The financial services sector is a fiercely competitive market and as such companies need to constantly be coming up new products, or at least, new ways of presenting products, so that they can gain media coverage and win new customers.
Over the last 5 years or so, two products have really stuck for me as a great way of getting a heap of coverage. The first was Yorkshire Building Society who came out with a mortgage product aimed specifically at people going through a divorce, and more recently Norwich Union who came up with a "Pay as you Drive" insurance product.
The YBS product got a mass of broadcast and print coverage and as far as I know, has been a total success and is still on the market. The Norwich Union (NU) one, in contrast, got pulled this week with the company blaming a lack of take up and the fact the car manufacturers would not get on board.
Apparently the product encouraged people to drive at off-peak times by charging them less, say 5p a mile, but up to Ã‚Â£1 a mile for peak time journeys. The company tracked this by putting a little black box in your car.
NU - BBC has not Quoted them Happy
In theory this sounded a good idea but in reality it was a PR initiative to raise NU's profile and position it as a thought leader. I am guessing that the release that announced its demise was not pushed out as hard as the one that launched it to the market place, no great shock there. Still, NU's public relations team must have been disappointed that the removal of the product did get such a big mention on the likes of the BBC.
Lets see what the next big financial services public relations gimmick will be... I remember from my days in the sector, there was something being discussed called "The Devils Mortgage" which was 6% interest rate, fixed for 6 years and with 6 months payment holiday option (666). It never got anywhere, but if you do see it popping up anywhere, you know you heard it hear first!