In 2007, Standard Insurance Company (The Standard) produced a series of advertisements selling Disability and Life Insurance to members of the California Teachers Association. The goal of the creative approach was to show that The Standard cares about teachers and what they do. It followed that, therefore, the protection The Standard provided would be outstanding.
The Standard called this series “We Understand.”
Teachers deserve understanding and respect — and The Standard’s first campaign to focus on that target group was a success. But The Standard wanted to improve on its success. It wanted a new and unique approach that would stand out in educational publications with a compelling message about its Disability and Life Insurance products.
The challenge was that this approach was not unique, and the advertisements did not stand out in educational publications as much as The Standard wished.
So the challenge became to develop new advertising that created a much bigger impact.
We arrived at just five words: “What will you leave undone?”
In one way, this approach may seem less targeted and relevant. After all, anyone might respond to this question, not just teachers.
But in the context of educational publications, the concept was a real differentiator. The approach treated teachers as human beings, not idealized saints. It acknowledged that teachers have a life outside of work. And the choice of images grabbed attention — particularly because those images are not traditional classroom photos.
The approach also had the advantage of being more direct. Both the headline and the image called attention to the benefits of the product without taking a detour through the occupation of the target audience.
THE INITIAL APPROACH: WE UNDERSTAND.
Education is a notoriously difficult vocation. Teachers must put in long hours for little pay and often less recognition. The initial concept not only reflected the facts of the profession, but sympathized with it and found common ground. The approach, using specific examples from daily lives to exemplify the rewards and challenges of the job, was fairly effective, but not as direct as it could have been. Tying understanding back to the products, The Standard offered took up precious space, and the educational imagery tended to blend in with the rest of the publication.
THE SECOND SERIES: WHAT WILL YOU LEAVE UNDONE?
These ads were written and designed to drive emotion and uncertainty: At the moment you need Disability or Life Insurance, you are caught by surprise — most likely you’re in the middle of some unfinished business. By showing a half-painted wall or a pile of unpaid bills, the line drove home the message of uncertainty.
This straightforward approach used images from daily life to communicate an intangible product.