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To ban or not to ban?

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December 11, 2019

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That was the question…

In September 2019, we received a report from the ASA that one anonymous individual had raised a complaint against one of our adverts. They thought the ad was alluding to depression and male youth suicide and therefore challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and offensive, when actually it was about the frustration of applying for traditional life insurance. The ASA subsequently upheld the complaint, saying that the ad was: “trivialising the issue of suicide and alluding to it to promote life insurance… the ad was likely to cause serious offense to some people, including those who had been personally affected by suicide, and was irresponsible.

The ad

“The ad shows a man banging his head against a wall in frustration because of the difficulty he feels when trying to get traditional life insurance. We are in no way aiming to trivialise suicide or give offence to anyone affected by mental health. We recognise that this is a difficult topic to talk about and we’ve been working hard to help open up those conversations. We feel that the ASA’s ruling is their misunderstanding of our ad. We are trying hard to get people thinking about and planning for their death, and having protection in place for the people they love most. This ruling could easily shut those conversations down.” — Phil Zeidler – Co-Founder DeadHappy

Why we used the image

As life insurance is a typically dull subject, we use a lot of images that are abstract or absurd because they are striking or thought provoking. The image we used was never intended to depict depression and suicide. It shows a man banging his head against a wall, frustrated with traditional life insurance. If you want to see the image we used, it’s freely available on Unsplash, with the description “man in black suit banging his head on wall”.

Our thinking

Breaking barriers

People often only see our eye-catching brand, but underneath what you’ll find is a far greater purpose. DeadHappy’s purpose is to change attitudes to death. We want to remove the taboo that still exists around death by helping people to start talking about it and planning for it. That’s a healthy approach to death both for the individual and their families, and one that we passionately believe in. Changing attitudes towards mental health is particularly hard. Life insurance providers have been talking about solving mental health problems for a long time, but we’ve actually redesigned the product to make it easier for people with mental health conditions to get approved for life insurance plans at a standard price. Our approach to mental health gives everyone a chance to apply for life insurance. We’re able to accept customers with diagnosed mental health conditions at normal standard prices, and lift the suicide exclusion after 12 months if their conditions are shown to be managed appropriately. The list of conditions we accept is long, and includes anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts, among many others. We believe mental health conditions can be one of the biggest barriers between customers and traditional life insurance providers, and we’re actively working to break down those barriers and give people options and access to life insurance that traditional insurers can’t – or won’t – provide. We do that because it’s the right thing to do.

The protection gap

We’re actively increasing customer accessibility by encouraging people to get life insurance. These people often form part of the protection gap – those who need life insurance but don’t have it. They make up 8.1 million people1 in the UK alone. Also, we do something unique in the life insurance industry: we review plans yearly. Our check-in process lets us catch up with our customers each year and see if anything has changed and if their cover is still correct for their needs. We make sure their plan works well for them, make any necessary changes and make sure it’s relevant for their life. This means we can continue to keep prices low for everyone. Every other type of insurance allows for changes and can change the price so it suits them better. Why can’t all life insurance work our way?

What our customers think

We have an NPS of over 80, and on Trustpilot our score is 4.9 out of 5, and we are rated excellent. We receive a lot of positive comments about the way we engage with our customers. Many of the reviews mention how pleased customers are at being accepted even though they have mental health conditions. On the first page alone, there are two separate customers thanking us for accepting them on the grounds of anxiety and bipolar disorder. See for yourself here: