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Scottish Widows’ 200: Connecting Company History to a Modern Brand

Release Date: 24 August 2017

This is an excerpt from an article published in Issue 42 of Broadsheet, which is available to download.

Scottish Widows is Scotland’s oldest life assurance company. It is also one of the most recognised brands in the UK. Since the launch of the first TV ad featuring ‘the Widow’ in the 1980s, it has been a household name.

In 2015, Scottish Widows was reaching a significant milestone: its 200th anniversary. A year earlier the brand had undergone a major relaunch. Amber Martinez had been appointed as the new face of the Widow, and a new advertising campaign launched, with the strapline ‘Life feels better when you have a plan’. Featuring people from many walks of life, it aimed to show how planning their financial futures, was helping them make the most of today. The business wanted to align their upcoming anniversary with the brand refresh, and also the wider ‘Helping Britain Prosper’ strategy of Scottish Widows’ parent company, Lloyds Banking Group.

Early on in the preparations for the anniversary, it was proposed that one of the core events would be an exhibition, aimed at staff and business intermediaries. But rather than simply retelling the company’s history as a conventional chronology, the exhibition would seek to relay the story of Scottish Widows through the stories of some of its past customers – not the well known names, such as Sir Walter Scott (who took out a policy in 1824); but some of the millions of ordinary people that Scottish Widows has provided for in days gone by.

Group Archives were asked to research potential subjects from sources in the archive. The brief was to provide information on a range of individuals, across time, social background and geography.

Sian Yates, Senior Archivist, Lloyds Banking Group


Find out more about the stories uncovered and the final exhibition in our current issue of Broadsheet.


Picture: The first emblem of Scottish Widows shows a widow with children and figure of Plenty.