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Monday, December 2, 2013




“GEICO:  Fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more.”


 “So get Allstate.  You could save money and be better protected from mayhem.”


 “The Discount Double-Check—we comb through your policies to make sure you’re getting all the discounts you deserve.”  (State Farm)


It may not be very popular to talk about insurance these days, at least not about health insurance.   Those of us who are not totally confused by America’s new approach to universal healthcare coverage are most likely, at least, sick of hearing about it.  But what about those other kinds of insurance:  auto, home, life?  For a lot longer than healthcare insurance, the television airwaves have been jammed with advertising for these other types of insurance—especially from the “Big 3” brands:  Geico, Allstate, and State Farm.  Maybe most Americans are equally confused by or just as tired of these insurance offerings as they are of healthcare insurance.  But one thing’s for sure:  both in the astronomical money being spent and in the messaging being presented, the auto-home-life insurance business is darned competitive!


But competitive how?  If you take a closer look at what each of these three brands is and has been promising (their benefits, so to speak), there are no obvious advantages to one brand’s policies over another’s.  In fact, their promises are downright squishy.  Both Geico and Allstate consistently use that ever-safe marketing fudge language,  could save.”  No sure deliverable there; no guarantees either.  And as for State Farm, beyond promising to review your current policies to see if you’re missing a discount or two, what tangible advantage are they really offering?  No, none of these Big 3 brands is promising anything that a consumer could “take to the bank.”


Okay, then, perhaps their campaign ideas offer some competitive advantage.  After all, Geico has the famous British-accented gecko; Allstate has its devil-may-care “mayhem man”; and State Farm has its “Daaaable Check” (accompanied by, occasionally, Green Bay Packer quarterback, Aaron Rodgers with his touchdown dance).  But, of course, these are nothing more than executional devices…”gizmos” of sort.  True, they may help to foster certain engagement with the brand, or even a desired level of brand awareness, but of themselves, they clearly offer consumers no meaningful advantage.  So where, really, is the competitiveness among these brands?


It’s in the insights.  Each of these advertising campaigns is built upon a legitimate and compelling insight—reflective of a distinctive target…a target with a prevailing mindset.  Let’s take a look at the advertising campaign insights, as we infer them:



GEICO (“Get Happy” Campaign):


Type of Insight:  Untapped Compelling Belief about saving money:  it’s not just the actual dollars that count, but the “glee” of knowing that you’ve saved.


Consumer Insight:  “Everyone’s talking discounts and savings—cell phone plans, TV plans, internet plans, and insurance plans.  But who knows IF you’re really saving?  I’d be tickled to death if I could actually see what I’ve saved.”



Allstate (“Mayhem” Campaign):


Type of Insight:  Perceived or Real Weakness of Competition to be exploited…that many “cut-rate” insurance providers fail to cover the full spectrum of unusual/unexpected losses one may encounter.


Consumer Insight:  “When you buy insurance, you’re mainly thinking about the basic ‘fender-bender’ that most people run into.  But, you know, mishaps are all around us…and most seem to surprise us and come out of nowhere.”



State Farm (“Discount Double-Check” Campaign):


Type of Insight:  Perceived or Real Weakness of Competition to be exploited…that many insurance salesmen and policies fail to disclose all the savings available to a prospective insured.


Consumer Insight:  “Insurance policies are like cell phone plans—who can understand them?  Not to mention that, unless you specifically ask for the best-available plan or policy, you’ll never know what savings you could be missing.”


Assuming these inferred insights are even reasonably accurate, you can perceive where the differentiation among the three brands lies:  it’s in the mindset of the intended Target Consumer.  And, clearly, while just about everyone requires auto and household insurance, not everyone thinks about that requirement or need in exactly the same way.  For the bulls-eye GEICO target, what’s really important is the joy of knowing you have really saved some money—and how much money to boot.  For the Allstate target, it’s overcoming those nagging doubts one might have about their low-cost/cut-rate insurance policy already in force:  “Am I covered for all the bizarre things that can (and probably will) go wrong?”  And for the State farm target, it’s having the reassurance of understanding all the aspects of their insurance coverage…and of not missing out on some available, but deliberately unmentioned, discounts.




The lesson, for us, from this quick mini-case study, is simply this:  there are a lot of categories like auto-home-life insurance out there in the marketplace today…categories in which there are no real advantages among a few leading brands.  So the way you win in categories like these is not with some clever executional device (like a duck or a gecko), but with a legitimate & compelling insight that speaks directly to a specific target-mindset (versus speaking to everyone who needs or might be looking for insurance).  Although twenty years ago we might never have expected to say this, in today’s parity-performing marketplace, it’s more than ever essential that you win with your insight.  So, for all your future communications make sure your brand is in good hands:  buy yourself some “insight insurance.”


Richard Czerniawski and Mike Maloney


Richard Czerniawski

430 Abbotsford Road

Kenilworth, Illinois 60043

tel 847.256.8820 fax 847.256.8847

reply to Richard: or



Mike Maloney

1506 West 13th

Austin, Texas 78703

tel 512.236.0971 fax 512.236.0972

reply to Mike: or

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