How YouTube Helped to “Fix” it for Direct Line

In 2014, we re-positioned Direct Line as the "Fixer" brand: high performance insurance that simply works. Our intent was to reverse the fortunes of a brand in decline and struggling for relevance. We did this by going back to the originating purpose of the insurance category and moving the focus from the point of purchase to the point of need; and we struck gold with the "Winston Wolf" campaign starring Pulp Fiction’s Harvey Keitel. The Winston Wolf character was a great metaphor for our intent and symbolised how we needed to be more "on it" in fixing customers' problems in order to bring the brand promise to life.

We recognised that we needed to do this in a highly integrated way across both traditional and digital channels in order to make the message inescapable. TV remains an incredibly effective channel for us, but we were highly conscious of the rapid growth of the YouTube channel as an emerging way to drive our message. And today with YouTube as a global platform achieving over 1bn video views every day, we feel vindicated in our efforts to be at the leading edge of brands working with the platform.

Our “How to…” series in 2014 featuring Winston Wolf and his ‘cleaner’ sidekick Billy solving everyday problems like removing red wine (blood) stains, showed us the potential of YouTube early on. With 1.7 million views at a completion rate of 15%, well above industry standards, the campaign gave us clear evidence of the value of YouTube.

In addition to showcasing our fixer mentality, YouTube has been a primary channel for a number of brand building activations over the past year – particularly with campaigns that have helped us move perceptions of insurance from a process of restitution towards being a prevention business.

The ability to build positive brand attention is a key attraction of YouTube and is something we observed strongly in our Alfie Deyes campaign in 2016. In this instance, Alfie used our ‘Drive Plus' telematics proposition to improve his driving skills. The app monitors cornering, acceleration and speed and a series of Alfie’s adventures were posted exclusively on Direct Line’s YouTube channel, with a link to his own PointlessBlogsVideo. The campaign achieved 100,000 views and drove uptake of the app amongst the target demographic of young drivers. This made a strong contribution towards our goal to significantly reduce road deaths amongst young drivers in the UK.

With Fleetlights (a fleet of drones with high powered lights to provide a personalised lighting service via a mobile app), we knew that we would appeal to a more tech-oriented audience than previous campaigns. Hence YouTube was the ideal primary channel to bring this to life, achieving a 90% positive sentiment score for the campaign and winning the first two Cannes Lions awards for any insurer globally in over two decades.

YouTube offers scale but also an environment where audiences will watch long form content if it is really engaging. This is why we’ve used it to support many of our other brand activation campaigns, such as The Smart Crossings, Churchill’s Write-off Replacement, and Direct Line’s Onward Travel.

One area in particular where we’ve been able to demonstrate strong effectiveness is with the use of shorter pre-roll ad formats such as bumper ads. These are short enough not to annoy the user despite being unskippable, but enable us to get high completion rates.  We’ve seen an 11% uplift in consideration from 35-44 year old males through contextually relevant pre-rolls.

As a result of these campaigns, YouTube has enabled us to deepen our brand positioning in the eyes of our target customers. Because of this, we were very happy to be the first brand in the UK to introduce OpenSlate to help mitigate the brand safety issues that emerged in 2017, making us confident that we can continue to stay at the forefront of a channel that has become a much bigger part of people's lives in recent years.

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