Nikita Mishra
Jun 19, 2024

AIA’s CMO breaks down new campaign that redefines 'health'

In an exclusive interview with Campaign, Stuart Spencer delves into ‘Rethink Healthy’, the insurance brand’s new proposition to challenge health as being solely about body size, eating salads, or intensive exercise.

AIA’s CMO breaks down new campaign that redefines 'health'

Health is often portrayed as a specific size, a set of abs, and a relentless gym routine. This narrow view excludes the broader spectrum of what it means to be truly healthy. AIA, a leading insurance company, is challenging these stereotypes with its new campaign, ‘Rethink Healthy’.

Launched in collaboration with creative partner Forsman & Bodenfors Singapore, ‘Rethink Healthy’ (watch video below) aims to redefine health in a more inclusive and achievable way for the people of Asia. "Asia is getting wealthier but not healthier," said Stuart A Spencer, AIA’s Group chief marketing officer, in an exclusive conversation with Campaign Asia-Pacific.

"Look at the high prevalence of lifestyle diseases, including diabetes, in markets such as India. As an insurer, we want our consumers to get healthier and make better choices," Spencer stated. "The research is unequivocal: consumers need and want help. AIA’s ‘Rethink Healthy’ campaign is a direct response to this urgent need by reframing the journey to health and wellness to be more inclusive.”

Spencer’s observation highlights a global trend: as countries get wealthier, they are not necessarily getting healthier. Obesity is a major challenge for developed economies. Plot obesity and GDP on a map, and there's a clear upward trend. Japan stands out as the only prosperous country to get richer without getting fatter.


AIA’s campaign is built on insights from AIA’s and Kantar’s Wellness Study. This study surveyed 7,000 individuals across China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and India, revealing a critical gap between the aspiration for good health and the perceived feasibility of achieving it. An astonishing 80% of respondents reported feeling unhealthy, while 57% acknowledged their struggles in making meaningful health improvements. Misconceptions are rampant, with 63% believing exercise must be intense and time-consuming to be beneficial, discouraging many from physical activity.

“We want to transform perceptions of health by illustrating that ‘healthy’ is a personalised outfit that looks different on everyone," Spencer said. "Rather than sticking to stereotypical views of intense exercise and strict diets, we encourage people to appreciate the healthy choices they’re already making in their daily lives and make more of them.”

Stuart A Spencer, AIA

AIA's goal is to broaden the conventional view of health to include not just physical fitness but also mental, financial, and environmental wellbeing.

“How can we all be physically well and mentally well if the health of the planet is in jeopardy? How can you feel emotionally healthy if you’re in deep debt with bill collectors knocking on your door? Or if you’re stressed and depressed due to work or personal circumstances? Or if your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol are out of control? We need a more multidimensional and personal appreciation for what health truly means,” Spencer explained.

This perspective is designed to resonate deeply with diverse populations across Asia. "We each have fundamentally individual ways of living, doing, thinking, and loving. We want to enable people to liberate themselves from stereotypes and realise that health is attainable. Healthy is not just about sweating in the gym at 5am; it’s also about reading a bedtime story to your child, walking your dog, or saving for a rainy day,” he added.

The campaign aims to dismantle the one-dimensional portrayal of health perpetuated by social media, which often sets unrealistic standards. Instead, AIA encourages small, consistent actions that can lead to significant improvements over time. "We want to show that every small step counts and that growing confidence will translate into even bigger actions and improvements," Spencer added.

For Spencer, health is personal and multifaceted: "Feeling loved by the people I want to be loved by, making sure they know I love them, saving constantly, exercising on weekends, recycling, and expressing gratitude at every opportunity—this is what healthy means to me."

AIA will roll out the campaign across all its markets over the next six months, adapting to local contexts. Forsman & Bodenfors Singapore developed the creative platform and anthemic film, with supporting creative by Skipper & Skipper and social-media activation by WeGlow Agency.

The campaign kicks off with an anthemic video questioning the role of social media in shaping health perceptions. This will be followed by a series of community events, employee engagement activities, and localised marketing campaigns across several Asian markets, including China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia.

Spencer highlighted the tailored approach for each market: "Each business will form its own expression of 'Rethink Healthy' in language and culturally appropriate content that will resonate most powerfully. We will have 18 different expressions with a constant thematic behind 'Rethink Healthy' and each of our businesses."

The campaign also aims to spark a broader conversation about health, encouraging social chatter and debate. "I want to trigger discourse. I want people to talk about this because I see it as a significant departure from the category conventions in our industry and how health is depicted in brand advertising, particularly in Asia," Spencer explained.

Tangible KPIs will include tracking changes in consumer attitudes and behaviours over time. The company plans to do this via comprehensive research and ongoing engagement with consumers using qualitative and quantitative methods.

The outcomes AIA aims for with ‘Rethink Healthy’ are multifaceted. The brand wants to trigger positive actions, encourage conversations, and shift perceptions. AIA's annual ESG report will report the campaign's progress, ensuring transparency and accountability.

Campaign Asia

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