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The creation of Direct Line’s Winston Wolf campaign in 2014 apparently came down to two moments.

And when I heard about them, I had two thoughts - “that’s good” and “why didn’t I think of that?”

The moments were described in an interview between Mark Evans of Direct Line and Richard Huntington of Saatchi & Saatchi.

The first was in the pitch, when Richard told a story about having his phone and bags stolen in Vietnam. The client he was with responded sympathetically. But an account director from another agency, who didn’t offer any sympathy, gave Richard his laptop and phone so he could get onto his iCloud and call his wife.

And what he realised in that moment was, when things go wrong, you don’t want a shoulder to cry on, you want someone to sort it out.

The second was after winning the account, when Richard was walking out of a strategy meeting towards Bromley South station. He turned to Paul Silburn, who he was with, and said: “This is about proper insurance, about fixing things, about making things right.”

And Paul replied: “You know, it’s a little bit like Winston Wolf in Pulp Fiction when they’ve blown the brains out of that guy in the Chevy Nova.”

There it is. Great insight, great idea.

But really annoying.

Because two years before then I’d worked with Direct Line, just around the time Mark joined the company. We ran some needs research and came to two conclusions. Insurance is about getting and having protection sorted. And Direct Line will keep you moving forward.

I even remember James Ashford, then of Direct Line, calling me after a meeting to say: “I’m on the platform at Victoria Station with all these people trying to get home. They don’t want to waste their time sorting out their insurance, they want to keep moving forward with their lives.”

There must be something about that train from Bromley South to Victoria.

Of course, the mistake we made was putting too much emphasis on the getting insurance sorted bit, the renewal process. We were distracted by those noisy comparison sites. But we were close.

And the road to success is rarely straight.

Next time.


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