Manulife sings away holiday stress

The financial services provider promotes a more modest approach to spending with carols filled with tips.

Manulife continues to forge ahead with its promise to provide utility in the life of its customers, this time with a holiday campaign offering tips on how they can alleviate some of the stress that comes with the season.

The new campaign includes eight social spots, each inspired by a classic Christmas song and anchored around tips stemming from insights of the company’s fall debt survey. The study revealed that of the two-thirds of Canadians who are holiday spenders, six of every ten do not set a spending budget, and 50% of those who do feel they overspend. Moreover, eight of every ten respondents said they felt the holidays have become too spending-focused.

The findings revealed a surprising amount of debt-related stress and pressure around needing to spend during the holidays, says Leisha Roche, VP of brand and Canadian division marketing at Manulife. From those insights, the financial service provider saw an opportunity to get consumers thinking differently about the holidays and to encourage them to purchase less-expensive, thoughtful gifts or spend more time (than money) on family and friends.

With the help of its internal creative agency Oliver, which it on-boarded in June 2017, Manulife created humorous social spots featuring “Merry Carollers,” each containing a fact from the survey and corresponding tip. For example, one explains that one in four people say the season’s financial stress negatively impacts their mental health, before showcasing – to the tune of “Joy to the World” – how one might go about alleviating that stress. The tip: “Give yourself the gift of me time.”

In addition to the videos, Manulife is conducting pop-up activations on the streets of Toronto and in the Eaton Centre and Sherway Gardens shopping malls. Teams will be giving away tip-themed holiday song books and other materials aimed at getting people to reconsider the value of overspending. The idea is to capture people’s attention and “break up the monotony” of shopping, Roche says, while catching them at a time when they might be feeling anxious about the expense of those last few Christmas gifts.

“The whole idea is around this concept of spending time and less money, and tips and suggestions on how you might do that in a fun, lighthearted way.”

The company is also working on a potential partnership with an as-yet-unnamed major TV network that would feature carollers, expert advice and prize giveaways on a morning TV show. As part of the partnership, the campaign would be pushed on the network’s social channels as well, Roche says.

“A bank coming out and telling you not to spend more money, to spend more time – that’s probably a little unexpected,” Roche says. “That’s part of providing a fresh approach in what we see as being a sea of sameness, and starting to think about people’s best interest.”

The holiday push follows a similar approach as other marketing Manulife has done this year, aimed at positioning itself as a helpful resource for consumers. For example, in February, the company ran “Are You Covered,” a game-show inspired campaign whose goal was to make insurance feel like less of a burden.