299. Esurance Takes a Step Forward.
Jun 10, 2010 at 03:54AM
If you watch any TV at all you've seen pink-haired animated spokesperson Erin Esurance taking on the gecko of Geico, Flo from Progressive, that guy—you know that guy—from All-State and a slew of other insurance companies. What the Esurance spots lacked in creativity they made up for by standing out stylistically within the category. The main problem with the animations were that they also lent a start-up vibe (or maybe more accurately an amateur vibe) to the company. Not something most people look for in an insurance provider. And in terms of being interesting they were usually rather not.

Well, as of yesterday Erin is taking a backseat to a new live-action campaign for Esurance produced by San Francisco based agency, Duncan/Channon. The spots take place in the offices of Esurance and utilize several employees; Mica, Frank, Chad, and Sanjeev. The idea is, as they interact with each other they also give the viewer all the hard-sell info about why they should choose Esurance. The tone is light-hearted but effective. The first two spots succeed on this level and are well-acted and even borderline endearing. This is a compliment. I think with enough refinement and time the characters could even become icons and the banter between them good enough to fill longer-format webisodes. (Ugh, I just used the word webisodes didn't I?) I'm not predicting they go out and try a sitcom like the cavemen just yet, I'm simply saying there is potential with what I've seen so far for this setup to work long-term, and in longer formats if they don't get too heavy-handed with the salesmanship.

There are other things going on beyond the actual spots too. Nice things. For one, they are debuting a new tagline / business strategy that in my mind responds to the current market like few that I have witnessed. I think it's smart, well written, and provides the foundation for everything they are trying to communicate to potential customers. I even like how it's split into two parts and works visually as two moving pieces. Now that I mention it, the tagline works better because of how they are designing it. The positioning is a strong response (not reaction) to market realities and articulates how I feel about a lot of services. The words contain a timely articulate truth.

The New Esurance Tagline / Strategy:

The official press release quotes Chief Marketing Officer John Swigart, "Consumers told us they felt they had to compromise when making their auto insurance buying decision, having to choose between useful online tools or personalized, human interaction. However, they are really looking for a company that will provide them the best of both worlds: great technology along with a human touch."

Esurance: Hug it Out:

By now you've noticed this isn't the same Esurance work. No animation. Erin only appears within the office setting (though often.) And oh yeah - they've updated their entire brand identity. We've got new colors, new typography and new style all around. You're seeing a softer, better kerned rounded sans face replacing an alltogether ugly logotype. There is no symbol to speak of and it's not missed in the least. Everything is given space, kept simple, and is consistent. All good boxes to check.

The New Esurance Logotype:
They're doing all the little things too. They've started a blog called Dashboard to help give the company a more personal feel. They've got the Twitter and Facebook pages going to promote the new them. Esurance is also giving a more in-depth peek behind the employees you see in the spots via a mini-site, InsideEsurance. Here you can read short bios about each character as well as watch the spots. Now, yes the characters do feel to be researched and tested to include just the right mix of gender, ethnicity, age and the like to appeal to as many people as possible; and it shows a bit; but that's probably unavoidable. I imagine as the campaign evolves so will the employees, er, actors paid to be employees.

Esurance: The Saver:

Now before you get all excited, I'm not saying this campaign is the be-all, end-all in creativity. Nor does it rival Nike's Rewrite the Future everyone is in love with (which you can view two posts below, btw.) What I am saying is that this work resides in a much tougher category, with more complex business problems and has been produced with—more likely than not—a more demanding client. Also, it's nice to see a company improve their advertising instead of going in the opposite direction. They chose a good agency and let them do their thing. They utilized solid design and branding work. They recognized where their brand has been and kept animated Erin in the work, even if just a little. And the spots have charm. This is a step forward for Esurance. Now all the company has to do is back up this solid work with great customer service. No easy task to be sure. (And For those counting at home, that's two posts in a row that we can put in the positive category. Huzzah.)

2 of 4 Esurance Spokes-employees, Mica and Frank:

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