Life Insurance  

Protection industry calls for rethink of 1950s-style ‘sexist’ ads

Protection industry calls for rethink of 1950s-style ‘sexist’ ads

Protection experts have rallied together to call out the 1950s-style “sexist” adverts insurers and lead generation firms still often rely on to sell insurance products.

Kevin Carr, chief executive of Protection Review and former co-chairman of the Income Protection Task Force, told FTAdviser he has spoken “to a number of people” about protection advertising this year, and encountered a lot of frustration.

He was responding to a couple of recent life insurance adverts depicting stereotypes of men and women. 

Candid, a life insurance lead generation firm, through its brand for mums ‘Polly’, had shared a post on Twitter accusing women of spending all their “hard-earned cash” on clothes, underwear and make-up.

It also shared a male-equivalent advert through its dad-focused brand ‘Tom’, which accused men of spending all their money on pizza, beer and gambling.

The firm had already run into hot water with the ASA last month, after one of its life insurance adverts about death aired in the middle of children's cartoon scheduling.

Carr said everyone, from the insurers and introducers to the buyers, should consider their involvement when it comes to dealing with sexist or misplaced adverts. 

“Under Advertising Standards Agency rules, the buyer of the lead is accountable as well as the lead generator, so any adviser or brokers buying protection leads should take care and look at more than just the cost,” he said.

Candid’s managing director and founder, Matthew Edwards, told FTAdviser the two adverts sparking accusations of “sexism” had been its “best-performing ads for the last three months”.

He added 75 per cent of Candid’s marketing department was female, and that the adverts in question had been designed by women.

Kathryn Knowles, managing director at Cura Financial Services, said: “We are in the modern century and it feels like this is from the 1950s, when we saw adverts for men buying vacuum cleaners for the little lady in their life.

“I find it sexist. Yes, I buy clothes and eyeliner. But the advert certainly feels like they are saying women are frivolous with money and don't know what they are doing.”

Knowles believes more daring ads are often designed to engage younger buyers, and while engaging with younger generations is essential to ensure their financial wellbeing, Knowles said relying on stereotypes was “offensive”.

Stephanie Hydon, head of strategic partnerships at life insurance software provider iPipeline, said adding to inappropriate adverts were those that failed to reflect the diversity of people in this country.

She told FTAdviser: “When looking at images that we use in our industry, we still often portray the stereotypical white nuclear family, yet this is not a reflection of our society."

In an era of “unprecedented access to data”, Hydon thinks it’s high-time the insurance industry “get better” at using it to truly provide personalised messages that are inclusive and representative of society today.