Behind the scenes: Bingle's parachuting CGI monkey

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 23 March 2015

Suncorp relaunched its budget insurance brand Bingle at the start of the year – the core of the launch campaign was a parachuting monkey. We take a look behind the scenes at how the CGI ad was created, and the impact the brand relaunch has had on the business.

The space monkey ad and the rest of the ads in the series were created by The Monkeys, which won the pitch for the budget insurer back in September.

The concept behind Bingle's relaunch was that it's easier than most people think to get a quote for car insurance. So easy, that a monkey can do it while flying through the air. And a magician’s assistant can do it while being sawn in half.

The relaunch was a bold step for the brand, which previously suffered perception issues and was more closely associated with Aussie celebrity Lara Bingle – than car insurance, according to Jasmine Hilderbrand, brand manager of Bingle Car Insurance .

In the first few weeks of the campaign launching, the “calculated risk” was already paying off, she said, and Bingle was already seeing the results with 100% increase in new business, and back to back record sales weeks. It has also seen a 17% uplift in unique visits to the website since the campaign launched and a rise in spontaneous brand awareness.

The chimp, who must complete a quote on the Bingle website before her parachute opens, completes the task, landing safely in the bright green Mini Bingle car on the ground before driving away.

Joni, the chimp, was created using CGI technology developed by New York based animation firm The Mill.

A year ago, Bingle had negative connotations in the market – thanks mostly to the negative perceptions that rub off from celebrity Lara Bingle. Even though the brand has been around since before Lara Bingle made it famous in the “Where the bloody hell are you” ads for Tourism Australia, but from its research no one would have known it.

It’s a challenger in the insurance space and sits alongside the likes of Budget Direct, and Coles Insurance. Budget Direct, is also on a mission to break free of previous connotations with a new brand positioning campaign starring a fictional daredevil character called Captain Risky.

“As it was Bingle didn’t stand for anything. We were known as cheap insurance and that’s about it, but now we can stand for something in the market," Hilderbrand said.

Until the launch, Bingle was contained within the Victorian and New South Wales market, but with the relaunch it went national. The campaign marked the first time Bingle has done branding – rather than just advertising and promotions.

“Brands that are most successful are those with brand love – with insurance being a commodity and Bingle definitely being a commodity – if there was no brand love, it's not the top of their consideration and we don't get the quotes. Branding is the only thing that differentiates one insurance company from another,” said Hilderbrand.

“We were always considered the baby [of the Suncorp group] but now within the portfolio – different brands need to be doing different things and appealing to different markets - we don't want cannibalisation to happen within our own group. AAMI is now considered a trusted brand, it's been in insurance for a long time and it's up against NRMA and RAC – so AAMI has matured [beyond a challenger and talking about price]– so Bingle is the obvious choice in the group to take on the challengers.”

The Monkeys CCO and co-founder Justin Drape, credits the client being “brave” with an idea that “set them apart” for the success. When it went into the pitch for Bingle, Drape admitted that the agency was regarding the opportunity of working with a budget insurance brand with a shrug - but following the first meetings, the team got hyped up.

Drape said: “Having a really clear objective and honest conversation from the brand was really refreshing. We left [the pitch] thinking it's a pretty good team that really want to do something different, and respect the transformative power of great creative ideas and we all got excited about that. When you see opportunities like that as a creative company you really invest everything into it because it's not that common.

“We got to the ideas in a really collaborative way so we could go straight into making it. It was nice to have that open dialogue and the client allowed us to do work that is elevated – the client trusted us to do things, and believe that we could bring a chimp to life with CGI. They trusted us and it was a big leap. It's not that common for clients to say 'we've appointed you and now we're going to let you do what you do'. [Sometimes] pitches are so drawn out that by the end of it everyone is fatigued – but it should be more positive.”

Bingle is one of Suncorp's key brands this year. It’s one of Suncorp’s smallest brands in the 15-strong insurance portfolio but it’s the focus of a disproportionate amount of attention this year. Not just in terms of marketing, but in terms of the organisation of the business which was overhauled last year.

Suncorp operates a group structure, but last year, shortly after the pitch process, Bingle was plucked from that structure as and now instead of feeding into the group is run under the stewardship of executive manager James Fitzpatrick.

Hilderbrand reports directly to him, where previously she reported to Richard Riboni, who was the group-level marketing head for the AAMI and Bingle brands. In September last year, Riboni was shifted to a group wide innovation role, where he is responsible for identifying and driving innovation across Suncorp.

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