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Blog 1: Open Space

Updated on October 5, 2017
Could car insurance ads possibly wind up not remaining awful?
Could car insurance ads possibly wind up not remaining awful? | Source

15 minutes know the rest

Advertising, as we’ve discussed in class, is all about understanding your brand’s segmentation, and ensuring that ads seem believable and appealing to the segment you’re after. Today, the sector I’ll be examining is car insurance.

Take Geico for instance. The company uses multiple campaigns, most of which appeal to the consumer’s sense of humor rather than actually talking about car insurance. Geico positions itself as a budget brand, and most of the jokes have to do the money a consumer will save by switching to the company’s coverage. Besides the famous Gecko, the brand’s most notable spokes-creature, the brand also runs a number of offshoot campaigns, most of them humorous. One memorable example was the “I’ve got good news” campaign, the “rhetorical question guy”, who would directly address the audience with silly comparisons, as well the (in)famous Cavemen, who spawned a sitcom. My guess about Geico’s insight is that it knows its main customers, in the market for budget-friendly car insurance, are more likely to respond to humor than direct appeals because they don’t really care or think much about insurance. These ads are not necessarily for people who want to ensure their Bently, but people who are bored by auto-insurance likely develop an appreciation for these ads.

Nationwide takes a different approach; its focus is on positioning itself as the “friendly” option, with most of its ads featuring a Nationwide agent helping someone. The recurring tagline “Nationwide is On Your Side” is meant to defuse the typical tension that people feel towards insurance companies as being “out to get people”. As such, one of the new campaigns for the company features country superstar Brad Paisley (a famously disarming celebrity) singing about the “many sides of life”, and reminding customers, that indeed “Nationwide is on Your Side”. I would guess that the insight behind these ads is that Nationwide is supposed to be a company that you trust, and thus, they picked a country music start to sing about how the company is “On Your Side”

An interesting blend of these two strategies is found in the advertising of State Farm, which combines the personal service focus of Nationwide with the humor typically associated with Geico’s ads. One of State Farm’s most successful campaigns to date involved portraying SF agents as genies, who appear in the midst of comically dangerous situations, such as a car being charged by a herd of Buffalo. By blending audience-pleasing humor with undertones of commitment to service, State Farm creates a niche for itself between its two rivals, and capitalizing on those who don’t want to be bored by a commercial but also want substance to back up claims.

Open space exists in the industry for a brand to position itself as a comical educator on car insurance. I know almost nothing about car insurance, but if a company would help me understand it better while entertaining me, (maybe with some sort of Schoolhouse Rock-style video) I would appreciate that brand immensely.


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