Marketing ‘characters’ must not overshadow brand message warns Budget Direct marketer

The marketing boss of Budget Direct has warned that characters created to front advertising campaigns must not be allowed to overshadow the brand itself as the insurance firm continues to roll out its Captain Risky marketing push.

Jonathan Kerr, director of marketing and digital, stressed the need to “strike a balance” between the character,  brand and platform and ensure the key marketing message is not lost amid the desire to create a memorable central theme.

Captain Risky, a reckless, incompetent daredevil, was introduced by Budget Direct at the start of the year – to mixed reviews – to replace the aliens which had fronted the brand since 2012.

The change in direction followed the appointment of 303Lowe as its creative agency.

Kerr described engagement levels on social channels as “amazing” with the Captain Risky Facebook page attracting 32,000 fans with some posts drawing 2,000 likes and 200 comments.

captain risky facebook post“Having a dialogue in a way that gets on the public radar and into their conscience about what we do and why we are different was the critical piece,” he said. “People’s interest in the character and the way it entertains and gets across our proposition has been great.”

Kerr claimed Budget Direct has been the “pioneer” in ensuring customers only pay for their own risk, with no cross-subsidisation. But articulating that in a 30-second advert is tough, he admitted.

“The way we have done that manifests itself in Captain Risky,” Kerr told Mumbrella. “From a communication perspective, when you boil things down to the base level that we have, it’s clearly important that people understand the message.

“One of the core lines of the campaign is telling people that we don’t insure Captain Risky in order to keep prices low. We have done a lot of post campaign research to see if people understand the real benefit for them, that they can save a lot of money. In testing that has come through very well.”

While public interaction with Captain Risky has been strong – with suggestions he should have his own TV show – Kerr said the focus needs to be the promotion of a marketing message.

“You have to get the balance right between the character itself and this being a platform for the brand, and there are plenty of examples where that can work well.



“Is the Energizer Bunny bigger than the battery? The reality is people still know it as the Energizer Bunny but it’s important to get that balance right.

“Our job is to make sure there is a message at the core of it and make sure we get significant cut through. And why not make Australia smile while we’re at it.”

Kerr hinted at further developments of the character with Budget looking at different ways of taking the campaign to market.

“Creativity and innovation is at the core of the business. We will do scale advertising but also try to differentiate ourselves by being different,” he said.

Asked to elaborate on future plans, Kerr said: “Watch this space.”

While TV will remain a key part of its advertising mix, Kerr said video assets increasingly will be used in a variety of channels, including catch up TV and YouTube.

It was important not to cling to traditional formulas but to “market where people are, not where you want them to be”, he said.

“Yes, you’ll see the ad on The Voice and The Project but at the same time we also purchase spots within catch up TV because we know audiences are not seeing the ad through terrestrial TV,” Kerr said.

“But for a very long time the marketing budget has been 50/50 in terms of digital and TV. We hear people from big brands saying they spend 40 per cent of their budget on digital like it’s a big deal.

“We’ve spent 50 per cent or more of our budget on digital for five or six years.”

Steve Jones


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.