit organisation, HBF felt it was time to re-frame the entire category; to invite consumers to consider their priorities in life. Health insurance, after all, is the only product you can spend your money on that can actually save your life, your limbs, your children.

The objective of this campaign is to remind everyone that "Your health is all that matters". It is the result of 8 months of insight work deep inside HBF and the medical industry by Meerkats planning dept. The advertising component that people are seeing now is the tip of an internal brand iceberg that has included 8 focus groups and dozens of one-to-one interviews, and more recently 22 staff workshops, 3 all-staff presentations at the Playhouse, the printing of a paperback book for every staff member, and more.

This is true "brand within" thinking, where the Big Idea is not just about a great telly ad, it's about creating a motivating brand idea that can re-focus, re-energise and motivate an entire organisation. "Your health is all that matters" is the lens through which the brand of HBF, and everyone within it, now views the world and its role within it.

The external launch campaign involves television, radio, magazine and digital marketing, along with branch POS, head office fit-out, and more.  The TV commercials were directed by Niki Caro, director of the award-winning movie Whalerider.

The new, empathetic brand tone-of-voice (some would say "sobering") being expressed in the advertising is also being reflected in a new brand visual style, with a focus on having a meaningful, authentic and heartfelt dialogue with consumers, members and staff about this most important of all purchases.

Client Credits:
General Manager, Communications: John LeCras
Group Marketing Manager: Sam McFarlane
Brand Manager, Health: Agata Sleeman
Brand Consultant, Health: Amie Dyer
 
Agency Credits:
Planning Director: Ronnie Duncan
Creative Director: Mike Edmonds
Channel Planner: Mark Pinney
Account Director: Jim Groves
Copywriter: Kurt Beaudoin
Art Directors: Jon Jungwirth, Rodrigo Cassini, Carolina Rodriguez
Producers: Sam Rees, Brooke Marshall

Production Credits:
Film Company: Flying Fish
Director: Niki Caro
DOP: Russell Boyd
Producer: Paul Freidman
Photography: Virginia Woods Jack

55 Comments

Anonymous said:

this is awful...!! i can see the strategy behind it but scaring ppl into joining hbf? hbf wont cure your sick child, or was he poisoned by two-day-old lamb chops? at least hbf could offer incentives to help you keep your health, such as free gym membership or 100% rebates on specialist appts so people can afford to visit the specialist rather than putting it off

Smiley face man said:

Wow. Beautiful ads. Favorite is 'Working Less'. Fantastic job!

Anonymous said:

I understand the thought, but it's just a big company using people's heartbreak to sell some shit.

Is HBF going to fix your situation? No.
Is HBF going to get you better treatment? Probably not.
Is HBF going to save you money? Sure, but "you'd give it all to her in a heartbeat if she would just get better".

Beautiful film making though.

Anonymous said:

Fucking gorgeous.

Good shit.

Anonymous said:

Amazing work. Brings all the realities home.
Maybe HBF should finance/support the appointment of doctors and nurses to really give a meaningful return to their customers and to back up the claims inferred in the campaign. Their rates could be 50% higher, but it'd work its arse off.
There's a channel planning idea for free.


Anonymous said:

Looking at all involved, it's clear the new campaign is the typical output of any committee...Very dark and not my cup of tea but I'm not swimming in the lofty 'channel planning' pond.

Anonymous said:

I really like it. Instead of focusing on the happy-happy-we're-all-great let's jump in the air attitude, it addresses what is actually the reality for sick people which most insurance companies don't seem to want to acknowledge. Plus, awesome talent and beautifully shot. Well done all.

Jen Why said:

I can't wait to see the retail executions (literally) How about "Buy before they die"?


Jen Why said:

I can't wait to see the retail executions (literally) How about "Buy before they die"?


Smiley face man said: said:

My confidence is shot to pieces..... another big production job gone east!

Anonymous said:

Bring back Ted!

Scepticemia said:

Clearly those actors aren't the only ones dying a slow painful death. This campaign feels like the desperate last throws of a health provider who was ill prepared for competition. So they resort to crude emotional blackmail. I feel like I've been manipulated in a really inappropriate way. Like a doctor anally examining my tonsils.
Sure the ads are emotive, beautifully written and crafted, and they did remind me that health is all important, but HiF have intentionally made me feel sad and there's no good cause to justify their actions. If they were the Cancer Council I would forgive them for their intrusion, but as a corporation, their lack of integrity sickens me.

Not meerkats or 303 said:

What a shame. The old hbf were some of the nicest ads around. They made you feel good which is what health insurance is all about. Sure the campaign needeed refreshing but this is depressing stuff

Jen Why said:

I can't wait to see the retail executions (literally) How about "Buy before they die"?


