"There is a lot of passion for gaming, pop culture and a desire for new things in this campaign"

Just under a month ago, Publicis Inspire opened a Baloise branch in the video game GTA V. The aim of the campaign was to create an entertaining approach to the topic of insurance. This was made possible by a collaboration with the role-playing game server SwissHub RP. m&k Werbewoche.ch spoke to those responsible at Publicis Inspire and SwissHub RP.

Sebastian Danielsson, Rob Hartmann and Philipp Klink are responsible for the Baloise appearance in the GTA world on behalf of Publicis Inspire. (Image: zVg.)

With the Opening of a branch in GTA V Publicis Inspire and Baloise have entered largely uncharted territory. Various in-game services from Baloise were seamlessly integrated into the role-playing game and were intended to provide gamers with an authentic gaming experience (Werbewoche.ch reported). To ensure that non-gamers could also experience the virtual Baloise experience, Publicis Inspire relied on a strong media coverage with daily livestreams on Twitch, videos on YouTube and regular status updates on LinkedIn. Advertisingweek.ch spoke to the creatives from Publicis Inspire - Rob Hartmann, Sebastian Danielsson and Philipp Klink - and the people responsible at Swisshub RP about the "Grand Theft Insurance" campaign.


How did a reputable insurance company come to open a branch in a violent shooter game that virtually presupposes criminal and risky behavior?

Publicis Inspire: It was precisely because Los Santos is so dangerous that we came up with the idea of opening a branch there. From our point of view, nowhere is insurance needed more urgently than here. People end up in hospital every day, thefts happen by the minute and the accident rate is the highest in the world. In short: where the mafia offers a bounty, there should be an opportunity to insure that bounty. Opening a branch in Los Santos was a huge challenge and also a little megalomaniacal. But true to the motto "Sometimes it works, sometimes you learn", we took the plunge. And we are convinced that our presence has made Los Santos a little safer.


Why a video game of all things?

Publicis Inspire: In order to reach a target group that is practically immune to traditional advertising, we had to venture into a place that no insurance company in Switzerland has dared to go before. With authentic content and stories created specifically for gamers. We think this is an unseen and fresh way of bringing an abstract topic like insurance to life.

32 life insurance policies and 1 (almost) death: that was the result of Sam Seiler and Jill Graf's first day at work.


How did this idea come about?

Publicis Inspire: Baloise's briefing was clear: make us the talk of Switzerland, and do so in ways that go beyond the traditional advertising channels. "Sometimes it works, sometimes you learn" is a great way to create unconventional and new ideas. Just as Baloise encourages its customers to take risks, it has also motivated us to think in new ways. With a little clever creation, the idea of "opening an insurance branch in the most dangerous city in the world" was born. And it doesn't get more dangerous than Los Santos from Grand Theft Auto. The deeper we delved into the topic, the more we realized what an opportunity it was for Baloise to make an impression on the gaming community in Switzerland. But to really get actively involved in a game and create communication away from in-game banners or loading screens, we needed a private role-playing server. Only here do we have the absolute freedom to create buildings, plan events and implement new game mechanics such as insurance. With SwissHub RP, we were not only able to win over the largest Swiss role-playing server, but also a dedicated group of absolute professionals who actively supported us with the implementation.


What motivated SwissHub to take part in the campaign?

SwissHub: The campaign gives us the opportunity to become more involved in the Swiss market. There is still a big gap in the Swiss gaming community. With the collaboration of Swiss companies, brands, products and so on, we want to bring Switzerland and our gaming community closer together and continue to grow as a server.

Swisshub acts as a digital meeting place for the Swiss gaming scene and organizes tournaments and events in various genres.

How did the customer Baloise react to the idea?

