Norwich Union has become…Prudential?

After what seems like months of telling us that Norwich Union is renaming itself Aviva, the company has at last come out with its first stand-alone advertising campaign.

Gone are all references to Norwich Union. Instead, the company seems to be referencing a highly successful poster campaign from another financial services company. Unintentional, I’m sure. The Prudential campaign dates from the 1990s, so no one working in advertising now would have been alive to see it.

An ad from Avivas new poster campaign

An ad from Aviva's new poster campaign

An ad from Prudentials old poster campaign

An ad from Prudential's old poster campaign. Pic courtesy advertisingarchives.co.uk

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5 Comments

Filed under Ill-informed advertising observations

5 responses to “Norwich Union has become…Prudential?

  1. My god! You’re right.

    I can totally see the very tenuous resemblance if I squint and look directly away from both pictures.

    *runs away*

    • bravenewmalden

      Come back. Sit down. Look. No, open your eyes and look. Both ads are for financial services companies. Both are written in the first person. Both use copy only (apart from the logos). And both exploit the opportunities or restrictions presented by the media in which they appear in order to make their point. See?

  2. I see what you’re saying from the point of view of an advertising professional. But in purely commercial terms, surely no one is going to be sitting on platform three of Earlsfield station on a Saturday afternoon and thinking ‘they’re just ripping off a 1990s first-person, copy-only advert from another financial institution, which exploits the opportunities and restrictions presented by the media in which they appear in order to make their point. I know, I’ll take my critical illness (heaven forbid) insurance to somewhere with more original advertising.’ Apart, possibly, from someone who works in advertising.

    There’s some (quite possibly indefensible) assertion that there are only seven jokes in existence, and that every joke is a variant of one or other of them. If that were true, perhaps the same could be said of advertising…

    • bravenewmalden

      You’re probably right that most people outside advertising wouldn’t realise that the Aviva campaign idea is the same as Prudential’s. But that’s partly because the campaigns are 15 years apart. If they’d appeared simultaneously or within weeks of each other, the reaction might be different. If, straight after Cadbury’s ‘Gorilla’ ad, Heinz or Kodak ran an almost identical idea (knowing parodies aside), people would wonder what on earth is going on.

      So maybe it’s OK to do the same thing that’s been done before, but not too soon. Leave a respectable interval.

      Of course, the people who came up with the Aviva ads might never have heard of the Prudential ones. They might never have seen them in their library of advertising annuals, and nor had their creative director, the account managers or the Aviva client. Or they had and, like you, thought that it didn’t matter one jot. But the thing that prevents most advertising people from knowingly echoing someone else’s work is provided by that one word: the much-scorned ‘creative’. What a grey old world it would be if people, those whacky ad johnnies included, didn’t strive to produce work that was fresh and original rather than tired and derivative.

      Having said that, it is notoriously difficult to make any sort of claim in financial ads as clients keep cages full of compliance monkeys armed with that most dangerous combination of red pens and opposable thumbs. That’s why the ads end up saying things like ‘We’ve changed our name!’ and ‘We try to meet minimum standards of helpfulness!’ and ‘If you want to profit from the stock market, that’s probably better than making a loss!’. (Although this one would no doubt need an asterisk and some caveats.)

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