Free Lingerie Babes Calendar with any Insurance Policy!... Pardon?

Share Article details the apparent free-fall from conservative to "anything-goes" in the attitude of insurers when it comes to marketing their products. Have some insurers taken their marketing strategies too far? Are half-naked girls the best way to promote van and motorcycle insurance policies?

How sexy can insurance be? A question also asked by Lloyds TSB recently who underlined the traditionalism in the industry, and the emphasis on creating a sense of security and safety among its customers. Their article was highly critical of insurance companies using sexual imagery to sell their products, even expressing disapproval of Liverpool Victoria using the term "love" in its re-branding as LV=. The writer, Andrew Cave, directed his ire predominantly at direct and budget insurers for sinking to tabloid level marketing strategies. took at look at some insurers that employ these "tabloid" marketing tactics and found that they seem to only target, what are perceived as being, male-dominated insurance arenas such as van insurance and motorcycle insurance.

The Budget van insurance website features, for example, include a "dream date" calendar of lingerie-clad girls, a video game (where the reward for throwing a traffic warden far enough is to have a woman go topless) and an etiquette guide for white van drivers (that includes advice such as not showing one's rear end when bending over).

The company is quite outward with its marketing strategies with a recent and widely publicised event where men could have their cars/vans washed by models dressed in tight-fitting clothes. The event was tied to a charity, the NSPCC which received £500, thus avoiding any real criticism from the press for the stunt.

Is Budget correct in it's assumption that it's customer base largely consists of people who drive their vans to transport construction material or get from one plumbing job to the next? Are all van driver's office walls lined with Page 3 posters? insurance news editor, Michael Beverley, said: "Every insurer has a right to market their products in any way they feel will help their business grow ... and although the stereo-typical portrayal of van drivers and motorcyclists is itself slightly objectional, the main concern is that both industries are those where the percentage of female customers is increasing very quickly. Nuts, Zoo, FHM and other men's magazines will never really target women - but insurers should, and if they don't want to miss out on a growing market they may have to change their strategy very soon."

Of course, Budget are not the only firm employing such marketing tactics. Bennetts have taken their share of saucy headlines with host of "men's interest" images, videos and competitions to market their motorcycle insurance -- including an 18-rated video clip of women in their underwear riding a mechanical motorbike (that for some reason jerks like a mechanical bull) whilst water is sprayed onto them.

It must be said, though, that despite these insurer's online flaunting of their chosen marketing route, we have yet to see these images appearing widely in mainstream TV adverts. It would be interesting to find out the reaction of wives and girlfriends in general if they found out their partner's insurer sent them a calendar of lingerie models as an introductory gift or that the insurance was purchased only after viewing a "bucking bike babes" video clip.

Mr Beverley continued: "Our research indicates that there is a large number of women who are not phased by the use of female sexuality in the marketing of insurance products, but such is not likely to be an actual attraction to them. A better strategy, if insurers are hell-bent on maintaining this type of marketing, may be to create a men-only insurance product separate from their main brand - such as Sheilas Wheels is from Esure or Diamond is from Admiral."

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Michael Beverley
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