When making a list of universal objects of scorn and revulsion there are few so seemingly deserving of inclusion as big insurance companies. Everyone pretty much agrees they are skeevy bottom feeding bastards. Oh, sure, they smile and grin as they pat you on the back, happily helping you plan all the protection you could ever need. Family, home, life, auto, disability, you name it and they’ll offer a coverage for it. In return they ask only a modest premium, indexed and annexed six ways from Sunday. We grumble but they cheerily remind us that it is a mere pittance in exchange for what they are providing: peace of mind.


In full flush of their friendly attendance to our needs it’s easy to overlook the cold, hard calculations being done in the background. You know the ones where they meticulously weigh the odds and probabilities of exactly how many people will die in plane crashes during the month of February or the numerical likelihood of being maimed by a cougar while navigating a flight of stairs. More often than not this is the part of the insurance company most of us come face to face with when the shitzu actually does hit the fan. No more smiles and baked cookies then. Only dissertations on what is not covered mixed with accusations of fraud and a remarkably biblical adherence to contracts signed in happier days when the small print was simply referred to as “standard stuff” as we read none of it and focused instead on the shiny silver pen we got to keep after joining up. (Boo-yah!)


It would be nice to claim the moral high ground but humanity’s collective ability to be astonishingly creative when filing insurance claims limits us dramatically. Yes there really are people that have attempted to claim their pre-house fire bathrooms contained diamond encrusted toothbrushes, dual 52”inch plasma televisions and at least one Monet.


Anyway, with the obvious image issues at play in the insurer-insured relationship how do they make people not actually hate them while still managing to set themselves apart from the competition? Some have chosen humour through their use of slightly eccentric pitch-beings (see cavemen, ducks, geckos, etc) while others go with more authoritative and strong voice-overs who simply hypnotize us into a calm placidity solely through the timber of their dreamy, hyper-masculine voice.


Liberty Mutual in the States did something different however. And in a way, I think their ads could even be plausibly called public service announcements because of it


The one running now is actually the second in a series and is based on a very simple and basic notion. It’s a sort of hybrid version of the “pay it forward” ideal.


In the ad a very resonant song called “The Part Where You Let Go” plays as we see a series of people doing easy, seemingly insignificant things that help out a perfect stranger, each time witnessed by another perfect stranger who then goes on to do his or her own easy, seemingly insignificant thing to help someone else and on and on. This continues until it comes all the way around to the very first person we started from neatly closing the circle. Their tag line at the end of the ad declares “When it’s people doing the right thing they call it being responsible. When it’s an insurance company they call it Liberty Mutual.”


I can be cynical with the best of them but this ad just gets the hairs on the back of my neck to stand straight up. The pure notion behind the idea of producing tiny, random acts of kindness and trusting that they will lead to a better world and happier people is transcendent. How can anyone watch this ad and not appreciate the sentiment being reached for here? It is truly an advertisement for a better world. For a better way of living – and it’s not complex. Not even all that hard, just an ability and a will to lend a hand when someone could use one for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do.


For an insurance company to tie themselves to such an idea is amazing. It lifts the bar really high for them ideal wise. And what if they actually mean it?  What if they really do want to be held to a higher standard? Because if they do, if their advertising really is to be believed then they truly deserve every extra piece of business that flows their way because of these ads.


If however for some reason they don’t mean it, if it really is just a shill technique designed to bring in the bucks then that’s kind of sad but only really for them. You see as long as they’re running and paying for these ads and average people can get even a stylized chance to see how easy it really is to add some good to the world then maybe it really can become a better place.


And when you think about it we really ought to be able to do that whether we have a good insurance company or not, shouldn’t we? Nice work Liberty Mutual, keep it up.

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