Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 39

BY PETER KOEPPEL

New Policies Ensure Insurance TV Advertisers’ Success
CHANNEL CROSSING: DRTV
If you’ve been a football fan during the 2011-2012 season, you’re no doubt acquainted with Tebow, Harbaugh, Saban and Griffin. And you’re also most assuredly familiar with the antics of Mayhem, Flo and a little green lizard with a cockney accent, the mascots of, respectively, Allstate, Progressive and Geico insurance companies. The leading auto insurers spend billions of dollars jockeying for market share with commercials that rely mostly on humor, appeals to save money and salvos aimed at creating doubt about the competition. While one would think such commercials are effective at maintaining mind share with consumers, a poll conducted last year suggested that although consumers were familiar with the commercials, they didn’t necessarily know which company the advertisements were for. The exceptions were Geico and Progressive, which now rank numbers three and four behind State Farm and Allstate. One issue may be that behind the whimsical scenarios, the ubiquity of the underlying sales messages has turned them into white noise and sapped them of any urgency. The response from the insurance companies: spend even more. The challenge of advertising effectively in this space is further complicated by consumer complacency. As any established marketer competing in a commodity marketplace knows, it is extremely difficult to get customers to switch brands. A product such as auto insurance remains a low involvement category until disaster strikes. People are loathe to go through the hassle of switching, preferring to stay with a known or trusted service provider rather than risking the unknown, even when the latter is promising incremental savings. Hence such advertising becomes the equivalent of a business-to-business salesperson showing up at the same trade shows and cocktail parties year after year – he or she is hoping that when there is a crack in the armor – a screw up by their competitor or a re-evaluation by a prospect – that they will be considered. In the case of car insurance, research suggests that four companies will be in the mix when such re-evaluation occurs. Hence the continual drum beat of the big insurers. Yet for all of the acclaim that the likes of Geico and Progressive have gotten for their “direct” selling efforts and attendant growth, their appeals – though consistent – remain decidedly soft. With a slight adjustment to their thinking, and by embracing some of DRTV’s best practices, they could be getting significantly more leads that are attributable to specific media. For example, one easy adjustment auto insurance pitches should consider is longer length commercials. In other words, taking 15- and 30-second impressiondriven TV ads and expanding them into 60-second spots. They can still have their neurotic cavemen, walking-talking-windshield-smashing metaphors, and flirtatious label-maker wielding pitchwoman, but with the extra time they can also add something that is currently missing: concrete offers. Such offers can spur a sense of urgency that is missing amid the current landscape where taglines such as “15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance” abound. While the tagline is a neat encapsulation of Geico’s unique selling proposition, one can’t help feeling that some incentive or more tangible benefit that would entice a consumer to brand switch would help accelerate leads even further. In addition, they can augment their high-profile, impression-based ads with DRTV media that will be significantly discounted without sacrificing brand integrity. None of the current auto insurance advertising is leveraging scarcity mentality, save for the occasional sweepstakes offer. The trouble with them is that the odds of winning appear so out of reach, that as an incentive to pick up the phone and talk to an insurance agent – an act that for many is as appealing as a root canal – it is simply not compelling enough. The way that true scarcity mentality works in DRTV is simple: Tell people they might miss out on something or that they can’t have it (think home shopping), and suddenly they want it. While applying this principle to the car insurance category might seem far-fetched, this is where the fun begins – coming up with compelling offers that will drive a sense of urgency beyond vague promises of savings. The rib-tickling narratives that these advertisers prefer can bookend such offers, giving them the best of both worlds. Bottom line, it’s time auto insurance advertisers reimagine the term “claims adjustment” by turning their pitches into specific appeals for more consumer action, beyond a hearty laugh on the couch. The result will be more leads and ROI against the hundreds of millions of dollars that comprise their ad spends. Peter Koeppel is president of Koeppel Direct, a fullservice media buying agency based in Dallas. He can be reached at (972) 732-6110 or online at pkoeppel@ koeppelinc.com or twitter.com/DRTVBUYER. 39

March 2012 | electronicRETAILER



Electronic Retailer - March 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Electronic Retailer - March 2012

Chasing Shadows in Mobile Retail
Calendar of Events
Industry Reports
eMarketer Research
IMS Retail Rankings
Jordan Whitney’s Top Categories
Lockard & Wechsler’s Clearance & Price Index
Cover Story CarMD Makes a DR Diagnosis
Selling in a Fragmented World
Case Study DR Marketing North of the Border
Advertiser Index
Bulletin Board
Classifieds
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - Calendar of Events
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - cover2
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 3
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 4
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 5
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 6
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 7
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 8
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - Industry Reports
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 10
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 11
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 12
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 13
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - eMarketer Research
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 15
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - IMS Retail Rankings
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 17
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - Jordan Whitney’s Top Categories
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 19
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - Lockard & Wechsler’s Clearance & Price Index
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 21
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 22
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 23
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - Cover Story CarMD Makes a DR Diagnosis
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 25
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 26
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 27
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - Selling in a Fragmented World
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 29
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 30
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 31
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 32
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 33
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - Case Study DR Marketing North of the Border
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 35
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 36
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 37
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 38
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 39
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 40
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 41
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 42
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - Bulletin Board
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - Classifieds
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 45
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - 46
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - cover3
Electronic Retailer - March 2012 - cover4
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