Health insurer Humana and life insurer MassMutual launched game apps for the iPhone in late June directed at building brand recognition. Both insurers tapped external developers to create applications that combine entertainment and education about insurance products.
Humana’s Colorfall game is the first iPhone game in its Humana Games for Health initiative, which the company kicked off in 2007. This is the first marketing effort the company has undertaken on the iPhone; it already offers urgent care and doctor finders, as well as account servicing capabilities, via mobile.
“We find entertainment such as games is very relevant to consumers today,” says Paul Puopolo, director of consumer innovation at Louisville, Ken.-based Humana ($14.2 million in assets). “Mobile is a platform we want to leverage, and obviously the iPhone is a great new technology that is becoming more and more pervasive.”
The company, however, views the iPhone as part of a multichannel approach to consumer engagement. Traditional online marketing, as well as social media, area all part of its wider strategy, Puopolo says.
“Not everything can be done in an iPhone app,” he explains. “We are always going to have an online component to our games. You’ve gotta have something mobile, but also an anchor online.”
Humana hopes to raise its profile among prospective customers with Colorfall, in which players must arrange cascading colored tokens in the order of the colors of the rainbow. The insurer worked with game design shop Persuasive Games on it.
“We’re in a space where you need game developer talent, but also the health experience,” Puopolo continues. “We’re not going to be building a game development shop [internally], but you can partner with forward-thinking developers and companies who want to be in this space.”
Springfield, Mass.-based MassMutual’s Save! The Game also extends a current company initiative to the iPhone. Its Right on the Money program includes online activities that teach kids about saving and budgeting. In the game, kids are led through fantasy world where they collect virtual money while trying to avoid impulse items like candy, soda and toys.
The company believes that parents screening games for their younger children will select this game due to its educational content.
“More parents are downloading games for their kids on their device and sharing them,” notes Marie Politis, assistant vice president for online experience at MassMutual ($133 million in assets). “It’s more targeted toward the iPod Touch, because kids have that more at their disposal. My daughter doesn’t have her own iPod, but downloads stuff to my husband’s constantly.”
Like Humana, MassMutual also worked with external firms to develop the game: Mullen, its ad agency; and Aurnhammer, a company specializing in mobile game development. However, unlike Humana, this is its first exploration of the mobile channel.
“We have an emerging tech practice that’s very engaged in defining what our mobility strategy is,” Politis says. “We’re figuring out of all the Web applications we have for our customers and field force, which ones should be mobile-enabled, whether it’s an app or some sort of mobile-enabled Web site.”
MassMutual’s game is free, while Humana’s costs $2.99 to download. Across all of its divisions, the company is looking towards “health entertainment” as a growth area, Humana’s Puopolo notes.
“Within the mobile strategy we have everyone represented: IT, operations, marketing and innovation,” he says. “Our job is to innovate around new products services and technologies for the company — help us lower the cost trend or engage people differently than just the health insurance side.”