Hella de Weger – a.s.r.

Hella de Weger – a.s.r.

Hella de Weger is Head of Brand at a.s.r. Insurances. She is responsible for brand portfolio management which includes the brands a.s.r., Ditzo, Loyalis and De Amersfoortse. Hella: “We advise the board of directors on the role our brands play in our portfolio, whether we should have less or more brands in the future and how we position them. Based on the strategy we develop from that, I’m responsible for all the results we need to achieve for our brands. Which includes campaigns, content, creative and corporate identity. In which our most important brand is a.s.r. at this time”

Main KPI’s for brand growth

Hella explains that currently, brand awareness is a.s.r.’s most important KPI for growth. “It has been our key focus for the past 2,5 years, because you can’t improve brand image if awareness is low. But based on the results achieved, we have learned a.s.r. is ready for the next step. Our future objectives will be centred around conveying our offering and brand positioning clearly. Before 2017, we used to do one campaign a year, mainly centred around image. And they were great, well thought out campaigns. But, if nobody recognises you, there’s no point focusing your campaign around image. That’s why we made the decision to grow first, so people will recognise us, and then get back to working on our image.”

Hella goes on to explaining that her department doesn’t have specific objectives related to sales or market share. “My department is part of corporate communication”, Hella continues. “Which also includes public affairs, investor relations and media relations such as PR. They are all related to image. But the marketers that are working in the business lines (life, non-life, mortgages, etc) do have sales objective. This poses an occasional challenge in alignment, but we try to work closely together to make sure both our objectives are achieved in the campaigns.”

Media, creative and research

According to Hella, a.s.r.’s main ingredient for growth is a combination of different elements. “First of all, you need a good strategy. The story we tell, represents who we are. And we spend a lot of time on it. This last year we really started doing more research, so we know what to focus on for next year. Following from that, I believe media, creative and research should all be closely connected. When I first started working here, we operated in silos. Now, we are trying to drop that and integrate these different elements. And it’s really working for us.”

Media investments

Hella: “We have a long-term strategy, and we want to build on that, but because we are a relatively young brand, you see that our media investments influence the short term. Together with our agencies, we are optimising these investments, so we keep contributing to our long-term goals. Before, when we launched 1 campaign a year, our brand awareness increased from 40 to 60%, where after it would drop again. Now, we are present on a regular basis. We still see a slight drop in between campaigns, but it’s much less than before and it ensures we structurally grow.”

More than just data

“I don’t necessarily see myself as a creative person”, Hella continues. “So, data enables me to make the right decisions in media and creatives. One thing I value a lot when it comes to research agencies, is when they are able to do more than just provide data, and give us actionable deliverables. It’s all about working closely together. Like I said before, media, creative and research should all be connected, so data can help in determining what the next steps should be. However, I feel people should sometimes just trust themselves and their own gut feeling. Research can sometimes be very confusing when one study tells you one thing, and the other tells you differently.”

Innovating in media

In the topic of innovation, a.s.r. mostly looks at social when it comes to new ways of communicating with their target group. “We look at Instagram, although it holds quite a young target audience. We are also testing on Snapchat, and follow the social trends closely. Facebook is still a very important channel for us – although people tell us it’s getting smaller – it’s still an important channel to reach people.”

“When it comes to new technologies, I’m sometimes torn”, Hella continues. “On the one hand, I feel like we should be in front, and on the other hand, I question how much one needs to invest to get to that point, and how much it will bring you in the end. If you position your brand as an innovator, fair enough. But we don’t necessarily position ourselves as such. We do innovate, but we don’t aim to be the most innovative company in financial services. We much more want to be clear, simple and humble to our customers and help develop solutions related to our core business that solve (or contribute to solve) a society issue. Next to that, the role of intermediaries is still very prominent, and impacts the way we communicate. We hardly ever included call-to-actions, because we thought people just let themselves be advised. But because we are bigger and more known now, we hear from intermediaries that people specifically ask for a.s.r. because of our social role. Where we thought before we don’t have that influence, we now see the opposite. It works. So, we are definitely continuing this path in the future.”

A different time

In December 2018, a.s.r. received the ‘Loden Leeuw’ for their commercial with rapper Sticks. Hella: “When I first heard we were nominated; I was in a bit of a shock. But soon after that I thought, this is an opportunity. Our response to our ‘win’ got us a lot of positive reactions. At that time, we were already working on our new campaign proposition for the next 3 years. The economy was doing well, people were just more positive. So, we thought it was a perfect time to change our tone of voice, which we have done with our new commercials.”

Hella: “Because we wanted to keep our brand awareness high, we continued with several elements from the previous campaigns such as keeping rapper Sticks in our commercials. He is important for our brand linkage, and we want to stay recognisable and consistent. But at the same time, we decided to give him a less prominent role, and focus more on our brand. We always discuss a social matter in our commercials, with the corresponding solution by a.s.r. And always in a positive light, using our ‘Dit is de tijd van doen’ theme. And I’m happy to say that the impact of the new campaigns has been very positive as a result.”