Aviva offers consumers a sticky embrace in new cradle-to-grave campaign by AMV/BBDO

2012 may go down as the year when advertising tried to wrap consumers in an all-encompassing sticky embrace; not trying to sell them stuff (overtly anyway) but presenting themselves as a kind of life partner, cradle-to-grave marketing (or CTG) as we will dub it.

In the UK John Lewis has been at it for about three years now, to great effect it must be acknowledged, and the Co-op under new agency Leo Burnett, is at it too with its new line ‘Here For You For Life.’

Tesco might argue it got there first with ‘Every Little Helps’ but that’s not quite life and death enough for today’s marketers.

Now insurance giant Aviva (Norwich Union as was) has joined the teardrop express with a new AMV/BBDO global campaign (even though it’s rather less of a global company than it was) with the theme ‘When the big things in life happen little things matter.’ So we have a seven days of man spin (also used by Google and John Lewis agency Adam & Eve/DDB a while back) with comedian Paul Whitehouse abandoning his cheeky chappie Brummie persona to become Everyman, cancer comforter and all.

Of course this stuff only works (if indeed it does work) if the company’s performance lives up to it and in the case of many companies it doesn’t, despite all their vast spending on PR and ‘consumer social responsibility (CSR).’ Try contacting most of them either through a call centre or online and you find out how much they actually care.

It’s the same at the January sales this year, crafty companies offering big discounts on a percentage of a certain line and then whacking the price back up again. There’s always some crafty herbert trying to extract a buck without you noticing (although mostly you do) and a CFO and CEO applauding him for it.

It’s like Google: ‘Don’t be evil’ but don’t pay your taxes either.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.