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JEFF PRESTRIDGE: DeadHappy life insurance advert is just plain repulsive


Persuading people to purchase life insurance shouldn’t be easy. When young, we consider we’re invincible and don’t have any need. Only once we purchase a family home and tackle a mortgage is it seriously considered – and even then, many eschew it.

This may increasingly explain why some firms are using shock tactics to get people to think about cover, which pays out a tax-free lump sum within the event of death. In isolated cases, the tactics are more sickening than shocking.

The most recent advert from DeadHappy, an internet seller of life insurance underwritten by Cheshire-based Shepherds Friendly Society, is as distasteful as they arrive.

Sick: The DeadHappy Facebook advert featuring Harold Shipman

Appearing on Facebook, it comprises an image of serial murderer Dr Harold Shipman with an accompanying strapline saying: ‘Life insurance. Since you never know who your doctor is likely to be.’

For many who have forgotten Shipman – or missed the 2002 ITV drama Harold Shipman: Doctor Death, starring James Bolam – he was convicted in January 2000 of murdering 15 elderly patients in his care. He can be suspected of being accountable for an additional 250 deaths. He committed suicide in 2004 while serving a life sentence at Wakefield Prison in Yorkshire.

DeadHappy likes to push the boundaries. Its catchline is ‘life insurance to die for’ while previous adverts have included an image of a pigeon pooping alongside the words: ‘We expect life insurance is s#*! So we redesigned it.’

However the Shipman advert is a step too far. Definitely, financial protection advisers think so.

They’ve been laying into DeadHappy via online financial publication FTAdviser – stating the advert is disrespectful to the families of those murdered by Shipman. One relative of a victim took to social media to say to DeadHappy: ‘Your latest advert utilising his image is despicable and unacceptable.’ The advert can be defamatory of the medical occupation.

Shepherds Friendly Society is not impressed either. It told me: ‘We’ve expressed our view to DeadHappy that the advert distributed on social media featuring Harold Shipman was distasteful and inappropriate.

‘We’re committed to our values and this doesn’t align with them. We asked DeadHappy to remove the advert immediately and are currently investigating this matter further.’ On Wednesday, I asked Alan Knott, founding father of DeadHappy, whether the advert could be withdrawn – he avoided the query.

But he did say: ‘We’re aware of the provocative (and to some the very shocking) nature of our brand. But being provocative is different to being offensive and it’s after all never our intention to offend or upset people.

‘It’s our intention to make people stop and think.’

On Friday, Knott softened his stance and admitted that the Shipman advert was out of order. He said: ‘We’ve made a mistake. We are going to now go away and immediately review all of our current and future marketing campaigns.’

Some people have already reported the advert to the Promoting Standards Authority (ASA), an organisation that knows DeadHappy quite well. In 2019, it banned its advert of a person leaning his head against a wall with the strapline (again): ‘Life insurance to die for.’

The ASA concluded the advert trivialised suicide.

If you ought to complain concerning the Shipman advert, contact asa.org.uk/make-a-complaint.

The charities that deserve a ringing endorsement

On the ropes: Bell-ringer Tim Lowe says charities need more financial support

On the ropes: Bell-ringer Tim Lowe says charities need more financial support

The bell-ringers of St Thomas’ Church in Mellor, Lancashire, are a spirited bunch. Over time, they’ve raised quite a lot of money for charities – big ones reminiscent of Cancer Research UK and Prostate Cancer UK – in addition to local charities reminiscent of St Ann’s Hospice in Cheadle.

In seven days’ time, the five-strong team of campanologists will rejoice the feast of St Agatha (patron saint of bell founders and breast cancer patients) by encouraging locals to climb as much as the belfry and ring Old Paddy, a three-quarter ton bell.

For a donation small or large, locals may also get a taste of bell-ringers’ soup, which incorporates a drop of whisky.

Those that fancy a try at bell-ringing can go along from 11.30am. Tim Lowe, a part of the bell-ringing team, initially contacted me concerning the rising cost of his home cover, but was also keen to speak concerning the proven fact that many cancer charities are in desperate need of monetary support.

So, should you cannot stand up to Mellor, consider donating to the charities directly – just mention ‘Festivals of Bells’ – and should you’re a taxpayer remember to spice up your donation with Gift Aid.

Tim says they’ve great bell-ringing plans for Coronation Day (May 6). He has also persuaded me to pay them a visit at some stage and ring away.

That is one other item almost ticked off my bucket list.

NS&I listens and lifts its rate AGAIN

First, the excellent news. Government-backed savings giant NS&I has listened to the readers of this column (again) – and for a second time in as many months pushed up the prize rate on Premium Bonds.

The bad news? Well, the rise shouldn’t be as generous correctly.

The effective annual rate of interest is rising next month from three to three.15 per cent – below the three.5 per cent we collectively called for.

Boost: Government-backed savings giant NS&I has listened to the readers of this column (again)

Boost: Government-backed savings giant NS&I has listened to the readers of this column (again)

But as my dear mother Helen would say after I got a second-hand Motion Man for Christmas – quite than a brand new one – beggars cannot be choosers.

The upper prize rate might be in situ when the February draw takes place on Wednesday.

It would mean more winners in all prize categories bar £1 million (two winners per thirty days) and £25. Although the Bank base rate should jump a day later from 3.5 per cent to 4 per cent – making some best-buy savings accounts relatively more attractive – I might persist with your Premium Bonds.

They supply a little bit of fun in a world where fun is in brief supply.

As NS&I chief executive Ian Ackerley said just a few days ago, the prize rate is at its highest level in greater than 14 years when, between May and November 2008, it stood at 3.4 per cent.

For those with Premium Bonds of their portfolio, good luck for Wednesday. I trust you get a message from NS&I stating you might be a winner (I’m keeping my fingers crossed).    

Bumper win

Last week, I invited readers to let me know in the event that they had ever won greater than nine Premium Bond prizes in a single month. This followed a challenge from Norwich-based Paul Parsons who revealed he and his wife Patricia had once won nine prizes between them.

Numerous you got here forward (thanks) to say you had trumped the Parsons, however the ‘winners’ were Neil and Helen Hyde, from Worthing in West Sussex.

Neil, a 50-year-old estate agent, and Helen, a part-time school assistant, scooped 13 prizes last September, totalling £425.

Conversely, Jenny Norman, from near Ipswich in Suffolk, hasn’t won a penny for 3 months – despite having the utmost holding of £50,000.

Husband Ray, a 75-year-old antiques dealer, has promised to let me know if Jenny’s fortunes change for the higher on Wednesday.

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