Publicis Inspire: We knew that it would take courage on all sides to implement such a campaign. The first reaction from Baloise showed that we were exactly right with our idea: "Let's do it!". From that moment on, we worked on the campaign concept together with great enthusiasm. Grand Theft Insurance is the result of many courageous decisions by people who are passionate about an idea - both on the customer side and on the agency and partner side. Although there were more rapid-fire weapons in the original idea, they were shot down together (laughing).

The in-game general agents Jill Graf and Sam Seiler act as contact persons for virtual customers.


How was the collaboration with Publicis and Baloise?

SwissHub: Working with Baloise and Publicis was an exciting and new experience for us. The discussions and planning were very collegial and pleasant, our work was greatly appreciated and we received good feedback. We would agree to a project with Publicis or Baloise again at any time.


And what was the collaboration like from Publicis Inspire's perspective?

Publicis Inspire: This idea brought with it a thousand challenges. Without the cooperation with SwissHub RP, we would not have managed this project. The first joint exchange began with our question "Is that possible?", followed by "Is that possible? Will this work too?". So began an extremely instructive and exciting time. Together with SwissHub RP, we built a real Baloise building, designed a fleet of cars and helicopters, programmed insurance policies and installed Baloise-branded ATMs. But most importantly, we planned and implemented the stories that have kept us entertained over the past few weeks.

The Baloise driver safety training course ends in a chaotic car race.


What challenges arose during the implementation process?

SwissHub: Many companies are put off by the very name GTA, as it is associated with violence, drugs and sex, among other things. Our contacts are also often far removed from the gaming world, which also makes it difficult to argue or leads to misunderstandings. We were therefore unsure at the beginning whether the project would come to fruition. But Baloise believed in the collaboration. The fact that the campaign was such a success makes us all the more proud.


Publicis Inspire: Changing the actual map of GTA to include the giant Baloise headquarters, branding a fleet of cars and helicopters in the Baloise look - adding clothing, models and character creation. These are some of the challenges we had to face. We had weekly meetings with SwissHub and have been in close contact with them for months. But the process also included introducing our prospective general agents to the task of managing a branch in the digital space: how to play the game, how to play a role, how all the Baloise insurance policies work - and how to sell them. Even before the launch on February 7, the two spent more than 100 hours on the test server to acquire knowledge of all the tools, vehicles, helicopters and, of course, every single insurance policy.


How was Baloise's appearance received by the role-play community?

SwissHub: The brand's appearance has been very well received by the community. As with every other Swiss brand, we are delighted when we can bring more "Swissness" to our project.


What impact has the campaign had on SwissHub so far?

SwissHub: It was also very positive for us. New companies have become aware of us and we have already been contacted several times. In addition, there have been almost 300 new players on Discord and in roleplay since the start of the campaign.


Is anyone from Publicis Inspire online on GTA?

Publicis Inspire: It wasn't just the general agents who were active in the game. Employees at Publicis Inspire were also spotted out and about in Los Santos - even our Executive Creative Director found his way into the virtual world. There is a lot of passion for gaming, pop culture and the desire to discover new things in this campaign. It's simply infectious. It was a huge adventure for us. Who knows what will happen from now on.

Publicis-ECD Rob Hartmann's GTA avatar.

Responsible at Baloise: Florina Perroud (Senior Employer Branding Manager), Manuel Thomas (Senior Online Marketing Manager), Daniel Zangger (Head of Branding), Roberto Brunazzi (Head of Media Relations). Responsible at Publicis Inspire: Rob Hartmann (Executive Creative Director), Sebastian Danielsson (Senior Art Director), Philipp Klink (Senior Copywriter), Nico Yang (Art Director), Celina Stadler (Graphic Designer), Lea Zaydowicz (Account Director), Dragana Knezevic (Account Director), Tanja Schuler (Junior Account Manager), Rahel Dürsteler (Senior Social Consultant), Lara Zehnder (Social Creative), Tatjana Streit (Social Consultant), Michel Nellen (Creative Amplification Director), Matthias Koller (overall responsibility). In-game realization: SwissHub RP.

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