Before there were Life Insurance Awareness Month, Disability Insurance Awareness Month and the 3 in 4 Need More campaign, New Orleans “social aid and pleasure” societies — fraternal insurers — used Mardi Gras parades as a chance to promote their organizations and bind members closer together.
The benevolent associations themselves would, in effect, carry out teaser campaigns throughout the year by hiring bands to play sad music on the way to a member’s burial and lively music as the mourners left the cemetery.
Long-term care insurance (LTCI) insurers and producers are not likely to hire bands to play on the way as policyholders’ move in and out of assisted living facilities, but the New Orleans Mardi Gras is an interesting insurance marketing case study.
1. Some campaigns can get to be a little too successful to serve as effective marketing vehicles for the original organizers.
Mardi Gras eventually grew to be so big that its ties to social aid societies receded into hazy memory. Ronald McDonald seems to have mostly transcended hamburgers.
LTCI campaign organizers who want the campaign to lead to awareness and sales might not want to end up with campaigns that go quite that viral.
2. People like music.
Trumpets, trombones and tubes helped the social aid societies get their message across.
Many baby boomers and members of Generation X can still sing old McDonald’s and Coca Cola theme sungs, and warble the “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” slogan.
I’m having a hard time thinking of any Blue Cross and Blue Shield theme songs, let alone songs from other life, health and LTCI carriers.
If the LTCI community can’t develop, or commission the development of, its own theme song, maybe it could talk to Fleetwood Mac about the rights to “Don’t Stop.”
|Mardi Gras (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)|
Bill Clinton linked the song to associations that might be painful for some, but it’s certainly true that yesterday is gone, and that tomorrow will soon be here. Those are thoughts that it would be good for LTCI prospects to be humming on the way to work.
Another option could be to listen carefully to New Orleans jazz. Maybe Louis Armstrong’s “As Time Goes By” would help get prospects, future prospects, in the kind of reflective mood that gets people to think about the possibility that someday they might well be older and more frail than they are today.
My own grandmother, Dorothy White Bell of Kansas City, Mo., and Omaha, Neb. (her sister and brother-in-law used to play bridge with Warren Buffett) regularly sang “Sunrise, Sunset” from “Fiddler on the Roof.”
“I don’t remember growing older; when did they?” is a lyric that might go well with the sale of a number of the products marketed by Berkshire Hathaway portfolio insurance companies.
3. What we learn first, we remember best.
People love Mardi Gras partly because it’s old. It was there when we were small children and seems as if it will be there until our children have small grandchildren.