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The Life Insurance That’s to Kill For (Or Not)


The FRED & FARID Los Angeles team discuss their comedy of life-saving errors for Ladder life insurance with LBB’s Ben Conway

The Life Insurance That’s to Kill For (Or Not)

The flexible insurance company Ladder teamed up with Los Angeles agency FRED & FARID to produce a humorous debut campaign, built from the insight that ‘one in two couples with life insurance joke about taking each other out for the pay-out’.

The launch spot for the ‘So Good’ campaign involves a dad walking through a thoroughly booby-trapped house, as his family attempts to take him out for an insurance pay-out. The slapstick comedy provided by the McCallister-esque traps and the dad’s naivety make for a chuckle-worthy and memorable spot from Kapsized director Casey Storm. “The concept made me laugh out loud. I felt like it was comical, bold, and distinctly unique in advertising,” said Casey in the FRED & FARID press release for the campaign.

The spot ends on a disclaimer that disproves the myth and Hollywood trope that killing a life insurance holder will result in a pay-out. To discuss the thought process behind developing the spot and working with Kapsized and Exile to bring some much-needed humour to life insurance and the world, LBB’s Ben Conway spoke with the FRED & FARID Los Angeles team. 

The initial brief and creative spark from Ladder was to create an advert that stands out from the crowd of historically very serious insurance adverts. FRED & FARID came up with the ‘creative strategy and line’ for a comedic spin on the formula internally and worked alongside Ladder, who provided ‘additional consumer research’ to support the idea.

Although it wasn’t the starting point for the creative process, a key part of the spot - which provides a final comedic moment that rounds off the concept - is the legal disclaimer at the conclusion of the spot. The disclaimer dispels the myth that intentionally killing a partner entitles you to a life insurance pay-out - a rather worn out trope of film and TV by now. The FRED & FARID Los Angeles team say that it’s unusual for a disclaimer to become an organic (entertaining, even) part of a spot. “This was one of the few times where the legal constraints and mandatories ended up adding more humour to the film.”

As the spot is part of Ladder’s debut campaign, FRED & FARID wanted to make sure that the insurance company’s first spot was something creative and original that they could hang their hat on and make their presence known. “This was a very bold first campaign for a brand to launch with and luckily we had very bold clients! This campaign was designed to be an enduring creative platform for Ladder. We wanted to really establish the first beloved consumer brand in life insurance.” 

To gain the public’s attention and become a ‘beloved’ brand, the FRED & FARID Los Angeles team knew that they had to ensure that the humour was communicated and executed well. “Humour in 30 seconds is hard to get right,” they say. So, known for excelling with funny material in his advertising projects, Casey Storm was the perfect choice for director. “He nails this in his commercial work - very talented, innovative and fresh - he understood the brand.”

The comedic route was a decision taken in light of the creative team recognising a need for some levity in the industry. The team believes that in 2021, the importance and desire for comedy has increased after a tough 18 months. “At a time where most brands have retreated to sentimentalism and careful middle grounds, we wanted to offer a much-needed laugh and in doing so, a way to stand out from the crowd.” In discussing the team’s favourite visual gags from the spot, they reveal that there may be a sequel in the works that uses some laughs that didn’t make the cut. Their favourite moments from the campaign are the adorable dog ‘Snowball’ and the knife-in-the-wedding portrait gag - which is bound to amuse any married couples watching the spot. “Because the campaign is coming from a true insight (that most couples engage in playful banter around life insurance pay-outs) we were able to tap into something that’s humorous in a very relatable way.”

From the very start of the creative process, FRED & FARID Los Angeles worked side by side with all other companies involved in the production of the spot. “Once we awarded the job to Casey Storm and Kapsized, we streamlined the script, worked closely with Casey and production on casting and selecting the location. We joined in person with the clients on the shoot,” they say. “We then moved into the post production and worked closely with Matt Murphy at Exile with Casey who remained closely involved through music and finishing until final delivery. It was a great team!”

The trickiest component of the campaign for the creative team was balancing the humour against the serious topic of life insurance. Making the dad ‘lovable’ to the audience was a vital part of subverting the audience’s expectations and creating the hilarious moments. “The actor, Brad Culver, nailed the performance. This dad is all-in, despite anything his family puts him through…” says the FRED & FARID Los Angeles team. “That makes it funnier that his whole family is trying to murder him.” 

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FRED & FARID, Wed, 20 Oct 2021 15:55:00 GMT