Category Archives: insurance

Progressive watches your driving, Google watches your face

“Good drivers finally get the savings they deserve.” That’s how Progressive pitches Snapshot, its new optional device that goes inside your car to monitor how far you drive and how hard you brake, the idea being if you are a good driver, Progressive will use its remote watching to reduce your insurance rates.

It’s part of a trend of consumer tracking that can be both beneficial and freaky. Google (no April’s Fool joke) is working on a facial recognition mobile app that could use a photo of your mug to automatically link to your online profile, very useful at business conferences and extremely worrisome, say, to women who may not want men finding their home address after shooting their image at a bar. (Google, recognizing the privacy concerns and recently stung by its Buzz data debacle, is said to be making the app opt-in only at first.) The convergence of online personal profiles, ubiquitous cameras, location-based services, and algorithms that can convert images to data means consumer sharing may be everywhere … and consumer privacy may be a thing of the past.

Ben Kunz is vice president of strategic planning at Mediassociates, an advertising media planning and buying agency, and co-founder of its digital trading desk eEffective.

Image: Iris Shreve Garrott

Elephants (listening to those who don’t respond)

Saw this brilliant German creative for insurance carrier Allianz with the copy “Less funny, but just as heavy: 20 centimeters of snow on your roof” … and it made us think of the GOP Republicans in the United States who may not feel much like dancing on roofs today.

The blue-red split of the U.S. electoral map is a wake-up call to any marketer who typically focuses on responses and customer acquisitions. In any communication campaign, you have three types of reactions — those who say yes, those who don’t care, and those who say no. Trouble is, most marketers don’t consider the adverse impact of their communications on the people who don’t want to hear their message.

In some channels, such as direct mail, this doesn’t matter much — people will just throw the message away. But in many media consumers are interrupted to hear your message. If you use sex in advertising to stimulate a crowd, do you upset those who find the message offensive? If you pull off a radical PR stunt to build buzz, do you leave half the population thinking the brand you’re touting is silly? Worth a note in your advertising schedule: What is the potential negative impact of our communication message on our audience?

Hat tip for good creative to Atletico International.

Erin Esurance: Pink-haired superspy drives a 38% sales lift

Back in 2006 Seth Stevenson, Slate’s ad critic, said he loathed Erin Esurance. You know, the overly attractive pink-haired cartoon woman who has spawned legions of online fans and YouTube mashups. Seth even called Esurance (the company) to find out who the heck created such strange ads for an insurance product:

The woman I spoke with was Kristen Brewe—who created this campaign from scratch, continues to write all the ads, and is very proud of the whole concept. Brewe considers the ads a “labor of love” and excitedly told me about upcoming plotlines in which Erin Esurance will battle clones and global warming. Which made me feel bad about the fact that I hate her campaign.

Well, sorry Seth, but it looks like Kristen Brewe deserves a huge promotion. OMMA reports that Esurance wrote $601 million in premiums in Q3 2007, a 38% lift over the prior year, and that Esurance now ties Allstate and State Farm for brand awareness.

Brewe pitched a spicy cartoon that broke out of insurance clutter straight at men–on the web (where the Esurance site has a special tab called Erin’s world) and on TV, where ads ran on ESPN, SciFi, and Adult Swim. She may have accidentally caught an open niche, too, in the new hunger of men in their 30s for action adventure video games and Japanese anime cartoons.

Now Erin is everywhere. A hi-tech live-action/animated commercial with a brand fan is in the works. Brewe tells OMMA she now gets daily emails from design students with drawings suggesting new plots. (Be careful, parents, a search for Erin online will turn up X-rated Karma Sutra illustrations unless your Google is set to family friendly.) We even saw an Erin knockoff in Connecticut: A local Subaru dealer put up billboards with a bright-haired cartoon woman in spandex and cape. Somewhere out there, Kristen Brewe should be flattered. Even if Erin has now stooped to wearing a mini-bathrobe.

Hey. Anime works…