Esurance: Insurance for the Modern World

You may recall auto-insurance provider Esurance’s national TV advertisments involving Erin, the animated, pink-haired spy, usually pitched in combat with other cartoon thugs, robots, aliens – all the while communicating (or trying to, at least) the various benefits of getting a quick, online quote from Esurance.

Seth Stevenson from Slate.com called one of Esurance’s older ads “The Most Confusing Ad on Television,” attributing this status to its wild setting (a football game in outer space against robots), distracting animation, and overall inability to deliver any message related to car insurance.

In 2010, Esurance partnered with the local San Francisco agency Duncan/Channon to redevelop the Esurance brand to be more modern, friendly, and approachable. The result of this partnership was new actor-portrayed TV spots featuring friendly office workers playfully bantering back and forth over a variety of insurance topics, highlighting Esurance’s convenience and touting “Technology when you want it, people when you don’t.”

On October 7th, 2011, Allstate officially completed its acquisition of the San Francisco-based auto insurance provider Esurance.

Then more recently, on December 22, 2011, Esurance launched a new integrated ad campaign around the concept “Insurance for the Modern World”.

The campaign (including television, cinema, in-flight, online video and streaming radio among other media) will debut on CBS during the 1:00 p.m. NFL game on December 24.

The campaign is the result of a new partnership with Esurance and the prominent Chicago-based advertising agency Leo Burnett (Co.).  One of the new ads will feature a John Krasinski (Jim, from The Office) voice-over narrative, which should be instantly recognized by most television viewers. It will also feature Chet Atkins’ Grammy Award-winning song, “Jam Man”.  Another ad highlights the numerous promises made by other car insurers and suggests that Esurance is better positioned to save consumers money because it was “born online, raised by technology, and majors in efficiency.”

Esurance Chief Marketing Officer John Swigart explains, “The campaign brings a fresh voice to an incredibly crowded category. We think consumers are tiring of the escalating silliness of many car insurance commercials, many of which focus solely on price”…”we deliberately chose a voice and feel that contrast with the atmosphere we’ve seen in some recent car insurance ads. We think the new campaign shows that Esurance is the ideal company for insurance ‘do-it-yourselfers’ and invites them to take a fresh look at Esurance when they next shop for car insurance.”

To me, Esurance seems to be improving their campaigns as time goes on. Erin the insurance spy was a good ploy to create an immediately-identifiable corporate icon, but it fell short in terms of coherence to the insurance industry. The actor-portrayed office skits were not really any more humorous, but the ambiance they exuded was much less frenetic, and much more approachable. Those ads also helped to establish Esurance as more than just an automated online quote service, promising the customer at least some human contact if he/she so desires. These ads were lacking innovation, however, and to me they felt as if they were produced by the same company that produced recent Progressive ads (featuring an actor portrayal of a quirky insurance peddler named “Flo”). They focused on short, witty scripts designed to make the customer feel comfortable with the (actor-portrayed) people who work at these companies, giving an industry like car insurance a more human touch.

I predict companies like Esurance will experience growth over time as more industries convert to an “a la cart” style of offering their products and services. Do-It-Yourselfers will reject the necessity of a personal insurance agent, and will look to Esurance to provide insurance without a “middleman.” Also, as the Internet plays a more instrumental role in all of our lives, I expect companies who use the capabilities of the Internet to their advantage will experience growth over companies who cannot reach the demographic of educated, Internet shoppers.

But what do you think? Is Esurance making a mistake by changing its campaigns so often? Does it make it harder for consumers to identify the brand? And now that Esurance is openly advertising the fact they are a subsidiary of Allstate, how will that affect brand image?

Only time will tell if this new campaign will convince consumers that Esurance is ready to be a major competitor like its parent company, and whether or not it will establish an image as “insurance for the modern world.”

-MCady

 

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