Unworry? Not if NRMA has anything to do with it

I’ve never been a fan of advertising through fear. So I’m not at all keen on this new Leo Burnett ad for breakdown cover from NRMA.  

It features a lone woman in a car that breaks down on a busy road, intercut with shots of her looking stressed and perhaps frightened, underscored by a portentous soundtrack. She’s unable to get help on her mobile.

I played it to a female colleague without telling her what the product was, to get her reaction . Her first comment: “I thought she was going to commit suicide by jumping off the bridge.”

It seems that NRMA has moved its positioning from Unworry for its insurance brands to You’d Better Fucking Worry.

Tim Burrowes


  1. The Worst of Perth
    9 Sep 09
    10:49 am

  2. Have you seen the (I assume only Perth) ad for AAMI insurance, where black swans crap on people’s cars? More Fellini than unworry.

  3. Anon
    9 Sep 09
    10:56 am

  4. Hey Tim. Though I am a big fan of yours and Mumbrella, I thought that was a bit harsh, especially in dropping the F-Bomb. Whilst I agree with your assessment of the new work, it is only advertising, and you seem to be getting a bit too emotionally involved? I’m no prude, but would have thought that language like that detracts from the higher ground of being a journalist. mumbrella is your Brand, so take it where you like, but I, for one, tend to like your wry jabs at our industry rather than the more obvious gutteral posts.

  5. Anon
    9 Sep 09
    11:15 am

  6. NRMA Roadside Assistance is not the same brand as NRMA Insurance, which has the Unworry campaign.

  7. Fleur
    9 Sep 09
    11:53 am

  8. I walked past a bus stop poster featuring the UnWorry campaign the other day – the glass had been smashed. It made quite a picture … the words “unworry” only just visible behind the shattered glass.

  9. Damian Damjanovski
    9 Sep 09
    11:56 am

  10. Hey Tim,

    Gotta agree with 11:15 here, NRMA Insurance (IAG) and NRMA Motoring & Services (the guys who commissioned this ad) are two totally separate companies, who only share the name NRMA and logo, nothing else.

    Meanwhile, what’s with all the people posting anonymously on this (and other) marketing blogs?

  11. Anonymous
    9 Sep 09
    12:07 pm

  12. Don’t worry Tim, I understand that only half of NRMA’s members realise they are two separate organisations. It’s a common mistake and one of their biggest brand issues.

    That aside, this isn’t an ad that Leo Burnett would willingly create. I would put money on this being an explicit directive.

  13. mumbrella
    9 Sep 09
    12:07 pm

  14. Hi Damian & Anon,

    I am aware that these are different companies. (If memory serves, I think Human does the Unworry stuff). That’s why I made the distinction between the breakdown cover and insurance.

    However, consumers don’t tend to make that sort of distinction. One day NRMA will be telling them not to worry, the next it’ll be telling them to worry.

    But regardless, my main point is just that using fear is a crappy way of selling.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  15. Anon
    9 Sep 09
    12:07 pm

  16. In the eyes of the consumer, anything with the letters “NRMA” constitutes the same brand.

    They don’t care who pays for the ad, or what business unit they are from, to them it is all one and the same.

  17. The Worst of Perth
    9 Sep 09
    12:16 pm

  18. Now you’re saying “crappy”? Talk about Pottymouth central.

  19. David
    9 Sep 09
    12:21 pm

  20. It’s a very strange move in the context of the un-worry positioning.

    Picking up on Anon, NRMA is NRMA, whichever business unit, something they’d been successful at ‘integrating’ in the past.

    So considering that, irrespective of whether fear is a right or wrong strategy, a departure of this kind out from under the umbrella is very, very strange.

  21. Cheryl Gledhill
    9 Sep 09
    12:24 pm

  22. I totally thought they were the same brand.

    So which is the brand that is constantly in the news for attacking cyclists? I remember when those cyclists were hit, the CEO of the NRMA came out to essentially say they were at fault cos bikes shouldn’t be allowed on the road (I’m paraphrasing a bit here). As far as I knew, they were all the same brand…

  23. Ian Bennett
    9 Sep 09
    1:48 pm

  24. Anyone remember the Dooley Abraham Davis Chapman spots for nrma with help as the soundtrack? Same brief by the looks of it but totally different execution focussing on positive outcomes

  25. Patrick
    9 Sep 09
    2:00 pm

  26. Personally I don’t mind the ad but I like your way of viewing and assessing it regardless of the product!! How many people actually distinguish between the two products – end of the day its NRMA.

    How many of these Anon work for NRMA? Insurance or roadside assistance…

  27. Ella Smith
    9 Sep 09
    2:41 pm

  28. As a Joe Average consumer I don’t distinguish between the Roadside or Other NRMA…so it all blurs into one for me.
    Unworry, then get freaked out about being attacked, or hit, on the side of a road.

  29. Steve
    9 Sep 09
    2:52 pm

  30. Fear is stupid but it’s a nice piece of film that will be more effective than you think.

  31. Gillian
    9 Sep 09
    3:03 pm

  32. I am not a fan of advertising through fear either but given this is one of my fears when driving by myself and I am the target market, I quite liked this advertisement. I do believe that all women especially young women who are driving second or third hand cars should have some kind of roadside assistance for peace of mind. However, if your mobile is not working and you’re a deserted road, I’m not quite sure how that’s going to work either. Make sure you have a fully charged mobile on you at all times girls!

  33. Jas
    9 Sep 09
    3:17 pm

  34. This is pretty much the same tactic the RACQ (Qld) roadside assistance have been using for years. The RACQ has a woman alone at night on a rooftop carpark and her car won’t start, then a man startles her by asking if she needs help. All set to a ‘horror movie’ music piece. The fear factor seems to work in the RACQ ad.

