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Barbados Uncensored

Beyond the News, Inside the Issues

NIS Must Step Away From Its Tagline

Nov 20, 2021

“More than a contribution…it’s your lifeline”. So goes the tagline of the National Insurance Office (NIS).  Sounds good but it is the contention of Barbados Uncensored that the NIS needs to step back from this tagline. We explain why.

For those familiar with Marketing, a slogan or tagline is a very important element, not only of its advertising, but if the positioning of the organization.

In marketing we distinguish between two types of slogans: organizational slogans (also called taglines) and product slogans.  Interested readers can read the distinction between the two here

An organizational slogan or tagline summarizes what the organization is about and is more or less a summary of the mission of the organization. 

Point of Departure

Since the NIS makes no real distinction between the marketing of its products/services, the slogan to all intents and purposes, is an organizational slogan or tagline meaning that it is a statement of the positioning of the entire organization regarding all of them.

But taglines not only summarize the purpose of the organization, they operate at a much more specific and deeper level of marketing.  Taglines are part of the branding of the organization. According to Entrepreneur:

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services.

A tagline is also a more or less permanent form of advertising; it is always there on the organizations website, its stationery, emails etc. 

But the real power of taglines is in the imagery they call forth. Marketers who study consumer behaviour now know that imagery and emotive associations  are much more powerful persuaders than the words in the ad (the copy)  itself.

NIS Promise

The promise of the NIS is very strong; it pledges to be the lifeline of those who contribute to it.  The term “lifeline” is a very strong word itself.  It conjures up the image of someone drowning and being thrown a rope (the lifeline) to which the individual can hold on for dear life.

Commonsense suggests that a lifeline of is no use unless it is thrown out in a timely manner.  There is no point in waiting until the hapless individual comes up for his last gurgle to throw out the lifeline! 

Even if the NIS did not intend for this interpretation to be placed on its tagline, that is what the average man or woman will think. It would have been better for the NIS not to engage such a tagline if it had no intention of living up to it.

But if course, we know the real reason why they have done so: it is to persuade individuals and companies to pay in their contributions. 

Any thought of PAYING OUT contributions when due must obviously have been non-existent or very low down on their totem pole of priorities.  That is quite clear from their performance to date and the myriad of complaints made about the untimeliness of their payouts.

Service Promise

Regardless to whether the they understand what they are doing or not, the NIS has by implication stated to the public the latest time they are willing to throw out that lifeline. Take a look at the Contributory Pension Form.

Note the harsh impositions made on the claimant regarding completion of the form, requirement to explain why the claim was submitted late and the possibility of loss of  benefits. 

Take particular note of the line that states that the claim must be submitted 3 months before the claimant reaches pensionable age. What that means is that if the applicant wants to have his or her pension when the pensionable age rolls around, he or she must submit a claim three months in advance.

This stipulation also implies to any thinking person that the NIS “needs” 90 days to process your claim. You can, therefore, understand why claimants are justifiably annoyed when the NIS, without any good reason, delays payments well beyond this 90 day promise.

In one case we are aware of, the client’s application is now six months overdue beyond the 3-month stipulation. Another complainant reported having to engage with NIS 16 times before receiving his pension.  By no stretch of the imagination can this tardiness be consistent with a “lifeline”!

We previously reported on this state of affairs here.  You will note from that report that the organization is also very sloppy with regard to the security of documents submitted online.  This does not engender confidence at all.

As we said earlier, a tagline is essentially permanent advertising.  There is such a thing as truthfulness in advertising therefore, the NIS should consider its exposure to legal action from this perspective.

Political Directorate to Blame 

Full blame for this lack of customer service must be placed in the laps of the government of the day and those of the past  The current administration has a bloated cabinet of 17 ministers each of whom receives $17,000 per month but most of whom appear to be underemployed.

It is sign of bad management that not one of these 17 ministers has been assigned to deal with the customer service policy interface of government departments and general customer service efficiency. 

The idea that the civil service (CS) is some independent body is only partly true.  It is quite clear that the CS is the primary agency for carrying out the policies of the government of the day.  While there should be no political interference in the accepted technical procedures and decision-making, the CS cannot be left to be an army of occupation either as the late EWB described it. 

The truth of the matter is that too much of the Civil Service does not understand what it is to be civil or give service.  

So the current state of play in agencies such as the NIS shows the low level of priority assigned to dealing with concerns of ordinary people. This is not surprising considering that the head of the cabinet expends so much time ranting about climate change and other bogus global issues.  


Until the NIS can guarantee that it will live up to its tagline it should cease and desist from using it. In the meantime we are issuing them another public customer disservice award.

By Editor

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