Convincing people to buy life insurance is not easy. When you’re young, you think you’re invincible and you don’t need to. It is only when we buy a family home and take out a mortgage that this is seriously considered – and even then many avoid it.
This may explain why some companies use shock tactics to get people to consider coverage, which pays out a tax-free lump sum upon death. In isolated cases, the tactics are more sickening than shocking.
The latest advert from DeadHappy, an online seller of life insurance underwritten by the Cheshire-based Shepherds Friendly Society, is as obnoxious as it gets.
Sick: DeadHappy Facebook ad featuring Harold Shipman
Appearing on Facebook, it features a picture of serial killer Dr Harold Shipman, along with a tagline that reads, “Life Insurance”. Because you never know who your doctor might be.
For those who forgot Shipman – or missed the 2002 ITV drama Harold Shipman: Doctor Death, starring James Bolam – he was found guilty in January 2000 of murdering 15 elderly patients in his care. He is also suspected of being responsible for 250 other deaths. He committed suicide in 2004 while serving a life sentence at Wakefield Prison in Yorkshire.
DeadHappy likes to push the limits. Its tagline is “life insurance to die for”, while previous ads have included a photo of a pigeon pooping next to the words: “We think life insurance is s#*!” So we redesigned it.
But the Shipman ad is a step too far. Certainly, financial protection advisors think so.
They lashed out at DeadHappy via online financial publication FTAdviser – saying the ad is disrespectful to the families of those murdered by Shipman. A relative of a victim took to social media to tell DeadHappy: ‘Your latest advertisement using his image is despicable and unacceptable.’ The advertisement is also defamatory of the medical profession.
The Shepherds Friendly Society is not impressed either. He told me, “We expressed our views to DeadHappy that the social media ad featuring Harold Shipman was obnoxious and inappropriate.
“We are attached to our values and this does not correspond to them. We have asked DeadHappy to remove the ad immediately and are currently investigating the matter. On Wednesday, I asked DeadHappy founder Alan Knott if the ad would be taken down — he dodged the question.
But he said: “We are aware of the provocative (and for some very shocking) nature of our brand. But being provocative is different from being offensive and of course it is never our intention to offend or upset people.
“Our intention is to make people stop and think.”
On Friday, Knott softened his stance and admitted the Shipman ad was out of order. He said, “We made a mistake. We will now leave and immediately review all of our current and future marketing campaigns.
Some people have already reported the announcement to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), an organization quite familiar with DeadHappy. In 2019, it banned its ad of a man leaning his head against a wall with the slogan (again): “Life insurance to die for.”
The ASA concluded that advertising trivialized suicide.
If you want to complain about Shipman advertising, contact asa.org.uk/make-a-complaint.
Charities that deserve a resounding endorsement
On the ropes: Ringer Tim Lowe says charities need more financial support
The bell ringers at St Thomas’ Church in Mellor, Lancashire, are a spirited bunch. Over the years they have raised a lot of money for charities – big ones such as Cancer Research UK and Prostate Cancer UK – as well as local charities such as St Ann’s Hospice in Cheadle.
In seven days, the team of five campanologists will celebrate the feast of Saint Agatha (patron saint of bell founders and breast cancer patients) by encouraging locals to climb up to the belfry and ring Old Paddy, a three-quarter bell ton.
For a donation big or small, locals can also sample the Bell Ringers’ Soup, which includes a drop of whiskey.
Those who want to try their hand at the sound of the bells can participate from 11:30 a.m. Ringer team member Tim Lowe first contacted me about the rising cost of his home coverage but also wanted to talk about the fact that many cancer charities have desperately need financial support.
So if you can’t make it to Mellor, consider donating directly to charities – just mention ‘Festivals of Bells’ – and if you’re a taxpayer, don’t forget to boost your donation with Gift Aid.
Tim says they have great plans for Coronation Day (May 6). He also persuaded me to visit them at some point and call.
This is another nearly ticked item on my to-do list.
NS&I listens and increases its tariff again
First, the good news. Government-backed thrift giant NS&I has (again) listened to readers of this column – and for the second time in as many months it has raised the premium bond price rate.
The bad news? Well, the increase is not as generous as it should be.
The effective annual interest rate will rise next month from 3% to 3.15%, below the 3.5% we have collectively called for.
Boost: Government-backed savings giant NS&I has (again) listened to this column’s readers
But as my dear mother Helen would say when I got a used Action Man for Christmas – rather than a brand new one – beggars can’t choose.
The higher prize rate will be in place when the February draw takes place on Wednesday.
This will mean more winners in all prize categories except £1million (two winners per month) and £25. Although the Bank’s base rate is due to rise a day later from 3.5% to 4%, which would make some savings accounts more attractive, I would stick with your premium bonds.
They offer a little fun in a world where fun is rare.
As NS&I Managing Director Ian Ackerley said a few days ago, the price rate is at its highest level in over 14 years when between May and November 2008 it stood at 3, 4%.
For those with premium bonds in their portfolio, good luck on Wednesday. I hope you receive a message from NS&I stating that you are a winner (fingers crossed).
Last week, I invited readers to let me know if they had ever won more than nine Premium Bond awards in a single month. It followed a challenge from Norwich-based Paul Parsons, who revealed he and wife Patricia had already won nine awards between them.
A number of you came forward (thank you) to say you beat the Parsons, but the ‘winners’ were Neil and Helen Hyde, from Worthing in West Sussex.
Neil, a 50-year-old estate agent, and Helen, a part-time school assistant, won 13 prizes last September, for a total of £425.
Conversely, Jenny Norman, from near Ipswich in Suffolk, hasn’t earned a penny for three months – despite having the maximum holding of £50,000.
Husband Ray, a 75-year-old antique dealer, promised to let me know if Jenny’s fortunes improved on Wednesday.
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