My Opinion: Too Much Insurance Advertising Confuses the Consumer


I probably have much bigger things to worry about in my life given that I have four teenagers that my wife and I are responsible for raising but I cannot stop thinking about auto insurance ads.  A sad state, I know.

Now are Flo and the  Mayhem guy married and is the Caveman their son who has a pet gecko?  And what’s with that duck?  To me it is very confusing and not in the best interest of consumers.  Business 101 tells you that the more you spend on advertising, the less you can spend on other line items of your budget.  Things like customer service, lower rates, etc.

Flo's husband?

Flo’s husband?

Isn’t it natural to think that if auto insurance companies are spending billions on advertising that what you pay for that insurance, the service you get after an accident or that claim processing might be affected?

According to Advertising Age, “Car insurance — a $161 billion industry obsessed with risk protection — is anything but conservative when it comes to marketing these days. The top players are doling out the dollars once reserved for categories like beer and travel, pouring impressively lavish budgets into funding splashy campaigns, partnerships with celebrities and rock bands, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.   Insurers seem to be slapping their names everywhere. Farmers just agreed to shell out $700 million over 30 years to put its name on a planned NFL stadium in Los Angeles. And the city doesn’t even have a team yet.”

The graphic above clearly shows what everyone in marketing is already aware of – you need to create awareness of yr product to get into the purchasers consideration set before they will buy.  The aided and unaided numbers for Allstate, GEICO and State Farm are impressive but look at the overall category spending!

This post was prompted by a discussion we were having in IMC 614, Media Analysis, on the attributes of a reach vs. frequency campaign.  I believe that insurance companies are going after both at the detriment of the consumer.  Not because what they are selling is bad – insurance is a good thing to have for everyone – but because some of the efforts are confusing to the consumer and they are not sure who they are buying.  There is not enough consistency in the messages we see for all these companies.  Frankly, some of the ads are trying to be too clever at the detriment of the message.

The Caveman's pet?

The Caveman’s pet?

Case in point, Geico, at one point was running the caveman ads, the gecko ads and the ads with the two guys singing.  Their argument is that they wanted to stand out and appeal to everyone.  I get that but I have never been ad advocate of this scatter-shot approach.  IMHO, there is too much insurance advertising on TV for any one player to truly standout with this approach.  It becomes white noise that doesn’t stick.  But realizing this blog is not going to change anything, I would advocate for Allstate’s “Mayhem” campaign.  I think the value of this campaign to the consumer is its consistency.  They have evolved from the Dennis Haysbert spots to “Mayhem”.  One character, consistent message,  multiple spots that appeal across many demographics.  They are entertaining and there are enough versions that I don’t seem to mind when I see one on TV.

At the end of the day, there are many arguments for each approach and there probably isn’t one right answer for an industry that spends $4B on advertising annually but it is something to think about.

Til next time!

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3 Responses to “My Opinion: Too Much Insurance Advertising Confuses the Consumer”

  1. stevejaws Says:

    Reblogged this on The Marketing Cove.

  2. Says:

    Great blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a
    paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m
    completely confused .. Any suggestions? Kudos!

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