Trenwick Reinsurance
| Branding | Positioning | Marketing | Promotion | Strategy | Look & Feel

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How we helped introduce, launch, and brand Trenwick Re:

A newly formed reinsurance company (start up), Trenwick Reinsurance needed the proper introduction to enter into a business world where old line, established, conservative companies (like Lloyds of London) are the competition, and where business is (almost always) taken very seriously.

In the reinsurance world, new business comes primarily from longstanding relationships (rather than advertising or promotion), and trust and credibility are paramount. These factors make it incredibly challenging for a new reinsurance company to break in.

Here's the story...

TRENWICK RE was a newly formed reinsurance coverage provider with innovative ideas and concepts, however... few if any trust new reinsurance companies, and innovation is not popular until it is proven (which may take centuries).

To successfully compete with others like Lloyds of London, and makes its mark in a believable and credible fashion, Trenwick needed a miracle. Underlining the 'RE' in the logo design helped present a modern image - but much more was required.

A 'traditional' approach would not be the solution since it would not get noticed. Any form of 'trust me' campaign would be overlooked and disbelieved. On the other hand, a 'cutting edge' approach would cause resistance in such a traditional business.

Defining the problem.

We determined that the real 'problem' with any new player in the reinsurance industry was that those in the industry would prefer to work with the old players. The approach that we determined might work was to compel those in the industry with a short, poignant, intriguing and inspiring concept that would pique their curiosity while making them feel a part of it.

Those in the risk business are not risk takers. However, we also realized that the those in the industry are competitive and willing to take a bit of a rebel approach (as long as it's not too rebellious).

Key objectives:

a. To introduce Trenwick while branding and positioning Trenwick as an innovative new reinsurance company (yet not too innovative as to cause resistance)

b. To make the introduction in a memorable and  instantly recognizable way, and a way that would be talked about in the industry (as well as the Press) for years.

c.  Position Trenwick with a unique marketing platform, and give Trenwick 'character' and 'legs' plus its own unique corporate 'persona'.

How did we accomplish all of these goals at the same time?




Trenwick Re: was a privately held company and therefore did not require an Annual Report. However, since the industry was accustomed to Annual Reports, we created 'tongue in cheek' versions in place of brochures. See the Annual Report. The Annual Report featured the executives of Trenwick cutting their own (neck) ties.

We developed the theme: "cutting old school ties"

"Cutting old school ties" helped Trenwick  brand and make a name for itself in an old, and very established market.

We used the theme in all of Trenwick's communications... Trenwick ads, promotions, and all of Trenwick's marketing and promotional tools.

The RISK Symposium (and lots of half-cut neck ties).

The RISK Symposium was the reinsurance industry trade show, a three day event held at the Westin Bonaventure complex in Los Angeles.

Prior to the event, we photographed the principles in front of an old one room red school house in Connecticut (nearby Trenwick headquarters). This photograph was enlarged 'life size' and became the backdrop for the Trenwick exhibit booth. The principles of Trenwick, whether in the booth or not, appeared in the booth on the back wall. This gave them face recognition throughout the hotel complex, and was even more fun when they could stand next to themselves in the booth.

The 'invitation':

Ties with dotted lines (for self-service cutting) were designed and manufactured, and given away along with a pair of Trenwick logo scissors (delivered by messenger in advance as the 'invitation').

The Trenwick custom neck tie design featured a little red school house pattern, along with a 'cut on the dotted line' diagonal, and the Trenwick logo on the back where the manufacturer's label normally appears.



We designed and built a three-foot tall hand operated 'tie-cutting machine' .

A tower-like kiosk featured two television screens at its top facing in both aisle directions. Inside this kiosk, a built-in video camera (focused on the hand operated tie-cutting machine) captured the moment when the reinsurance industry executive 'did the symbolic deed' and cut his/her tie.

The 6" blade of the tie-cutting machine, though sharp, sometimes completely cut off the tie on the dotted line, and sometimes left a remnant hanging (both good results).

For added drama (and better video), the tie-cutting machine was designed in such a way that the executive first had to approach the machine and have the tie 'locked in' prior to cutting.


A top reinsurance executive on video 'locked in' just before the blade cut off his tie.

The video of the executives cutting off their ties instantly assembled all those who had 'cut their old school ties' back to back. The tie-cutting video ran as an endless loop throughout the symposium for passers by to see. This in itself drew a crowd.

In addition to the excitement, notoriety, and foot traffic that the tie-cutting machine and video brought to the Trenwick booth...

... it soon became impossible to walk through any area of any of the Symposium hotels without bumping into an executive proudly sporting a half-sheared tie. Of course this caused a lot of word of mouth, and caused even more people to show up at the Trenwick booth to have their ties cut off.

Trenwick management was very busy cutting senior executive's neck ties.

While Trenwick's  competitors entertained  guests with dull rhetoric on leather couches, and little to inspire guests, Trenwick management was busy cutting ties from the necks of key reinsurance executives (we estimate at least 2400), who proudly wore them throughout the convention center and hotels for the duration of the symposium.

We know that we manufactured and handed out 2800 Trenwick neck ties, however, we cut many more. Why?

In an effort to 'one up' each other in a competitive fashion, many reinsurance executives at the Symposium made the extra effort to run out and buy a number of very expensive Hermes ties just to have them cut in half at the Trenwick booth.

A lot of people started talking about Trenwick, and nearly everyone was sporting half-cut ties.

Trenwick was an overnight hit with many new customers and a very memorable 'introduction'.

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