Here’s a crazy, crazy piece from USA Today on the insurance industry’s use of zany mascots in their advertising campaigns. While we all know that insurance companies run multiple, concurrent campaigns, mostly based on humor, what seems to be news is that these campaigns are not effective at selling policies. That’s right…not effective at selling. According to the president of an insurance trade group, only 1 in 10 drivers switch insurance policies, a stat which has remained stable for the past decade. Let’s put that in context. From the article:
- Since 2007, there’s been a 60% increase in auto insurance ad spending
- Four out of the country’s 20 most-advertised brands are insurance agencies
- Geico, Progressive, State Farm, and Allstate each spend more ad money than marketing giant Coca-cola
If they’re not convincing people to switch providers, that means that insurance companies are basically spending tons of money to try to win CLIO awards.
Of course, the explanation for all this investment is “brand identity,” to separate a company from its competitors and create pleasant associations for consumers.
Brand identity is certainly vital for a company. I think the only reason I eat at McDonald’s and drink Coca-Cola is because of nostalgia over their identity, which has been consistently agreeable throughout my life (except for Coke that one time in the 80s). Still, I’m not sure how much a cave man or a self-proclaimed World’s Greatest Spokesperson impacts my feelings around a brand that should be focused directly on price and service. I mean, I’m a responsible adult looking to prepare for the possibility of expensive and life-impacting accidents, not a kid picking a breakfast cereal based on the animal on the front of the box.
And besides, the end game of brand identity is still sales. A great brand identity that doesn’t increase sales is not a great brand identity.
Then again, maybe all that ad investment is future-facing. Give a kid enough nostalgia for a British lizard, and maybe he’s a customer for life.
Mayhem is still cool, naturally.