Three Peaks - Deriding the Spoils
Three Peaks - Deriding the Spoils

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Three Peaks - Deriding the Spoils


'Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.' Mark Twain

There is, apparently, a Chinese curse that goes, 'may you live in interesting times' except I imagine it's in Chinese. We may have been cursed recently with our own 'interesting' times with recent events assisted by the media.

Two phrases seem to have become relatively contagious; the first, 'I put it to you' and the second 'incite violence'. It appears the quickest way to get something off air is to claim that it will incite violence, I've not heard of complaints being raised regarding inciting stupidity but then I suppose there would be little left to bookend the adverts.

It is, of course, election time and it's understandable that this should dominate the air waves. The question though is how much difference does advertising make? Are we as a nation evolved enough in the process to actually be swayed by posters and television? I imagine if you asked most people towards the end of last year who they were voting for and asked them again now, nothing would have changed. If it was polite to ask that is. There also seems little value in having a regional ballot as I can't imagine these would differ from the national. In spite of this however the country side is coloured in with bright billboards set to fade over the next few months, maybe even the next year. Radio stations spend as much time re-assuring us that the opinions are those of the parties and not those of the station concerned, as the parties spend pretending to care. Would any of it make a difference to the outcome? I doubt it.

The same cannot be said about the adverts of direct insurers, these certainly do work. For these insurers, who have 'eliminated the middle person' (to put it neutrally) this is the only way they can make themselves known. In fact the point is that media is their middle man and they probably spend as much on advertising as broker driven insurers pay their brokers. How far can they go though before 'inciting violence'? A recent television ad shows a camera crew going to the home of a loyal client. They walk past two relatively high valued vehicles parked in the driveway and into a fairly large double storied house. The advert then goes onto say how the people at this address only pay (about) R600.00 for their insurance. The problem is that we don't know what they have insured. The illusion and the allusion is that all you see is covered but that's not possible as each vehicle might cost that to insure, a month, alone.

I don't for one minute believe that this advert should be taken off the air. I'd like to believe that the viewing public is able to make decisions for themselves (I really would like to believe that). Even if that is not the case they don't have to wait five years to remedy the situation, they can do so immediately without penalty. I think some of the direct insurers' adverts are clever and quite entertaining and as such should remain, irrespective of whether they use some 'sleight of hand'. I mean you don't really believe you've won a million pounds in some cellphone lottery you didn't enter, do you? In fact the process may be one that assists, that enables people to question more and begin to doubt their realities.  If nothing else there is the entertainment value, the insurance equivalent of the political song and dance.

The issue I suppose is that the market is the electorate, they can't be separated, and in all aspects that body is evolving, if only gradually. It can still, to a certain extent, be manipulated with promises; whether empty or wholesome, remains to be seen. It will evolve though, as poverty is eroded and the economy strengthens and humans become humane. Decisions will begin to be made more on issue than popularity, or reinforced more on product and less on price. Perhaps in believing that, I've firmly rooted myself in that evolving body.  Yes, it does sound like it's all been said before but that's the point isn't it, advertising is all about repetition. One big difference between insurance and politics is that when it comes to making your mark for one or other insurance product, be it direct or through a broker, it is never advisable to spoil.

Three Peaks - Deriding the Spoils

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