Canada Life recalls the historical benefit of expertise

The insurer begins to tell the story of its new singular brand after combining divisions last year.


Canada Life is highlighting the importance of experts in a campaign talking about its newly amalgamated brand, incorporating a message of empathy it plans to build upon further in the fall.

Canada Life – which came together with its Great-West Life and London Life divisions to create a new, single brand in 2019 – has released a campaign that intersperses grainy, sepia footage of past events that relied on solid expertise (like the space shuttle launch and operation of the Canadarm) with modern clips of how it matters now, linking it to things like health advice during the pandemic. It also shows how expert advice from an insurance company fits into this mindset, referencing the guidance it offers through over 23,000 advisors to “make sure Canadians are getting the best advice possible.”

Andrew Morris, VP of brand and experience for Canada Life, says touting its experts is a part of Canada Life’s DNA, but doesn’t give it the full picture of who the brand is. It had planned a more robust story about what it stands for but, as a result of COVID production constraints, it held off, and chose to instead begin talking about its newly combined brand through the importance of active advising, even when times are difficult.

“You will see a lot more around the importance of empathy, listening, being part of the community, core to the brand, in September and through the balance of the year,” Morris says, foreshadowed a bit through the tagline: “a little guidance today can do a world of good tomorrow.” The 60-second spot also name-checks two not-for-profits the brand has worked with: Imagine Canada, which provides charities and non-profits with expert advice designed to help them better support communities, and suicide prevention charity Crisis Services Canada.

According to Morris, it has not spoken to Canadians at large about the Canada Life brand since combining, and now it wanted to give consumers a sample of the charitable initiatives it’s involved with and the kind of functional advice it provides as it prepares to build brand equity with Canadians through the rest of the year. The interspersing of old and new video footage, Morris says, gives the piece more visual interest, as historical images have resonated with its target in the past.

While the brand serves about a third of Canadians, Morris says the challenge is to make sure it meets rapidly changing needs, especially toward a more gig-oriented economy and helping small businesses (also shown in the creative). Canada Life is also a campaign partner of the Canadian Business Resilience Network, which offers advice for small businesses about how to re-open and was launched in April.

Morris tells strategy that, of its former brands, Great West Life had the strongest equity, but that was built up through day-to-day interactions, rather than advertising. London Life’s Freedom 55 had a positioning more focused around retirement planning, and Canada Life was a “manufacturers’ brand,” known to advisors for its insurance products, but not talking about itself in the mass marketplace.

The campaign is wholly digital and social-focused, running on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and trade publications because of time constraints with TV and the impact of COVID. A landing page includes more information on how Canada Life is taking action to boost support for its experts in Canada.

There’s also a secondary “thank you” aimed at the brand’s advisors, through trade publications like Globe Advisor, part of what Morris calls an “inside-out approach,” engaging both employees and consumers.

Taxi led creative efforts. Production was led by Saints Editorial, music by Berkeley and post-production by Alter Ego. Media buying was by Mindshare.