The gloves are off in the fight for insurance advertising!!

I still remember very well the advertising battle between 4 prominent vehicle manufacturers in 2007. The ad campaigns congratulating themselves focus on some kind of achievement – whether that be winning the award of Car Of the Year, World Car of the Year, Le Mans Winner or Engine of the Year in 2006!

The ads were greeted by the public with a smile – and even though this might be somewhat controversial, might still be regarded as a fight with the gloves still on! Bentley in their reponse might however have taken the gloves off….:)

Response from Bentley

What would we regard as an advertising battle with the “Gloves off”?

When we refer to a fight with the “gloves off” we refer to a fight that might get nasty, bloody and where there is a lack of strictly applied rules.  In an advertising battle this might occur where the advertiser prefers not to focus on his own strengths – but rather on the reasons why a competitor should be ignored and the advertised product chosen instead. It might also be more direct – and directly attack a specific other brand or product!

To ensure that there is no fighting without gloves the Advertising Standards Authority monitors advertising in South Africa. The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (also known as the ASA) is an independent body set up and paid for by the marketing communication industry to ensure that its system of self-regulation works in the public interest.

Companies who believe that the advertising by competitors is in breach with fair competition may approach the ASA for a formal ruling.

In the tough and highly competitive insurance industry advertisers are in a continuous battle to gain market share and this means that they have to take the market share away from another. With this in mind the creative minds at advertising agencies devise clever strategies to bring the attention of consumers to their own products. If this includes a reference to the products of competitors, or even the advertising campaigns of competitors, then so be it…

Recently in South Africa there were2 ads that caught the eye where Insurers indirectly or directly refer to competitors:

–          The MiWay Ad asks the question  – “Is your insurer expecting you to do crazy stuff to get your bonus?” This might be deemed to reflect on the Outsurance success in paying the OUTbonus to clients for not claiming. Outsurance has recently featured ads around what people have done with their bonuses and also the milestone of having paid R1billion in bonuses. MiWay will argue that this emphasizes their product and that a bonus might be paid whether you claim or not…

–          Perhaps a better example is the response by Dial Direct to the new Santam ad with Ben Kingsley and “similar looking” gentlemen walking on the beach, telling consumers about the need to find insurance “good and proper”. Dial Direct has replied with the same beach background using doubles of the “yadayada” people also clothed in dark suits walking on a beach…

When does an ad infringe on the right of competitor?

Clause 9 of the Code of the Advertising Standards Authority stipulates that:

“An advertiser should not copy an existing advertisement, local or international, or any part thereof in a manner that is recognizable or clearly evokes the existing concept and which may result in the likely loss of potential advertising value. This will apply not-withstanding the fact that there is no likelihood of confusion or deception or that the existing concept has not been generally exposed”.


Whether advertisements are in contravention of this code is a matter for the legal people to decide. They might not be too sensitive however – to quote Tom Cruise in Jerry MaGuire  – “We live in a world of tough tough competitors!!”

Insurance advertising should always be competitive – and the consumer, whilst in need of protection from not being misled – will always enjoy the ingenuity and creativity of our brilliant minds in advertsing!!

Perhaps the fighters might have one glove off every now and then… 🙂

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