How retiring Winston Wolfe allowed Direct Line to go up-brand

Ditching its highly successful ‘Fixer’ campaign for a new creative approach was a risk that Direct Line did not expect to pay off as quickly as it did.

After delivering five consecutive years of growth, winning two gold IPA effectiveness awards and rescuing the business from jeopardy, Direct Line knew its ‘Fixer’ campaign and Winston Wolfe would be a tough act to follow. Even though the Fixer was still performing exceptionally well, the insurance company was aware of its limitations and knew it had to do something different in order to fulfil the growth potential of the brand.

In March 2020, Direct Line and creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi launched ‘We’re On It’ – a campaign featuring superheroes Bumblebee the transformer, Robocop and Donatello from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The aim was to stage a conversation about the Direct Line brand and allow it to talk about the breadth of problems it could solve better than its competitors.

Overnight, ‘We’re On It’ exceeded expectations and performed well across every possible metric, including advertising, brand and trading performance. Even the Fixer had taken almost a year to work to its full strength – and without the added challenge of the pandemic.

Since the new campaign, brand TV has been around 20% more effective at driving quotes and sales than the Fixer and short-term ROI has improved by 4%. Advertising recognition for We’re On It is also significantly higher than the Kantar average of 33%, with Bumblebee scoring 62%, Robocop 55% and Donatello 53%.

We’re On It, which won Direct Line the 2021 Marketing Week Masters award for Financial Services – and the Grand Prix – is delivering improvements to brand metrics and associations as well. Among small business audiences the campaign has lifted spontaneous awareness by six points and first choice consideration by two points, while the score for ‘are best at solving problems’ has risen by 3.8 points, ‘goes beyond what you would expect from an insurer’ by 4.7 points, and ‘will sort out claims more efficiently than any other insurance providers’ by 4.2 points.



Case study: Patagonia’s ‘Don’t buy this jacket’ campaign

Josie Allchin

Outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia was founded by climbing enthusiast Yvon Chouinard in 1973 and is using a marketing strategy which could be thought of as being part nudge, part shock tactics. The company initially made climbing equipment but changed its philosophy to focus on environmentally-sound products after Chouinard realised his climbing tools were causing damage to rocky cliff faces.