  35. Sandra
    9 Sep 09
    3:47 pm

  36. In Sydney (not sure about other states) major freeways and motorways are monitored for breakdowns so the RTA (or respective state transit authority) would of high-tailed to the car and removed it and the driver safely, especially in peakhour.

    Why do they protray a woman in the ad as the poster child for “helpless”, who only has one friend to call? Why didn’t she tweet? And exactly how long was she standing there and where did all the cars go??

    Was that a brand-new Toyota Camry?

    Would love to be a fly on the wall at the phone call between the NRMA Insurance Brand Manager and the NRMA Roadside Assist Brand manager…

    Client/agency relationship/contracts aside, how insanely easy would it be to promote Roadside Assist in the “Unworry” campaign! A little thong could replace the membership card! So cute!!

    Coincidently there’s currently a promo on NRMA Roadside Assist on radio – sign up to 12 months and get 3 months free – maybe an ad on the incentive/benefits instead of this fear-based execution? If we’re so “frightened” of breaking down as depicted, do we need the extra incentive to join?

    Nuff said.

  37. Anon
    9 Sep 09
    3:51 pm

  38. Sandra, I was taking you seriously until you asked where all the cars went.

    Clearly you don’t understand metaphors.

  39. Anonymous
    9 Sep 09
    3:55 pm

  40. It worries me that the lady is still waiting for NRMA after all that peak traffic passing …

  41. Anonymous John Grono
    9 Sep 09
    3:57 pm

  42. I think I was behind that dumb cow in peak-hour the other day!

  43. Anonymous
    9 Sep 09
    4:01 pm

  44. That’s hilarious!! I’m with you Tim. I hate advertising through fear also and everyone uses it. I just switched from B&T to Mumbrella and I find this kind of journalism very refreshing, F bomb and all.

  45. Anonny
    9 Sep 09
    4:03 pm

  46. I think some of you are being too analytical and are missing the point, which is simply for people to think “breaking down sucks” and renew or sign-up for service. At that, I think it’ll be quite effective.

  47. Donnie Dark-oh
    9 Sep 09
    7:35 pm

  48. Nasty

  49. Annon
    9 Sep 09
    7:55 pm

  50. Check out the Mondial Assistance banner ad for their roadside assist on the http://www.roadsideassistance.com.au website. Maybe dressed up animals might be the way to go.

  51. cleon dann
    9 Sep 09
    11:37 pm

  52. i didn’t believe in thinking more than enough… i will just that is a good video clip and i enjoyed it

    cleon dann

  53. Anonymous
    10 Sep 09
    9:58 am

  54. Wow. Some interesting comments. I think it’s a very nice ad, well executed. I also think it will do it’s job. Telling people to ‘unworry’ in this context would just lead to apathy.

  55. AdGrunt
    10 Sep 09
    11:01 am

  56. Cleon,
    Do you work for a bloke called Geoff?

  57. Mikey
    10 Sep 09
    12:15 pm

  58. Marketing vs Selling.

    While critiquing their marketing, don’t forget the whole point of the exercise: selling.

    Isn’t creating a sense of urgency one of the keys to selling?

    Whether it be by fear, looming deadline, or other means?

    NRMA probably don’t give two figs about your assessment of their marketing. Provided they get some sales.

  59. Sandra
    10 Sep 09
    1:40 pm

  60. Dear Anon, Thanks for responding to my entry. I started out being serious but felt for the NRMA Roadside Assist Ad or Brand Manager, and tried to soften my comments with some light humour to empathize. We are not privy to all the political, organisational, marketing & sales or brand challenges that exist internally, which can propel communications down a certain path and then be mercilessly open to assessment through our own eyes and values systems. We’ve all been in that hot seat.

    I am not a fan of using fear generally for any kind of influence. I suspect (I could be wrong) that there is already a reasonable high awareness of the anxiety and unhappiness thats associated with breaking down anywhere, but especially acute in peak hour. I think the ad reconfirms a point already well know. The positive “benefits” of receiving the roadside assist from NRMA at this acute point of need may have been more compelling and compliment the creative promotional offer.

  61. Dave the gay art director
    10 Sep 09
    2:56 pm

  62. Totally disagree – i reckon recognising the fear or trouble in a situation and coming up with a solution is pretty effective way to sell.

    I think the ad recognises a situation people don’t like and has NRMA coming to your rescue like a knight on his big white charger (the horse, not the car variety).

    I still reckon it works with unworry IMHO

  63. Ann
    10 Sep 09
    3:23 pm

  64. Is she still waiting for the NRMA? Is that why she looks scared?

  65. Naomi
    10 Sep 09
    6:39 pm

  66. I thought the woman in the ad was about to commit suicide, leading me to think the ad was about a Help/Life Hotline or something….

    I also dislike fear based product selling. Save it for the anti smoking, anti alcohol abuse and anti speeding campaigns!

  67. Liz
    11 Sep 09
    1:41 pm

  68. Someone in the advertising community gets upset over the word fucking?

  69. Lisa
    14 Sep 09
    9:53 am

  70. I think this ad gets the message across. All I saw in it was a woman needing help. It is a welcome change for me as ANYTHING is better than those tiresome ‘Unworry’ ads. I found it so amusing that when most of Australia was doing it tough NRMA thought it could fix the problem with their patronising ‘Unworry’ ads. What about 10% off your price? People would have really appreciated that.

  71. anothermous
    19 Sep 09
    11:09 am

  72. So over-styled and over-thought it looks like something for Lifeline or the Black Dog Foundation. Too much Problem not enough resolution


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