Advertisers usually want to have the funniest spot — think the Geico Cavemen — but might it pay to be the stick in the mud?
A Pennsylvania-based insurance company’s new campaign takes a crack at the increasing number of funny insurance commercials.
Erie Insurance has been running ads all over Richmond that take aim at the Geico gecko, the Aflac duck, Flo, the Progressive spokeswoman, and Allstate’s mayhem guy.
The company’s newest ad promises: “They give you funny advertising. We give you great insurance.” A guy in a Groucho Marx getup drives the point home.
A promotional website reads, “It’s nice to have a good laugh now and then. But really … shouldn’t billions of dollars in humorous insurance ads be put to better use? We think so.”
Erie is running ads in the newspaper and has billboards across town.
Megan Eustin, public relations manager for Erie Insurance, wouldn’t say which agency the company hired for the campaign.
Dean Jarrett, spokesperson for the Martin Agency, which produces the Geico ads and more or less invented the strategy of using humor to create brand awareness in insurance, said that they’re aware of the advertisement.
“We always monitor what’s going on in the marketplace, but we don’t let it distract us from our own plans,” he said.
Jarrett said that Geico has been a client of the Martin Agency for 17 years and that the insurer has grown from the seventh largest insurer to the third largest, right behind Allstate and State Farm.
Erie Insurance says on its site that it’s the 13th largest automobile and homeowner insurer in the United States and the 19th largest property/casualty insurer.
Jarrett added that since Martin introduced the gecko in 1999, other insurance companies have followed suit with comical commercials.
“When you’re doing successful campaigns, it’s not uncommon for you to be a target for competitors,” he said. “If a company spends their ad dollars talking about our advertising rather than what they’re doing, I’d consider that the ultimate compliment for us.”
Insurance companies are shelling out more and more on to keep up with the competition.
A July 2011 article from the New York Times said Geico spent $745.2 million to advertise last year.
In a June 2010 report, Advertising Age magazine released a breakdown of the top 100 advertisers for 2009. Allstate spent $390 million in advertising. Geico spent $612 million, Progressive spent $517 million, and State Farm spent $550 million.
A few of BizSense’s favorite funny insurance ads: