Leicester insurance firm lambasted over Harold Shipman advert

The firm has become known for its provocative marketing

A Leicester firm which says it offers “life insurance without the bullshit” has been branded “beyond despicable” for using a photo of serial killer Harold Shipman in its advertising.

DeadHappy, which calls itself “the home of the deathwish” used a photo of Shipman, who is thought to have murdered up to 250 people during his time as a GP in the north-west, using the strapline “Life Insurance. Because you never know who your doctor might be.”

DeadHappy said it “wanted to make people stop and think” by using the image.

The Advertising Standards Agency says it has received around 50 complaints about the advert.

Senior figures from the insurance industry have reacted angrily to DeadHappy’s marketing campaign.

Kathryn Knowles, managing director at Yorkshire-basd Cura Insurance, Tweeted: “There is a firm that is promoting life insurance using the picture of a mass murderer to promote their services. I will name neither as I won’t give them the satisfaction of popping up in more search results.

“Please know that many of us in insurance find this beyond despicable.”

Replying in a statement, DeadHappy’s founder Andy Knott said: “We are called DeadHappy and our strapline is ‘Life insurance to die for’ so we are aware of the provocative and to some the very shocking nature of our brand.

“But being provocative is different to being offensive and it is of course never our intention to offend or upset people. It is our intention to make people stop and think. If however you have been personally distressed by this advert we do sincerely apologise.

“DeadHappy has positioned itself as a new and creative player in the life insurance industry through its blunt but often humorous branding. With straplines such as ‘life insurance to die for’ and ‘please die responsibly’, the insurer is clearly looking to bring life insurance to younger consumers with its unique branding and website design featuring skulls and graffiti-style writing. It uses very direct and simple language, and everything can be done online, as it looks to engage millennials in the life insurance market. According to the insurer itself, 8.5 million UK adults do not have life insurance, so there is clearly large, untapped potential within the market.

“DeadHappy is looking to change consumer attitudes towards death and make conversations surrounding life insurance less arduous than many believe is currently the case. This advertising campaign is quite on-brand for the company, which has already been in trouble once for allegedly ‘trivializing suicide’ in an advert in 2019. Perhaps stepping over the line again, this will continue to drive interest in the band, and perhaps ultimately, grow interest in purchasing life insurance when people see it treated in a different light to traditional players. Despite the current negative headlines featuring in publications beyond the insurance press, DeadHappy may feel the publicity will be beneficial in the long run.”


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