One fine day, said the tax man to the film crew.

We always welcome the chance to work with Third City PR. Teaming up to do some great work. So when they called us about working on a two-minute film for their client The Association of British Insurers, we jumped right in.

The ABI were looking to highlight the absurdity of the added tax to insurance policies – which, in effect, was seen as a tax on the responsible. Alongside Third City, we developed a winning concept ’Taxing the Responsible’; pushing each other to hit the sweet spot with the humour.

So, what are the everyday things responsible people do?

Well, they lock up their homes before heading out for the day. If they’re drivers, they keep an eye out at pedestrian crossings for people looking to cross. And, if they’re dog owners, they keep a ready supply of plastic bags to hand.

Add a fictional official going around handing out parking tickets to people doing the right thing, and you have the recipe for some entertaining improv.

From there, Curveball set to work. Casting the official. Sourcing locations, permissions and props. We couldn’t testify when the absurd started spilling out onto the set. Was it when we were experimenting with varietals of fake poo? Or when we were redirecting hundreds of children flocking in on an unscheduled charity school run? Or was it witnessing a potential Apocalypse? But we’ll come to that …

Strategy

We were interested in that moment when you’re faced by a situation in which, logically, you know this shouldn’t be happening and yet you’re pre-programmed to go along with your assumed roles. In these fictional situations, a figure of authority confronts members of the public and hands them a fine – a situation in which we are pre-programmed to accept the outcome, even when the fines are absurd and the situation illogical. We wanted to capture that moment between the person thinking “this isn’t real” and “this might be real”.

Plan

We planned to show environments associated with three key insurance policies – home, car and pet. So each circumstance was set within these arenas. Although the piece was scripted, Olly (the director) wanted the freedom to let the piece play out spontaneously, so encouraged improvisation throughout the shoots. For this to work effectively, finding the right official was crucial.

The Key

The key to this campaign working so effectively was the open relationship we have with Third City. Everything in the film can be taken back to conversations during the planning and there is no point where you could identify a scene that did not have Curveball and Third City working together to make it right.

Filming Day

abi film parkSetting out at 5am on day one of filming -16th October 2017 – the team (director, cameraman, runners, and one dog) piled into a fleet of vehicles and headed to the shoot. While they were setting up in the park, one of the runners ran off to scout for the cafe, which a local had promised was close (somewhere nearby to provide shelter, food, warmth, and, um, relief). So when the runner jogs back, shaking his head no, you’d assume the cafe was closed. But the runner goes one better, The cafe isn’t built yet.

Moving on, the director Olly starts filming the park scene with one Labrador, a dog owner and official. Communicating directions to a dog has its own set of problems without an unscheduled school charity run coming into the equation. Hundreds of school children and one excitable dog. I’ll leave what happens next to your imaginations. With the sidebar that no children or animals were harmed on the day.

The Apocalypse

Moving on, picture the scene. Pedestrian crossing. Marshals redirecting traffic at either end of the street. Three minutes of shooting at a time. Which is when the team starts growing conscious of how much daylight there is remaining. And then the sun disappears. Yes, disappears. Because, as I mentioned earlier, this is the 16th October – the day of a category 2 Hurricane – when the skies turned sepia, and you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching the end of the world.

Ever the professionals though, the team kept the cameras rolling.

Results…

In terms of views, more than three thousand people watched the video on The ABI’s YouTube channel alone. And in the wider media, Third City reported 1.5 million views!

But views wasn’t the goal, changing perceptions of unfairness was. Industry heavyweight Jeff Prestridge described the campaign as “the best thing the association has produced in a many a year” adding: “For once, I side with the insurance industry.”

And no further rises in IPT were announced on Budget day.

The video also won Third City a coveted award at the PRCA’s City & Financial Awards for the Best Social Media Campaign Award 2018.

ABI tax film

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