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…