PERTH: Of the entire population of Western Australia, HBF has almost one in two people as members - or 65% actual market share. So why the hell is it tinkering with the brand?
To help it move beyond health and into new areas, according to Sean Lee, account director at 303, the agency that has spent the past 15 months buried in the company's brand. A mutual organisation - Western Australia's largest - HBF began life as the Hospital Benefits Fund but has since morphed into the largest provider of health insurance in the state with nearly 900,000 members of WA's 2.2 million-odd population, or 65% market share. Also a growing player in home, car and travel insurance, HBF now has its eyes on a move into finance and, following a soft-launch into the sector last year, several 2006 roll-outs are planned. The problem, Lee said, is that years of positioning the organisation as a health leader, with its happy "Ted" family icon, hampered possible growth in any other area. "HBF is one of WA's most recognised brands but it's known for its heritage in health," Lee said. "So what we've done is reposition the brand at a corporate level so that people think of us as an organisation that is about people, not health; that no matter where we go in the future, our focus will always be on people." In a market saturated with "caring bank ads", however, the cheese factor was a risk. "While research showed the brand was capable of achieving those goals, it also showed execution would be difficult," Lee said. "Trying to communicate a genuine passion for people can look cheesy and unbelievable, and so our biggest challenge was to ensure it was seen as real." After winning the branding and finance accounts in late 2004, 303's branding arm UffindellWest set to work on how to stretch the HBF positioning onto a wider platform. Over the past month, the first of several 2006 branding campaigns have dominated Perth's free-to-air TV coverage in a series of ads showing everyday people involved in less-than-perfect behaviour: burying their rubbish in the sand, for example, or leaving chewing gum on a bus seat. In the end-shots of one execution, however, a man helps a woman carry her pram down an endless flight of steps; in another, a woman helps a man pick up the contents of his spilt briefcase. "Good people aren't so hard to find," reads the end-sell, "You just need to know where to look." Perth-based creative agency Gatecrasher handles the health and general insurance accounts for HBF.
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