Anonymous said:

Sounds like the voice over is "beached as bro!"
Anything wrong with Aussie talent bro?

Anonymous said:

Like mini-movies on the TV. Better than that happy music stuff. You should do a Nescafé and make them all mini-soap operas, air them during Grey's Anatomy and you're set!

Anonymous said:

"Your health is all that matters" ..... so eat fish and chips. Eh?

Anonymous said:

two art directors too many.

Anonymous said:

i think this is top drawer and a great start as a brand ad. it's not designed to sell products, it's not designed to scare people into gettin health insurance and its not positioning hbf as the cure for cancer.

it is simply saying 'there's nothing more important than your health' written in an empathetic tone that people facing these issues would understand. it positions hbf as sympathetic and there to help.

the real challenge with this will be the making the step from brand advertising to selling products and the more tactical executions.

a strong step forward for hbf after years of selling messages.

Anonymous said:

These are beautifully shot and the thought is interesting.

It makes me feel a bit angry as the ad is using fear to push a brand agenda, but I'd love to see what the general public takeout is. We shall see.

Anonymous said:

These are beautifully shot and the thought is interesting.

It makes me feel a bit angry as the ad is using fear to push a brand agenda, but I'd love to see what the general public takeout is. We shall see.

Anonymous said:

These ads are so depressing. As a mother, I can't bear to watch them. If I saw them on tv I'd change channels.

Anonymous said:

It's Spring, a time of year where the weather is warmer, birds are chirping and people are happier. These ads are horrible! They are very dark and very depressing, something people just don't need or want to see.

Anonymous said:

Beautiful ads, great acting, fabulous film making and it hits pretty hard. But what is the idea? What is the point of difference? It feels like they're using emotional blackmail, but to what end?

It's a huge jump from 'i like you', and quite random when there have been all these retail ads in the market for HBF car insurance etc. I'm confused. What do they stand for?

Anonymous said:

Im sad now ;(

Anonymous said:

This kind of approach will turn people off. I prefer every previous HBF campaign.

Anonymous said:

It's clear that nobody involved in this really knows what it's like to have a sick kid or a dying partner. Romantic crap that just pisses me off. I'm with HBF but not for long.

Anonymous said:

Are you with HBF?

Best line ever written in Perth. (Thanks Dick)

Bring it back i say.

Junk Waffle 2000 said:

Moderator on holidays?

Anonymous said:

4:28 - I thought that "your health is all that matters" is a pretty compelling idea?? Agree that hbf is gone straight for the heart strings on this one, but it got me thinking about not sweating the small stuff. Since hbf are the only ones saying it, then yeah, i'd say it's a point of difference.

Anonymous said:

There was plenty of bleating on the previous HBF/Meerkats blog on the evil of work heading East. But given most of the major agencies in this town send the majority of their larger budgeted television productions interstate I shouldn't really be surprised that that is less of a concern here. ... Hypocrites.

Anonymous said:

22 staff workshops? Jesus Christ. No wonder the ads are depressing.

Seriously though, I agree, there is something manipulative about using pain and suffering, that many real people are actually going through, to sell insurance.

Beautifully shot, well directed, nicely paced with a great sense of narrative, but they still send an uncomfortable message.

Anonymous said:

9:15 I'm with you - As an HBF member, I find the one with the husband in the CT scanner particularly offensive, considering HBF does not cover outpatient CT Scans... take it from someone who has been there - HBF does not help things get back to normal.

Think it's time to call Medibank Private!

Anonymous said:

I can guarantee you that anyone who has been through the hell of treatments such as those shown on these new HBF ads will find this offensive. Comments that say otherwise come from self righteous creatives or the fortunate people who have never had to have, or watch a loved one have such treatments...

Anonymous said:

Good job done for the category.

Anonymous said:

9.16 I preferred " I feel better now".

Miss KY said:

Nice production - was the vaseline on the lens expensive.

Anonymous said:

Amen to that brother! 12:15pm you tell the truth like it is! Even photo-shoots go east for the models. TV goes east for the actors. Only thing that stays here is poor ol' radio! Theatre of the Mind. We got something.

Anonymous said:

If high-end/big budget TV is heading East for the on-screen talent then the agencies and clients are getting stiffed. It'd be much cheaper to fly the talent to Perth and use local production companies, crews, equipment and facilities. I'd say it's got more to do with star-fucking creatives wanting to rub shoulders with so called rock star directors. That and a couple of days away from the wife and kids.

