Chapter 7 Case Study
Integrated Marketing Communication
auto insurance: mixing media and messages
In 2009, over 136 million cars were being driven in the United States. Over 240 million total vehicles on the roads. Each one requires some form of insurance to protect the driver, other drivers, and the vehicle itself. The massive marketplace for auto insurance that results has induced a great number of companies to try to gain a share of the market.
Two major auto insurance providers include GEICO and Allstate. Both feature well-recognized advertising campaigns. The approaches used by these companies are quite different.
GEICO has developed two major continuing themes along with streams of other types. The first major theme features the GEICO Gecko, with an Australian accent, that has a major following among viewers. In 2010, many of the advertisements were interactions between the Gecko and a company executive. The ads use mild humor to note that GEICO, featuring the tagline, “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.”
The second major approach utilizes the GEICO “Caveman,” a series of commercials that also use humor. Each notes the GEICO is so simple that “even a caveman” can see the advantages of the company. The theme has been tied to many campaigns, including one as sponsor of NHL hockey. Actor Ben Wilson has played the primary caveman role over a series of years.
Other GEICO approaches have included celebrities making parodies of themselves. Included in these commercials were Little Richard, Joan Rivers, James Lipton, and Peter Frampton. Recently, a new campaign begins with spokesperson Mike McGlone, who has a highly distinctive voice, asking, “Could switching to GEICO really save you 15% or more on car insurance? Does Charlie Daniels play a mean fiddle?” Other similar rhetorical questions are posed about other situations regarding Elmer Fudd, and “Does a 10 pound bag of flour make a really big biscuit?”
In contrast, Allstate employs the same spokesperson, actor Dennis Haysbert, as its spokesperson. Instead of changing the humor and theme, Allstate presents a new aspect of the company’s insurance in each campaign. One campaign notes that the company has a “first accident forgiveness” policy which does not penalize drives for being involved in a fender bender.
Another campaign reminds car owners that Allstate gives discounts to good drivers. Allstate shrinks the deductible for each year that a driver goes without an accident. In a new campaign, a safe driver bonus was offered, in which the price of renewing Allstate insurance goes down every six months without an accident.
Following the 2009 recession, the “Back to Basics” campaign notes that Allstate opened during the Great Depression and has survived 12 recessions. Haysbert states, “Protect the good things. Put them in good hands.” Another states that this could be “The recession that made us great.”
Both GEICO and Allstate campaigns are supported by other media, including billboards, print, and others. Both companies spend a great deal of money developing high quality, memorable advertisements. Both have large numbers of policy holders.
Answer the following questions:
1. Which approach do you believe is the most effective at creating intrusion value? Which approach is best at creating brand recognition and recall? Brand loyalty?
2. Why does GEICO use a humor approach? Why does Allstate use a more serious approach?
3. Which support media work best for these two companies? Which would be less valuable?
4. When purchasing insurance, which is more important, effective reach or effective frequency? Why?