This Business Insurer Surprisingly Applauds Risk Taking

New ads for Hiscox feature gutsy entrepreneurs

In a break with its peers, business insurer Hiscox is running full force into risk.

The company's new campaign from Doremus features men and women who took chances to open and expand their own businesses, be it an architectural firm or gym. The tagline is "Encourage courage."

Hiscox, a U.K. player that entered the U.S. market six years ago, competes with the likes of Zurich Insurance Group and Beazley. Typically, insurance ads talk about minimizing risk not embracing it. But Doremus thought the counterintuitive strategy would better distinguish the company and reflect its ethos, said Allison Womack, the agency's New York president.

"They have a saying [at Hiscox]: Don't hide behind the parapet," Womack said. "It's about doing the right thing and seizing the opportunity."

Hiscox U.S. CEO Ben Walter, meanwhile, "wanted the campaign to be a knee in the back" of his employees, Womack added.

Walter, like other leaders at Hiscox, including chief marketing officer Russ Findlay, came from outside the insurance industry. The CEO used to be a senior director of consumer credit and CRM at Banana Republic, and Findlay was a marketing director at Pepsi. So, that may also explain the more aggressive, less insurance-like approach.

The campaign includes print and banner ads, online video, a new website and even a deck of cards. The cards feature motivational sayings on one side and images of art from Hiscox' New York office on the other. Decks were distributed to some 300 staffers in the U.S.

Media spending on the campaign—the first from Doremus since it inherited Hiscox' creative business from DDB in the spring—is estimated at $10-15 million. PHD is the insurer's media agency.