Anonymous said:

Sorry to say it again, but it's just toooooo depressing! Who the hell wants to be reminded there is a good chance we, or someone we love might die of cancer so we better have health insurance??????

I also recognised the Husband / talent from other ads so it lost cred.

Bring back Ted - great device

Anonymous said:

I can't believe how negative you all are.

Most of us would kill to be involved in a process like this. One that dedicates so much time and attention to getting to the source of issues requiring attention and then working together with clients to produce beautiful, thought-provoking outputs.

Most of us in advertising in WA roll out shit because we bow to self-serving creatives who want the accolades, or we let the client tell us how our job is best done. We allow mediocre to be our standard and then shit on something that is clearly better because deep-down we're jealous.

Personally I'd kill to work at Meerkats. Besides taking a falling star and putting them into glass jars, they have produced the best work of the year. The rest of us need to look at the bigger picture of this whole campaign and try and emulate it, rather than producing the star-burst laden, slash-and-burn, get-quick-sales-now retail bullshit that Perth is becoming inundated with.

And to those people who are ridiculously talking about bringing back Ted because he was a good device, or referring to "are you with HBF". advertising into this century clearly isn't for you... Time to find a job in an old ladies fashion boutique where your ideas will seem current!

Anonymous said:

8.30. They may be beuatifully shot, well acted nicely crafted pieces (which they are). They may provoke thought, especially when yoou actively sit down and watch all three on an industry website like this. but this doesn't change the fact that the overall vibe is depressing. These are the kind os ads that make you change the channel, especially when you have to sit thru a whole minute everytime.

So you say you'd kill to work at meerkats, watch these ads a few times and you may kill yourself before the job offer comes through.

Anonymous said:

8.30 Putting things in jars....oh you mean similar to that American ad!
I like Meerkats and the way they have structured the business - 'Forward thinking'. Not too many tardy heavyweight pinstripe suits around the place.
Good luck to you all, and don't forget to come over to our table at the PADC for a chat.

Anonymous said:

1.23. Gritty slice of life ads showing the way sickness effect loved ones... Just like every bloody cancer, smoking, charity ad in history. And then they tag it to an insurance ad. Call me cynical but I reckon these minute long self indulgent self important ads will not go down well with the punterS

Anonymous said:

For those who are reacting to this campaign in the mentality of "these ads make me angry, HBF can't cure cancer or bring a sick child out of a coma", I think you're maybe missing the point. HBF aren't necessarily saying that they can cure sick people just because they take out health insurance, rather I believe what they're trying to reiterate is that by already having insurance as a safety net, you or your loved one will be provided with the best possible care when you need it most, and you won't have to worry about astronomical bills because your insurance will cover it (or most of it, anyway)

I'm a HBF member and I wouldn't be without my insurance now. I know many people see it as a grudge purchase, but when I needed surgery in 2007 my HBF hospital insurance meant that all my bills were covered (which ended up being over $20k) and I was admitted for surgery just a few days after seeing my specialist. Had I not had my HBF insurance, I was told that the waiting list for the surgery in a public hospital would have been 9-12 months at least.

These ads may be completely different to anything HBF has done before but I think it's their strongest brand campaign to date. I find it (scarily) easy to visualise people I know and love in each one of the situations depicted in the ads, and it really does make you take stock of what's important. People may not like to be confronted with that type of imagery, particularly from a corporation who until now has used 'happy' devices like Ted and a catchy jingle, but at the end of the day HBF are right - your health is all that matters!

The TVC's themselves are beautifully shot and I personally would love to work on a campaign like that - and anyone who is bitter simply because Meerkats got the gig should take a moment to ask themselves why.. jealous maybe? I don't work for Meerkats but that doesn't mean I feel the need to hate everything they do, I think their work in general is superb and they deserve real kudos for this latest offering. I say 'keep up the good work guys' - and I'm looking forward to seeing future HBF executions if this first lot is anything to go by.

Anonymous said:

These look great.

But as someone who has seen a family member die from cancer I know that public health funding and resources is used to try and bring people back from the brink. In fact I would be interested what HBFs response to a terminally ill (or even a non-terminal) cancer patient would be if they tried to sign up for health insurance.

I think the sentiment (Your health is all that matters.) is right, but the way these ads are executed makes it seem to me that HBF in some way help and contribute to curing terminal illness.

As your article says, "Health insurance, after all, is the only product you can spend your money on that can actually save your life, your limbs, your children.". But whether you have private or not, our public health system will treat you the exact same way in the cases of emergency life threatening illness. We are not America yet thank god.

Anonymous said:

High productions values, well executed in a technical sense but what is the link between having HBF insurance and what these sad stories are saying? Where is the reassurance to negate the fear shown?

