AIG received the highest honor at the Gramercy Institute Strategy Awards, which recognize excellence in financial services marketing. A strong partnership between Commercial Insurance and Corporate Communications, AIG’s marketing strategy stood out by delivering influential audiences powerful insights into the opportunities and risks of technological change. Produced in collaboration with the New York Times, AIG’s Internet of Things-focused Sensing the Next Wave campaign stood out among all 45 winners to earn the title of Best of Show at the Gramercy Awards.

“It’s happening now. Like gravity, the Internet of Things is a force. Every business is now asking itself 'how are we responding',” said Rob Bauer, Managing Director of Strategy and Innovation, Commercial Insurance. To share key insights from AIG’s groundbreaking whitepaper, “The Internet of Things: Evolution or Revolution?” with data-savvy influencers, C-suite decision makers, and forward-thinking consumers, Bauer partnered with Corporate Communications to develop a marketing campaign that was the first of its kind. The New York Times’ T Brand Studio had never published a feature about the Internet of Things. “You would expect a CISCO or an IBM or a GE to do something like this,” said Bauer. “You wouldn’t expect an insurance company. That was an important part of our strategy—doing something different and showing up for our customers in a different, more innovative way.”

When Bauer came to Corporate Communications with the first whitepaper in a series which analyzes how IoT is transforming industries from banking to manufacturing, and from health care to aerospace, while tracking the relationship between IoT and new privacy, cybersecurity, and liability risks, the Global Advertising team of Mark Clowes and Julia Pawling knew they could help bring the document to life to reach even wider audiences online. With the assistance of advertising agency Partners and Simons, the Global Advertising Team began working with the New York Times’ T Brand Studio to create a sponsored post that would be accessible, digestible, and interactive, speaking to the way in which IoT can help people work smarter and safer.

The first step, initiated by AIG’s Chief Marketing Officer David May, was to test popular sentiment and perspectives on IoT by working with AIG Connections, a group of more than 1,000 consumers across the United States who provide AIG with real-time feedback through our mobile market research platform. Insights from AIG Connections helped Global Advertising develop the vision for “Sensing the Next Wave”: the post would be optimistic, down-to-earth, and animated to appear livable. Data showed that consumers were highly interested in IoT—interested enough to read a full article, provided that the content could speak in terms that resonated with them. “Some people can find a change of pace unsettling. We wanted to frame this in a positive way—to show how technology can help people’s lives,” said Mark Clowes, AIG’s Global Advertising Lead.

Global Advertising worked with the New York Times’ T Brand Studio to create a colorful, animated article where readers can sense the future by exploring how IoT can change their everyday lives. From smart cities that communicate with energy grids to self-driving trucks that help avoid accidents, and from sensors that help make factories safer to buildings that can interact with their residents, the article and its unique visual imagery highlight the excitement that IoT brings as a force of change, while inviting readers to consider the new risks and uncertainties that these changes can bring. In one interactive animation, readers can test out sensors along an assembly line to see how they can speed up production and help protect workers from harm. Bringing the risks of IoT to life, the article asks readers to think about a possible malfunction: Who is responsible if an automated system causes a company to produce a defective product? To maintain employees’ privacy, should the company inform them which data its sensors are collecting?

Timed to launch in conjunction with the January 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, where AIG brought several clients from a wide variety of industries to a conference within a conference to share the real-life experience of IoT, “Sensing the Next Wave” represented a strategic success for AIG’s brand. “Sensing the Next Wave” earned nearly 100,000 views on the New York Times’ sponsored content website, crushing site benchmarks for entertainment, retail, and travel and beating the financial category by a staggering 39%. “Sensing the Next Wave” also proved remarkably successful in generating online discussions and debates around the Internet of Things, its opportunities, and its risks: the article ignited over 73,000 social actions and referrals, with more than 260 comments on Facebook alone. As Bauer remarked, “Good partnerships create good results.”

As the New York Times and the AIG Digital Strategy Team drove traffic to the article through social media campaigns, the Global Advertising Team delivered on a 3-part strategy that further amplified the article’s reach. By conducting outreach to bloggers, organizing an internal promotion campaign within AIG, and creating an extension campaign to promote “Sensing the Next Wave” around the RIMS conference for risk managers, Global Advertising enhanced the success of the main campaign, with striking results.

At the Gramercy Awards, held on March 30th 2017 at the Reuters Building in Times Square, a panel of 19 judges, comprised of senior marketing executives from leading financial services companies, honored AIG’s Sensing the Next Wave campaign with Best Strategy awards in the Property and Casualty Insurance sub-category and in the Domestic & Single Country category, and went on to win the top honor as  Best of Show. “We were extremely happy,” said Julia Pawling of AIG’s Global Advertising Team. “We all have similar goals. To be recognized by peers is always a great thing. It helps promote AIG.”  

Global Advertising took home an additional award for an innovative ad campaign created in partnership with Zumobi, a leader in content marketing technology. The Zumobi microzine delivered AIG thought leadership on innovation in business and technology to data-savvy insurance influencers and C-suite executives on their mobile devices, earned the Gramercy Award for Best Strategy: Mobile and Tablet. Using IBM Watson machine learning and natural language processing, Zumobi’s microzine analyzed each viewer’s interests and delivered the most relevant articles and videos from AIG directly to his or her mobile device. The microzine also used machine learning to optimize its own placement on sites across the web in order to reach members of the target audience.

Clowes explained that “presenting great content in an elegant, user-friendly way” represents a strong way for AIG to reach its target audiences now. “We’re in a mobile-first world,” said Clowes. “This ad unit was a natural fit for what we were trying to do. We wanted to put a lot of different content in front of people in an engaging way, versus hoping that they would click on a small banner ad at the bottom of another site.” Pawling agreed that creating the microzine was a rewarding effort: “It was a really interesting test for us,” she said, “and it ended up exceeding our expectations.”

“Sensing the Next Wave” and Zumobi Microzine were awarded further accolades in Branded Content and Mobile from the Financial Communication Society’s Portfolio Awards. “Sensing the Next Wave” was honored with a Media Maven award for Native Content.




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