Onlia continues its shift from performance to brand media

Who: Onlia, with Blackjet for strategy and creative; True Media for media.

What: A new wave of advertising in the “I Went Online with Onlia” brand platform, designed to help the upstart brand stand out in a $71 billion insurance industry dominated by heavyweight heritage brands.

When & Where: The campaign launched across digital on April 17, with a wave of out-of-home advertising set to follow early next month. The new assets are designed to complement existing TV and radio advertising.

Why: It’s a continuation of last year’s campaign, which marked a pronounced shift in strategy for the online insurance brand that saw it move away from the performance marketing channels that had been its hallmark, and adopt a more brand-led approach emphasizing awareness and education.

That approach produced a 9% increase in brand awareness and a marked impact on sales within its first six months, said Julia Stein, Onlia’s director of marketing and communications. While online brands typically place a heavy emphasis on performance marketing, Stein said that sales growth tends to move in lockstep with increased brand recognition.

She said that while marketers across the ecommerce landscape took notice of last year’s article in The Wall Street Journal detailing Airbnb’s success after shifting its marketing mix from performance channels to a more brand-driven approach, Onlia already had the evidence that the tactic could be highly effective.

“As an ecommerce company you’re motivated by attribution and sales… but seeing what happened last year when we went hard to launch the new campaign, we could see that efficiencies and sales improve when you invest in brand,” she said. “That’s really what started the conversation around the shift in media strategy.”

How: The campaign’s new digital component consists of three 15-second ads, “Boiling Water,” “Car Wash,” and “Nails,” showing consumers engaged in everyday activities like cooking, washing the car or painting their nails, when they receive a prompt on their phone to purchase insurance—a task that’s quickly and easily accomplished with Onlia at the push of a button.

All of the ads use Onlia’s distinctive brand assets, including a pink cloud/speech bubble and its signature pink and blue colour scheme. They also feature a new mnemonic device, with a woman’s voice exclaiming (shrieking?) “I went online with Onlia” in all of the spots.

That exclamation was actually made by a woman in last year’s TV spot and contributed to the spot’s high recall, said Blackjet CEO Rob Galletta. “Anecdotally, everyone involved in the production loved the read of that voiceover,” he said. “[It had] a lot of energy, so it felt like a great opportunity to create a little connective tissue with the core TV spot.”

And we quote: “Sending the message that it’s easy to buy and manage Onlia Insurance online helps us break through to consumers and overcome hurdles we face as a disruptor in the category. By further building awareness and education, we can find efficiencies in how we use performance marketing.” — Julia Stein, director of marketing and communications, Onlia

Chris Powell