A smelly pack proved to be the cat's whiskers


SunLife wanted to reach online enquirers about their pet insurance quickly – before they bought elsewhere - to convert them to purchase.


The key strategy for the campaign was based on a simple insight: if SunLife couldn’t persuade someone to take out SunLife Pet Insurance (as demonstrated by the fact they hadn’t bought at the online quotation stage) they were sure their pet could. So they set out to see if they could make it seem like their pet was endorsing pet insurance.

By using ‘smelly packs’ SunLife could create an engaging story about how their pet knew a good thing when they saw it – or, in this case, smelt it. It was a great way to get their pets paying attention to the pack for reasons that wouldn’t be immediately obvious to their owner.  And, since SunLife only insures cats and dogs they only needed two versions. For cats, peppermint was the answer (online people were saying it was almost as effective as catnip).  For dogs they tested aniseed and a few other scents but it was the meaty smell of bacon that they really responded to.

Digital print allowed SunLife to reach enquirers quickly. SunLife could print on demand, as there were no set-up costs, so the mailings could go out as frequently as needed; when triggered by an online quote. Digital print also meant that SunLife could use all the data about the enquirer’s pet from their quote – whether they had a cat of a dog, if it was male or female and its name.

Two versions of a roll-fold mailer were produced – one for dog owners, one for cat owners. The creative showed cats or dogs licking their lips, sniffing the copy or leaping about – all the actions that SunLife hoped the pack would elicit. Each digitally printed copy was personalised throughout, including the pet’s name big and bold on the front and back. 

Customers were emailed in advance telling them to look out for the pack and asking them to upload a film clip of their pet’s reaction to it on social media.

Finally, SunLife introduced a 10% discount in the pack. That meant they weren’t giving away margin to people who went online and bought on their first visit but gave enquirers who hadn’t bought a new reason to go back and purchase now they were getting a better deal.


The smelly mailing produced some powerful results. Response rate to the mailings was nearly 7% - almost twice the target. Sales during the campaign rose by 21% achieving a campaign ROI of 3.8:1.

Average premium income was 11% higher than expected as more people chose the Gold or Silver insurance packages compared to those buying SunLife’s pet insurance on aggregator sites.

Brand tracking showed that SunLife’s brand consideration rose by 7% during the campaign. The campaign was covered in the trade press and shared on social media with many sharing great footage of cats and dogs going crazy for the pack; pawing at it, smelling it, playing with it and even carrying it around with them.

Finally, SunLife also gained useful insights into which enquirers came back to the site (for example, a higher proportion of dog owners went back and bought compared to cat owners).

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