The Rationale Behind Esurance’s Ad Campaign, Available to Publications from Mediabids

If you are publication running an Esurance ad from Mediabids’ Per-Inquiry program, you will probably find this article on the company’s changing advertising focus interesting. 

 From the New York Times, full story here

In New Campaign, Esurance Equates Trust With Efficiency

IN an advertising world where lizards and bubbly sales representatives extol the virtues of automobile insurance, one company has decided on a more pared down approach.

An Esurance commercial suggests there is more to insurance than saving money.

Esurance has started a new ad campaign, “Insurance for the Modern
World,” with an emphasis on trust and savings. Gone is Erin, the
pink-haired, animated character of prior ad campaigns.
In her place is a commercial that asks viewers, “What makes you trust a
car insurance company? A talking animal? A talking character?” The
actor John Krasinski of NBC’s “The Office” narrates the spots to a
soundtrack featuring “Jam Man” by Chet Atkins.

John Swigart, chief marketing officer of Esurance, said the company was
aiming at “insurance do-it-yourselfers” who already were doing things
like banking and shopping online. The campaign’s ideal target, he added,
is middle class families and professionals ages 25 to 49. “They manage
their lives for maximum efficiency,” he said.

Geico is a direct target in the spot on savings, which starts out by
showing dollar bills in places like drawers, in a pile of leaves and in a
washing machine. The voiceover begins, “If you had a dollar for every
dollar car insurance companies say they’ll save you by switching, you’d
have, like, a ton of dollars.” But, it asks, “How are they saving you
those dollars?”

The Allstate
Company acquired Esurance and Answer Financial for about $700 million
earlier this year from the White Mountains Insurance Group. Esurance
later chose Leo Burnett, Chicago, part of the Publicis Groupe, as its
new advertising agency of record. Esurance had previously worked with
Duncan/Channon, San Francisco. Leo Burnett also handles advertising for

The difference with the new parent company is clear. Allstate is a
“brand with consumers who prefer to work with an agent,” while Esurance
is not, Mr. Swigart said. A company representative said in an e-mail
that though many of Esurance’s customers looked to the Internet to buy
their insurance, the company still had “just over 1,000 employees in
claims and customer service” for those who wanted to talk to a real

While previous ad campaigns for Esurance highlighted “Technology when
you want it, people when you don’t,” the new campaign is focused on the

At the top of the company’s Facebook page is a box that reads “Keepin’
it real. Real customers. Real Comments. (Really.)” So real are the
comments, that of three that were posted at the top of the page on
Tuesday morning, two were complaints.

One was from a user saying that Esurance had prebilled his debit card
$400 without permission. Another user called the company a “blight on
humanity.” Both comments were followed by answers from Esurance customer
service representatives offering the disgruntled users an e-mail
address where they could have their complaints addressed.

Mr. Swigart said the most recent ad campaign, by Duncan/Channon, did “a
reasonable job of keeping us on the map, but it wasn’t really moving us
forward in terms of the direction we wanted to go in.” The Duncan
campaign was an attempt to appeal to women and featured customer service
representatives interacting with customers. Glimpses of the animated
Erin character could be seen on computer screens and on knick-knacks
throughout the office.

Susan Credle, the chief creative officer for the United States at Leo
Burnett, said that ads for Esurance’s major competitors like Geico and
Progressive had shifted from “coverage and making sure you’re insured to
simply a price conversation and making sure what you were getting was
the cheapest.” Leo Burnett is also the agency behind the popular “Mayhem” campaign
for Allstate, which features the actor Dean Winters as the
personification of different insurance disasters, and the “That’s Our
Stand” campaign featuring Dennis Haysbert. “If ‘Mayhem’ is about value,
we need to shift the perception of Esurance from being a cheap insurance
company to being a smart insurance company,” Ms. Credle said. Esurance
also is seeking to draw attention to its updated mobile phone
application, which will not be directly featured in the new campaign,
but will be rolled out simultaneously. As of mid-December, 22 percent of
Esurance’s 525,000 customers had downloaded the current version of the
app. The updated app will allow users to submit information about a car
accident, including vehicle information, a description of the accident
and up to four photos, directly from their phones.

The new ad campaign will begin appearing Saturday on CBS during the
National Football League games, and will be available on Esurance’s
Facebook page. Starting on Monday, television ads will be seen on
approximately 45 cable networks including ESPN, HGTV, TNT and USA,
during syndicated programs like “Big Bang Theory” and “Family Guy.”
Digital video preroll ads will run on the Web sites for AOL, CNN,
Google, YouTube and Yahoo.

Mr. Swigart would not disclose the cost of the campaign, other than to
say the company would spend a “substantial increase” over 2011.
According to the Kantar Media unit of WPP, the company spent $116.9
million on advertising in 2010 and $79 million from January to September

Allstate spent $405 million in 2010 and $376.4 million from January to September 2011, according to Kantar Media.


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