AXA Equitable Invites Young Adults to an Online Game of Life Insurance

Written on
Sep 22, 2011 
Gavin Dunaway  |

ADOTAS – I don’t know much about life insurance — terms like beneficiary and term insurance send chills down my spine. I find dealing with health insurance frightening enough.

However, as a 30-year-old male (31 next week) recently married and on a decent career trajectory, I’m definitely the target market for insurance giant AXA Equitable’s Pass It On!, an online game designed by BrandGames to educate younger adult consumers (lookin’ at you, Millennials) about buying life insurance.

Acknowledging that door-to-door selling is kind of outdated, Connie O’Brien, AXA Equitable vice president for Internet strategy and development, described at the Gamification Summit why her company decided to dive into the social gaming waters. She begans her presentation with lengthy disclosure chock full of the kind of legalese that makes my brain hurt.

“When I sent in this presentation to be reviewed, this is what I got back,” she quips. “Being in such a highly regulated industry proves to be a challenge to making it accessible.”

According to O’Brien, life insurance sales are at a 50-year low — in particular, young adults aren’t buying due to the unstable economic climate (and arguably negative sentiment about the insurance industry). But life insurance is something everyone needs, she argued, especially people who are starting families.  To reach this audience, “we knew we needed to look at the market differently,” she said.

And Pass It On! is different, yet oddly familiar — the game has a cheeky nostalgia factor as it resembles Milton Bradley’s board game Life, only 3D-rendered. Your player (who looks like a refugee from the Blue Man Group) rolls the dice (hits stop on a random number generator, but that’s really the same thing if you think about it) and completes a variety of missions in several U.S. locales. On a basic level, you go hunting for pots of gold while avoiding “gremlins” — that is, unexpected and costly events.

But just in case you run into a gremlin, how do you protect yourself? Well, along the way, you learn about life insurance plans and options and figure out your family’s financial future. You can always reach out to a virtual insurance agent and instantly access a glossary of terms.

There’s no real end to the game — when players reach a certain age, they simply hand over the baton to their heirs and keep going. Then there’s a leaderboard that not only adds a social element but also encourages engagement through competition.

Pass It On! seems particularly aimed at young parents – O’Brien mentioned that she played the game with her primary-school-age child, who enjoyed it so much he couldn’t be pried away. And he picked up on the terms very quickly, asking mom if in real-life their family had permanent or term life insurance.

All in all, it’s an interesting example gamification for branding purposes, especially for an industry that doesn’t have the greatest reputation. Through Pass It On!, AXA Equitable is showing an intense desire to educate potential clients. And to sweeten the pot, the company is holding two sweepstakes at the moment for $15,000 and $25,000, which might buy you a decent amount of life insurance.

Tomorrow we’ll chat about gamification uses for costumer relationship management.

Gavin Dunaway is Editor, U.S. at AdMonsters, a leading trade publication, event producer and service provider for the online advertising industry. Previously, he had been Senior Editor of Adotas, where he arrived after years of ping-ponging around various industry publications. This Washington, D.C. native and George Mason University graduate also enjoys playing electric guitar so loud that the walls shake.

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