A deep dive into how the insurance and healthcare company worked with the British comedian and Fallon London, part of Leo Burnett London, to encourage healthy lifestyles in a fun way
Below is a behind the scenes perspective on AXA Health’s Feelgood Health mission – a campaign to empower people to be the best version of themselves on their own terms.
This campaign is paving the way for the future direction of the business through ‘Feelgood Health’ which represents a shift in thinking when it comes to physical and mental wellbeing, at a time where it has never been a more important time to be healthy, in both body and mind. Last year, AXA Health launched a new positioning, and celebrated the brand’s reinvigorated approach to health which transports us from competitive, hard work and unrealistic goals to joyful, activities we can undertake on our own terms, paved the way for the future direction of the business through ‘Feelgood Health’.
Comedian, presenter and writer Jack Whitehall – the brand’s Feelgood Health collaborator – joined forces with Dr Annabel Bentley, AXA Health’s chief medical officer, to feature in an online content series, created by Fallon London, that challenged Jack to find his Feelgood Health. This month, AXA Health is launching the second phase of the campaign, again joining forces with Fallon and Jack Whitehall to shine a light on the ethos of Feelgood Health and what it means to the way we perceive getting healthy.
Alongside the campaign, there is the partnership activation with Spotify, which uses specific playlist generators sitting on an AXA Hub within Spotify to help provide soundtracks to activities and turn them into Feelgood Health moments. AXA will also be giving away Spotify premium codes in celebration of the partnership and the campaign.
This whole campaign reflects the AXA Health belief system that getting healthy is a bit of a balancing act, and it is important that if we enjoy it and it feels like less of a burden, we’ll all do it more and most importantly keep doing it.
AXA Health’s marketing and proposition director, Andy McClure and Fallon ECD, Mark Elwood, discuss what was behind this extensive campaign.
Q> How did the decision to reposition to AXA PPP healthcare to AXA Health come about? What was the initial challenge / opportunity you wanted to address?
Andy> Our journey to becoming AXA Health has been about so much more than a new articulation of our name. In a changing world, our customers’ needs are changing, too. We want to open up access to fresh insights, drive innovation and speed the introduction of supportive health and wellbeing propositions for a changing world. Our ambition for AXA Health is to empower people to be the best version of themselves. To do that, we have been re-shaping how we work, ensuring we are finding simpler ways to support our customers in their health and wellbeing journeys.
Q> What sort of research did the team have to do ahead of this / ahead of launching the Feelgood Health campaign?
Andy> We started with a combination of quantitative, qualitative and ethnographic research, giving us a deep understanding of who our audiences are, their lifestyles and their attitudes towards health and wellbeing. We found good intentions, but some clear barriers.
We then used behavioural change theory to determine the barrier that stops people from prioritising their wellbeing and what we could do to address it – ‘The Theory of Planned Behavior’, Fishbein & Ajzen; ‘Micro Habits’, James Clear; ‘The Control Heuristic’, Luca Dellanna.
What became clear from our research was that we needed to give them fun and rewarding ways of doing so. So that they would approach getting well with a smile rather than seeing it as a chore.
This idea was then tested against cultural and competitive research to understand how widespread this approach was in market and with our audiences. The overriding narrative of the market was one that encouraged unrealistic goals – e.g. braving the freezing water and electric fences of hardcore obstacle courses – which were off-putting to our audience who readily embraced a more joyful approach where enjoyment leads and results follow.
So our hypothesis was confirmed and the strategy defined – give people fun ways to get fit mentally and physically. ‘Find your Feelgood Health’ was born from there.
Q> How did you get to the idea for the initial campaign?
Mark> We knew from the research that this platform needed to tap into the fun ways people wanted to stay healthy.
If we were creating challenges, they couldn’t be onerous or else folk would turn off quickly. For many, the only way to keep fit can feel like a gruelling routine at the gym. This campaign is about giving people the choice to exercise differently, and this is why we made the films feel joyful, to convey the message the keeping healthy shouldn’t feel like a chore.
Working alongside our Publicis Groupe partner agency MSL from the start, we created a series of activations that were fun: kitchen discos, forest bathing, breathing exercises during the ad-breaks, borrowing a dog, etc.
