AIA sponsors ‘Iron Man Experience’ at Disneyland HK, in brave new co-branding move

AIA sees benefits of branding tie-up with Marvel Comics character Iron Man... and the social media mentions

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 9:21pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 11:26pm

AIA, the largest insurer in Hong Kong, will sponsor Iron Man Experience, a new attraction opening at Disneyland Hong Kong on Wednesday, reflecting the latest corporate tie-up with a comic book action character.

Iron Man is lucky to get a job in the current tough market. Snoopy was fired by Metlife in October after more than 30 years as an icon for the US insurer. The licensing agreement, estimated by Forbes at US$12 million per year, will last until 2019, but Metlife will launch a new logo from this year. The shift came as Metlife focuses more on its group life business.

As the company moves in this new direction, it will phase out its use of Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang. “We brought in Snoopy over 30 years ago to make our company more friendly and approachable during a time when insurance companies were seen as cold and distant. Snoopy helped drive our business and served an important role at the time,” said Esther Lee, global chief marketing officer of MetLife in a statement. “We have great respect for these iconic characters. However, as we focus on our future, it’s important that we associate our brand directly with the work we do and the partnership we have with our customers.”

In related development, Wonder Woman was sacked in December after serving just two months as ambassador of the United Nations. The character was initially appointed as an ambassador to promote gender equity, but the appointment led to many protests and the plan was dropped accordingly.

The sponsorship of AIA however is a much narrower scope. Snoopy was used in ads and featured in Metlife’s logo and brand identity, but the AIA-Iron Man deal is more limited in focus. AIA’s brand and logo will appear in the Iron Man attraction, Disneyland’s first Marvel-theme ride set to debut on Wednesday.

The ride will include an exhibition of Iron Man and 3D shows with motion experience where guests will be able to soar through Hong Kong’s skies alongside Iron Man.

Bonnie Tse, general manager, business strategy and marketing of AIA Hong Kong and Macau, said Iron Man and Disneyland Hong Kong are a good fit with the culture of AIA.

“We are very selective in picking up a sponsor target. We want to sponsor world class events with mass market appeal. Most importantly, we want the event to bring joy and good memories to the attendants,” Tse told the South China Morning Post on Monday.

“It is not just talking about using a character to promote our product. We believe in the values reflected in the Iron Man Experience, such legacy, protection and energy,” she said.

This marks the first time AIA has sponsored a Disneyland Hong Kong attraction. Tse would not disclose financial details of the sponsorship deal.

“This Iron Man Experience sponsorship is a long-term project. We would not rule out other cooperation in future,” Tse said.

Iron Man is became widely known after the 2008 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. The movie stars Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark, an industrialist and master engineer who is also the technologically advanced superhero Iron Man. The original Iron Man and the following two sequel films have earned US$2.42 billion at the box office worldwide.

Tse said the image of Iron Man represents themes that resonate, particularly in terms of wealth, technology and protection.

“AIA also wants to promote the idea of using insurance products to accumulate wealth and protection for your family. Iron Man is full of energy and this is also the healthy lifestyle promoted by AIA,” she said.

AIA invited agents, brokers and clients to preview the Iron Man Experience in December, an event that saw positive feedback on social media, Tse said.

“The sponsorship of Iron Man Experience is more interactive than traditional media. We have been able to generate social media mentions from our customers, brokers and agents who have enjoyed the preview,” she said.