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Can Michael J. Fox Help This New Insurance Company Thrive With a Focus on Optimism?


Do you view insurance companies as soulless corporate monoliths powered by greed and shamefully disconnected from the customers they serve?

Yeah, that's what a lot of us believe. And Sonnet, an online insurer launching today in Canada, aims to dispel such notions by flogging optimism in ads created by Johannes Leonardo.

Speaking of launches, the spot below presents a mission control/blast-off scenario, with shots of earnest flight controllers and a rather unusual rocket rocket rising from the pad, punctuated by a Michael J. Fox voiceover that begins, "It took us to the stars. Overcame countless obstacles. It wasn't a single bright mind. Or money. Or politics. No. It was something much more powerful."

Clearly, M.J.'s building to something here. Is it … optimism? Get to the point, McFly! The ad's kind of hokey, but earns a big thumbs up for its memorably trippy imagery:

Looks like you're in good hand with Sonnet.

"We wanted to match the audaciousness of what's been going on behind the scenes [at Sonnet] and clearly state our ambition to change insurance for the better," agency creative chief Leo Premutico tells Adweek. "The thumbs-up, the most simple visual expression for optimism there is, felt like the perfect vehicle to do so. We had to be arresting and make sure Canadians understand Sonnet is not your typical insurance company."

He describes Fox as "a living demonstration of the power of positivity," and indeed, the actor's perseverance in the face of Parkinson's disease has been inspiring. His involvement lends the campaign considerable class and credibility.

"He's a truly inspiring individual, and just spending time with him in the recording booth is an experience that stays with you," Premutico says. "His talent, humor and presence shine through as strongly as ever, and his unique voice leaves an indelible mark on the advertising."

Fox's tone—confident and convivial, like a friend chatting into your ear—elevates the next spot, which takes a sunny approach to life's journey, telling its tale from a newborn's point of view:

"We wanted to remind our audience of how precious that positive frame of mind we are all born with really is," Premutico says, "and inspire them to protect it while they're insuring their things."

Sonnet lays on the optimism kinda thick, but John Rocco, the company's vp of marketing, believes that strategy should appeal to millennial consumers. "In a category overpowered by pessimism, it's easy for this audience to feel cynical," he says. "The heart of this campaign is not simply to introduce a new insurance company, but to do it in a way that breaks through that cynicism about what's possible, and show that insurance can be fast, fair and clear."

As for the tagline, "What's the best that can happen?"—a low-stress insurance experience, and timely payouts without hassles, would be just fine.

If Sonnet doesn't deliver, well, folks can always launch a different finger in protest.

Client: Sonnet
Agency: Johannes Leonardo
Directors/Production Cos.:
Gary Freedman, Biscuit ("What's the Best that can Happen?")
Malcom Venville, Anonymous ("Journey") 

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