Special Report: Marketing to the Chinese Community: Crown Life builds image with Chinese

In This Report-Crown Life Insurance emphasizes stability anddependability, in an image-building campaign 19-Use of Chinese media is on the rise, says DJC Research 21-Tele-Direct and Ming Paojoin forces to publish a Chinese Yellow Pages 22-English-language Asian magazine Typhoon goes to press...

In This Report

-Crown Life Insurance

emphasizes stability and

dependability, in an image-

building campaign 19

-Use of Chinese media is on

the rise, says DJC Research 21

-Tele-Direct and Ming Pao

join forces to publish a

Chinese Yellow Pages 22

-English-language Asian

magazine Typhoon goes to

press for the first time 23

-Volkswagen Canada increases

sales and awareness with an

integrated approach 24

Stability and dependability – two factors Chinese consumers say are crucial to their choice of a life insurer – are the focus of a recent Chinese-language image-building campaign for Crown Life Insurance.

The Regina-based insurance company commissioned two 15-second television commercials, plus related print advertising, to reinforce the image of the insurer in the wake of the much-publicized collapse in 1993 of Toronto-based competitor Confederation Life.

John Leung, president of Prime Advertising, the Toronto-based agency responsible for Crown Life’s advertising to the Chinese community, says the ideas for the creative came out of consumer research that suggested Chinese-Canadian consumers would choose an insurer on the basis of its financial stability and dependability.

Each commercial attempts to reinforce one of these points.

In the first spot, which Leung says is meant to symbolize the stability of Crown Life, a rope is shown being wrapped around a bollard – a post around which a ship’s mooring line is fastened – imprinted with Crown Life’s logo – CrownLife.

The voiceover, roughly translated from Chinese, says: ‘Crown Life, established in 1900, has financial strengths; provides you with full assurance of reliability.’

The second commercial, which Leung says illustrates dependability, shows a father and his young son taking an early-morning run through a city park.

When the son suddenly tires at the base of a flight of stairs, the father reaches down to take his hand, and the two of them are shown reaching the top, the boy on the man’s shoulders, with the Toronto skyline behind them.

The voiceover for the second spot says: ‘Since 1900, millions of clients worldwide feel the same as you do. They feel peace of mind because Crown Life has provided them with the protection they need.’

Both spots close with the tagline: ‘Crown Life. Your Dependable Choice.’

The media buy consisted of three-month flights last year on Chinese-language service Fairchild TV in the Vancouver and Calgary markets and on multicultural television station cfmt in Toronto.

Leung says his agency has recently completed production on two additional spots that will go to air later this spring.

David McFarlane, vice-president of marketing, individual insurance operations at Crown Life, says the image-building campaign is part of a larger, ongoing effort to establish closer ties to the Chinese community.

McFarlane says event marketing is a big part of the mix, for example, with Crown Life having been, for a number of years, sponsor and official insurer of the Toronto International Dragon Boat Festival.

Two years ago, the insurance company happened to sponsor the winning boat, something McFarlane characterizes as a bit of good fortune.

‘The mileage you get from that sort of thing is terrific because you get 300,000 Chinese attending,’ he says, adding it is somewhat easier to reach your target group when it is as close-knit as the Chinese.

‘That’s the type of thing you get with the Chinese market that you don’t get with other markets. There is a sense of family, of belonging. There is a real sense of community.’

McFarlane says Crown Life first identified Chinese consumers as a target market back in 1987, when it realized the mainstream life insurance market was virtually saturated.

‘The insurance marketplace in Canada is very competitive, so what happens is that you get intense price and compensation competition – with the result that you don’t end up building a profitable business,’ he says.

‘So we went back and identified some markets where we could build a sustainable position. And we identified the Chinese market as one that was not as price-sensitive.

‘It relied more on relationships, one where the price was important, but it was just part of the overall package – the reputation of the company, the strength of the company is also part of the equation.’

The company decided in 1987 to establish a dedicated salesforce and now has about 60 Chinese agents, says McFarlane, adding Chinese consumers prefer to buy from people who understand their culture and the way they do business.

‘It’s going back to the relationship,’ he says.

‘The Chinese consumer will buy on trust, will buy on relationships, will buy from Chinese. It’s very important that the agent understand their needs, their culture.’

The target group for Crown Life’s marketing efforts are Chinese consumers in Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary – the three Canadian cities with the largest population of Chinese residents.

McFarlane says many immigrants from Hong Kong are in the market for new Canadian policies, since, practically speaking, it tends to be more difficult to maintain an overseas business relationship.

As well, Leung says many Chinese immigrants take a newfound interest in life insurance because they tend to feel less secure in a foreign country and may no longer have the support of an extended family.

Although he offers no hard numbers to back up his assertion, Leung speaks from experience.

Not only has he worked on the Crown Life account since 1987, he cut his teeth on the Sun Life Assurance account in Hong Kong.

And he too is an immigrant.