Does anyone at the agency or client understand social psychology and social cognition in order to understand why fear rarely works as a communications platform?

The previous HBF retail ads showed 2 things in my view - get on and have a life safe in the knowledge that should an illness/accident strike then you don't need to worry HBF has you covered and secondly that prevention is better than cure and you get rewarded for positive actions like gym membership etc.

The corporate ads had the focus on its staff and the high level of customer service.

Combined these really make a powerful statement.

Dont feel sorry for HBF as a not for profit - it has around 900,000 members in the state and has branched out into financial services.

Maybe they just need better research.....whomever is doing it as the lead up to the ad development is just not cutting it - garbage in, garbage out, perhaps?

John Le Cras - General Manager Communications, HBF. said:

Dear 1.03pm,

Thanks for your comments, I appreciate your point of view... especially given what you've experienced personally. Perhaps to answer your question: Health insurance in Australia is completely the opposite to the American system. The US system is risk-rated which means insurers can refuse to cover a person because of the risk-factors. This cannot happen in Australia because health insurance is governed by the opposite principle called "community rating".

Community rating means everyone is offered cover regardless of risk factors like age, family history even lifestyle factors like smoking. As a not-for-profit fund, HBF is a passionate supporter of community rating. The only restriction applies to people serving out waiting periods for pre-existing conditions - these are usually 12 months - and these are imposed by every health insurer in Australia.

Although applying pre-existing conditions may appear callous, they are designed to provide fairness to all contributors and to stop individuals from taking out insurance, making no contribution to the funds pool, making a large claim and then immediately dropping cover and leaving.

This would be grossly unfair to existing members, especially elderly members who would be forced to pay higher premiums to cover the cost of these "hit and runs".

I agree the public system in Australia is fantastic. But it has stresses and strains and the public system sits along side a community-rated private system that provides critical balance. I also know that being diagnosed with cancer is incredibly stressful. I watched my dad die of cancer four years ago and then discovered I had the same cancer six months ago, for which I am undergoing treatment.

The purpose of the advertising is to remind people of the simple fact that making provision for your health IS something that cannot be taken for granted...it just matters too much.

Regards,

John Le Cras

Anonymous said:

Everyone agrees they are beautifully created and also very dark and depressing.

But one major point to remember is that if you need to explain an ad, then it just doesn't work!

We can listen to HBF explain why they went down this path and how its separating HBF from the pack and explaining the importance of hospital cover, but when the average joe at home sees the ad and considers it offensive or depressing, it misses the mark. Do your research HBF and know your customers, not your creative agency.

Anonymous said:

As per anonymous' comment on Sept 23 at 1:54pm - what needs explaining? I think it's fairly obvious what the message is here. Also, I thought the idea behind a good ad was to get noticed - you can't argue that this campaign hasn't got noticed. What's given you the impression it wasn't researched? The article above notes that research was done and that their campaign was the result of a long process.
I suspect many of these comments are from previous agencies and bitter creatives.

Ajay said:

My children were really touched by this ad and it grabbed their attention. It had a real impact on us and we really enjoyed watching the ad. We were expecting some bloke to be looking after himself and in reality he was focused on his sick wife (you bloke out there get the drift). Wish some blokes would sit up and take notice - there is a real message in this ad.

Anonymous said:

this is a great example of a client switching agencies resulting in hugely different creative and strategy.... big change, bold move. But will consumers respond and will it have an effect on your brand?

Fish said:

Unfortunately this campaign is driven from a recent bout of cancer victims inside meerkat. While sympathetic to the people affected, it does speak to the self indulgence of the agency.
the account directors, (salesman) who sold the campaign to ex news COF - john le cras, should be proud of himself as john would have been licking his lips at seeing such dire circumstances brought to life and pushed in front of the publics face. unfortunately john, this isnt news and brand is everything. You have lost this battle, and ironically implanted a tumour inside HBF's brand which will be hard for people to forget.
Sorry guys, you have totally missed the mark and I sincerely hope i am wrong for meerkats sake.

Anonymous said:

Ironic reading these comments now, in light of their 2010 win at Cannes.

Anonymous said:

It's incredible to be reading these posts in 2012 about a campaign that has stuck in my memory for over three years. I personally believe these ads are masterpieces. They touched me then and they still touch me now. This campaign is designed to remind you what the most important things in life are and why health insurance exists in the first place, to make sure you and your loved ones have the best level of care possible. I don't find them depressing at all. They're inspiring. They remind me to be grateful for everything I have. I hope the critics are hanging their heads in shame now. All you've done is make life harder for people to create great work in this state

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