Leading the ESG Revolution | An Australian Insurance Company

  • Challenge

    Environmental and social activism is a reputation imperative. Australians believe that outside government entities, Australian corporates are responsible for tackling climate change. Climate change action is second most top of mind for the public, and increased 8% as a top concern in Australia since Q3 2019. In this Rep-Case, we examine how an Australian Insurance company intertwines a compassionate narrative and innovative campaigns into a strategic ESG communications framework.

    Australia's unprecedented influx of natural disasters accelerated the need for community support. Persistent droughts, increasing temperatures, and record wind speeds at the end of 2019 ignited a wave of bushfires—the Black Summer.

    11.3 million Australian adults were physically affected by bushfire smoke, and over 10 million Australians reported feeling anxious for their personal, family, and friends' safety due to the bushfire crisis. One year later, Eastern Australia confronted the region's worst flood in six decades. 40,000 Australians evacuated, and COVID-19 vaccine shipments stalled.

    At this time, the public heavily leaned on their insurance providers to deliver premium coverage. To excel against competitors, this Australian Insurer needed to demonstrate accountability and embed environmental and social activism into a strategic communications framework.

  • Response

    This company adopted a multi-channel strategy to differentiate itself from competitors. RepTrak identified three themes that ground this insurer's proactive, short-term responses to natural disasters alongside long-term community protection goals.

    1. Innovative Community Engagement Policyholders expect coverage and community aid following a disaster. Establishing a deeper connection with the Australian community meant creating new ways to demonstrate climate risk readiness and support.

      • The public faced an intensifying reality of being underinsured due to climate risk. This company mitigated the financial consequences of the fires and floods by providing a direct partnership with builders to design new homes from the sums insured.

      • In mid-2021, the insurer launched an innovative weather tracking app to help people plan for wild weather and collected data to assess affected communities' preparedness. Following the 2022 update, the company also voiced a call to action to the Federal government. "I recently spent time in Lismore and spoke with devastated residents trying to rebuild their lives after facing multiple disasters. Now is the time to get the necessary community funding and allow mitigation projects to get underway."

      • The company launched a free, interactive video game to teach children the importance of natural disaster preparedness. Players learned how to be prepared for natural disasters through simulated rooftop sprinklers installments, helicopter rescues, and wildlife rescue.

    2. Long-standing Partnerships While the company supported local firefighting efforts and trialed new fire retardants, its commitment to environmental and social care moved past the Black Summer.

      • The insurer strives to help victim-survivors of violence and abuse. In 2020, it funded the 24/7 Australian trauma hotline and online counseling services. In 2021, its efforts continued through distributed funds to help victims gain financial security.

      • In March 2021, the company partnered with a crisis support non-profit organization to highlight the importance of mental health recovery, extend telehealth services, and ensure community resiliency after the Black Summer bushfires. Following a two-million-dollar donation, the company's campaign reached over 1.1 million views on YouTube.

    3. The Nurturing Effect This company doubled down on its willingness to help beyond its policyholders. The firm ran a campaign to foster public appreciation of endangered wildlife and underscoring how important it is for everyone to have a safe “home”. The multi-series ad campaign featured beloved native animals and heart-warming storylines that garnered international recognition. The creative ads positioned the firm as a trusted partner and protector of both local communities and cherished wildlife. "The [campaign] has been incredibly effective for our brand and business. We resisted the temptation for a shiny new creative idea and have doubled down on our commitment to this as a long idea that will keep building our brand."

  • Results

    Steadfast community engagement and product innovation reinforce this Australian insurance company's ESG and reputation strength. Specifically:

    • Reputation – Between Q1 2021 to Q4 2021, this company held strong (>70) Reputation and ESG Scores. This company illustrates the RepTrak model's strong association between ESG and Reputation Scores. Reputation and ESG partially overlap and complement one another, exhibiting a strong correlation between the scores (R2 = 0.86).

    • Competitive Advantage – In a highly competitive environment, this Insurance company's scores are on par with the major global brands in Australia, with a >30% familiarity and $500M in revenue. Relative to Australia Benchmark 60 North Star Index, the company's strong Reputation Score ranks in the top 15.

    • Excellent Factor Scores – Its ESG communications are a vital differentiator. Excellent "Meets customer needs" and "Stands behind products and services" Product Factor Scores are bolstered by strong (>70) Citizenship and Innovative Scores throughout 2021.

    • Earned Media Recognition – The insurance company's wildlife protection campaign led to international recognition, including: o    21.4M earned global reach where 100% of the coverage was positive-neutral o    Two front-page press reports o    365 direct brand mentions across TV, radio, press, online, and social media channels o    2.7M views, 6K shares, and 22.9M impressions on Facebook o    866,200 views and over 1,100 comments on Instagram

    In return, it became the third strongest brand in Australia and the strongest insurance brand globally, based on Brand Finance's Brand Strength Index. The company also received the Gold Tangram for Effectiveness, which celebrates creativity and marketing effectiveness in the APAC creative communications industry.

  • Key Takeaways

    ESG Activism Builds Consumer Support Businesses must spearhead the global ESG revolution to accelerate stakeholder approval. RepTrak's ESG Scores have a high correlation with measured Business Outcomes, "Trust to do the right thing," "Recommend products," "Willingness to buy," and "Willingness to work for"— which is mirrored in this insurer’s experience. Among the Insurance companies RepTrak measures in Australia, this company had the highest percentage of ambassadors across seven Business Outcomes in Q4 2021.

    Form Community Ties Consistent, transparent partnerships within your community build more solid ESG perceptions. Companies that work from the ground up can expect reputation rewards.

    Engage Environmental Innovation  Today, performative ESG actions quickly fail under increased stakeholder scrutiny. To outperform competitors reputationally and build credibility, companies must deliver captivating green initiatives beyond products & services.