This was how we wanted the campaign to feel, that’s how the platform ‘Feelgood Health’ was born. To give the platform additional gravitas and credibility, we wanted to find a suitable spokesperson, that’s where Jack Whitehall came into play. He’s got the right blend of humanity, comedy and isn’t a gym bunny! Perfect.
Q> Jack Whitehall isn’t the first person to spring to mind when you think of a health and wellness ambassador but he works really well for this spot – what led to you choosing him as a collaborator?
Andy> Like a lot of us, Jack isn’t a self-professed fitness fanatic. He doesn’t do lycra and he told us he doesn’t like the idea of being shouted at by a personal trainer at 5am. Like many of us, he just wants getting healthier to be a bit more joyful. He has strong appeal amongst our audiences and an ability to bring to life our campaign messaging in a tongue-and-cheek way, so he seemed like the perfect fit. He shares our belief that when it comes to getting healthier, if we enjoy it more, we’ll do it more!
Q> It’s been a difficult year for many and one where staying healthy has taken centre stage, with lots of people starting to take better care of themselves. Did this influence the direction you took with this campaign?
Andy> We’ve seen a greater awareness about the importance of taking care of ourselves, particularly with the mental health toll that the pandemic is having. But we also know that for many people it’s been difficult to maintain the behaviours and routines that help them – going to the gym, group classes, not to mention finding the energy and motivation when there are so many other new challenges. We wanted to inspire people and celebrate the enjoyable activities that can be done easily at home and outside, and on your own terms, so it doesn’t feel like hard work at all – just doing something you love that happens to be good for you.
Q> The whole campaign is driven by the message of ‘finding feelgood health’ through simple everyday activities. Why did you think this was an important message to land?
Andy> We want to empower everyone to be the healthiest version of themselves, whatever that means to them. Our strategy process revealed a clear space for a less goal driven narrative around health and wellbeing. One which acknowledges the lifestyles and challenges of our audiences’ lives and supports them to become healthier in a way that can stick. Good health doesn’t always have to be about gruelling regimes and extreme goals. It can be different, lighter, fun, and found in activities where you’re getting healthier before you even realise it. It’s an approach rooted in behavioural science but there’s chemistry at play too. Our clinical experts were fundamental in guiding our messaging and providing the scientific evidence for why Feelgood Health works, and how it can help us to realise the ambition of AXA Health.
Q> The Spotify partnership is a great idea – how has that been received? Do you have any other partnerships lined up?
Andy> From our audience research we validated a clear link between listening to music and exercise, and the impact that the right track can have not only on mood directly but also to add to the enjoyment of wellbeing activities. Spotify is the perfect platform because it’s able to tune in to users’ specific musical preferences and serve them personalised playlists designed to fit whatever activity they’re doing. So, we’ve launched six ‘Feelgood Health’ playlist categories – from ‘Kitchen disco’ to ‘A moment’s pause’. We’ve also worked with TV broadcaster, Alex Jones, to help inspire people with their Feelgood Health. She’s recorded tailored words of encouragement for those listening to the Feelgood Health playlists, as well as supporting the campaign in her social channels. She’s a big fan of a kitchen disco!
Q> What has the response been to the campaign so far?
Andy> We’ve had a really positive response so far. Everything we heard in our audience research is being reflected in the feedback we are getting to the campaign. People are ready for looking after themselves to be more joyful, and this positivity is being reflected in our metrics already with engagement rates far exceeding benchmarks and the targets we set.
Q> What else do you have in the pipeline for the future? Will the AXA Health brand continue to evolve?
Andy> Feelgood Health seems to be resonating with our audiences and we have plans to build on it over the coming months. A strong brand is a critical success factor and we will continue to grow and strengthen it as part of our overall ambition for AXA Health.
Q> Were there any creative challenges that you encountered during the shoot / creation of this campaign?
Mark> We chose animation for some of the films, due to the restrictions around Covid. We knew that shooting in gyms and with a larger cast was not the right thing to do. This was a practical solution, but it also gave us the opportunity to explore the use of animation for AXA in a TV ad – something which had never been done before – and the whole team are delighted with the outcome. It fits perfectly with the ‘fun’ approach as well as creating category distinctiveness.
Containing the shoot to one location with a minimal cast, and in the initial launch films with Jack on his own (supported by a blender), was responsible but, crucially, didn’t hamper us creatively in what we wanted to achieve. Passion have been an amazing partner in this.