My uncle works in insurance. I recently mentioned that I'm planning to sign up for cryonics.
"That's amazing," he said. "Convincing a young person to buy life insurance? That has to be the greatest scam ever."
I took the comment lightly, not caring to argue about it. But it got me thinking - couldn't cryonics be a great opportunity for insurance companies to make a bunch of money?
- Were there a much stronger demand for cryonics, cryonics organizations would flourish through competition, outside investment, and internal reinvestment. Costs would likely fall, and this would be good for cryonicists in general.
- If cryonics organizations flourish, this increases the probability of cryonics working. I can think of a bunch of ways in which this could happen; perhaps, for example, it would encourage the creation of safety nets whereby the failure of individual companies doesn't result in anyone getting thawed. It would increase R&D on both perfusion and revivification, encourage entrepreneurs to explore new related business models, etcetera.
- Increasing the demand for cryonics increases the demand for life insurance policies; thus insurance companies have a strong incentive to increase the demand for cryonics. Many large insurance companies would like nothing more than to usher in a generation of young people that want to buy life insurance.1
- The demand for cryonics could be increased by an insightful marketing campaign by an excellent marketing agency with an enormous budget... like those used by big insurance companies.2 A quick Googling says that ad spending by insurance companies exceeded $4.15 billion in 2009.
Almost a year ago, Strange7 suggested that cryonics organizations could run this kind of marketing campaign. I think he's wrong - there's no way CI or Alcor have the money. But the biggest insurance companies do have the money, and I'd be shocked if these companies or their agencies aren't already dumping all kinds of money into market research.
What would doing this require?
- That an open-minded person in the insurance industry who is in the position to direct this kind of funding exists. I don't have a sense of how likely this is.
- That we can locate/get an audience with the person from step 1. I think research and networking could get this done, especially if the higher-status among us are interested.
- That we can find someone who is capable and willing to explain this clearly and convincingly to the person from step 1. I'm not sure it would be that difficult. In the startup world, strangers convince strangers to speculatively spend millions of dollars every week. Hell, I'll do it.
I want to live in a world where cryonics ads air on TV just as often as ads for everything else people spend money on. I really can see an insurance company owning this project - if they can a) successfully revamp the image of cryonics and b) become known as the household name for it when the market gets big, they will make lots of money.
What do you think? Where has my reasoning failed? Does anyone here know anyone powerful in insurance?
Lastly, taking a cue from ciphergoth: this is not the place to rehash all the old arguments about cryonics. I'm asking about a very specific idea about marketing and life insurance, not requesting commentary on cryonics itself. Thanks!
1 Perhaps modeling the potential size of the market would offer insight here. If it turns out that this idea is not insane, I'll find a way to make it happen. I could use your help.
2 Consider what happened with diamonds in the 1900s:
... N. W. Ayer suggested that through a well-orchestrated advertising and public-relations campaign it could have a significant impact on the "social attitudes of the public at large and thereby channel American spending toward larger and more expensive diamonds instead of "competitive luxuries." Specifically, the Ayer study stressed the need to strengthen the association in the public's mind of diamonds with romance. Since "young men buy over 90% of all engagement rings" it would be crucial to inculcate in them the idea that diamonds were a gift of love: the larger and finer the diamond, the greater the expression of love. Similarly, young women had to be encouraged to view diamonds as an integral part of any romantic courtship.