Call it the modern day cola wars. The competitive battles between auto insurance companies over the $170 billion industry have been fiercer than the 1980’s Coca-Cola versus Pepsi throw down. To help capture a larger piece of the pie these companies have been significantly increasing their advertising budget over the past 5 years. The industry as a whole is now spending nearly $6 billion per year on advertising, up almost 50% since 2009 when the industry was spending $4billion, according to Advertising Age magazine. Today Geico alone is spending nearly $1 billion. And recently the USA Today reported that Geico, Progressive, State Farm and Allstate are now in the top 20 of national advertisers, beating out big brands such as Budweiser, Coke and Home Depot.
You probably have noticed the increase of advertisements. They’re everywhere; TV, radio, billboards, and magazines. In fact, Farmers Insurance now has the naming rights to the planned Farmers Field in Los Angeles, home of a future NFL team. So you can rest assured that Progressive’s Flo and her friend Flobot will be haunting us in our dreams sometime soon. The barrage of advertisements from the insurance industry reminds me of the early ‘90’s when the 1-800 telephone collect call market was dominating TV.
So while Geico is the largest advertiser is their current advertising campaign the best? Let’s breakdown the current campaigns and decide who is the real winner in the insurance company ad game.
#9. The General– n/a
The General Campaign
A discount of a discount company. Poor graphics and a weird looking General. Not sure how many have switched over to this carrier. They do receive bonus points for the penguin in the ads.
#8. Nationwide – $277m*
I am on Your Side Campaign
Interesting approach. Not sure it’s the most effective. Go back to the drawing board, as I am bored with this campaign.
#7. Liberty Mutual – $332.5m
Simply a copycat campaign. It feels as if Liberty Mutual is advertising the humor of insurance companies only because many of their competitors are doing the same. Had Liberty Mutual’s campaign been dropped first, it would receive much more love. I do like the incorporation of the Odd Couple theme song, but I find that Billy Joel’s “Your Only Human” would have been a much better approach.
#6. Geico – $993.8m
Happier Than Campaign
I guess when your spending this amount of money it is easy to have an occasional dud. That’s exactly what Geico has in this campaign with the mandolin strollin’ fellows talking about happiness. And I didn’t even highlight that annoying “WEE” pig. Perhaps Geico should take their campaign back to the Stone age and bring back the Cavemen or just add a little more gecko to the mix.
#5. Esurance – n/a
Insurance for the Modern World Campaign
A great choice to have the Office’s John Krasinsk narrate the commercials. I find this campaign to be more effective than the previous cartoon hero. Once Allstate acquired Esurance it seems as if they added a bit more professionalism into the ads.
#4. Farmers – $464.2m
University of Farmers Campaign
An imitator of Allstate’s Mayhem campaign, Farmers U of F campaign is none the less still witty. The professor is played by character actor J.K. Simmons, who also played the newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson of the Spiderman trilogy.
#3. Allstate – $745.3m
This is a very clever campaign that is spawning many imitators. The Mayhem man was introduced a few years back and does a great job highlighting the Allstate product versus the discount agencies.
#2. State Farm – $813.5m
Discount Double Check Campaign
I find this campaign to be extremely funny and does a great job incorporating the Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers into the campaign. My personal favorite highlights the Packers B.J. Raji.
#1. Progressive – $536.1m
Progressive does the best job highlighting their product offering. Whether it’s for Snapshot, online tools or competitive price checking. Progressive’s Flo adds the comic relief but the message remains clear on most of the campaign’s ads.
So while it’s not a clear run-away, Progressive does the best job highlighting their competitive advantage and as so they slip into the number one insurance campaign.
*Figures from Property & Casual 360, 2011 YE