Thursday, March 10, 2011

Your Brand's Worst Nightmare

Friends, I don't own a DVR.  I know that is horrifying some of you.  I get why people like having one but there isn't enough of a compelling reason for me.  This means that I can't fast forward through commercials.  Instead, the commercials allow me to refresh my tea, mull over my next Words With Friends move, etc.

But sometimes I watch commercials.  Here is one from Esurance I've seen recently.

Do you know what I think of every time I see that one?  This one:

Can't be good.  Actually, I would say very bad.  The last thing we want as marketers is to have a competitor's brand floating around in a customer's (or prospect's) head when they see or think of our brand.  For what it's worth, I suspect that Esurance intentionally muddies the advertising waters by creating spots that at best are inspired by Progressive and at worst are just copycats.  

** If they are not doing this intentionally, I would quickly stage a marketing intervention. **

When we have lookalike marketing, it's an extremely superficial approach to winning customers.  There's nothing about it that speaks to the emotional reasons (later assigned rational reasons) why a customer decides to go with Brand A versus Brand B.  And not only is it superficial, it's insulting.  

Why?  Well, in this case, it assumes that we buy insurance based on the entertainment value of the advertising and not because, perhaps, as customers we do our homework before making a decision.  What if we buy insurance from one company over the other because:
  • We feel like the customer care truly embodies "customer" and "care" if we've an accident or following up on a claim.
  • We feel secure that if we were to report a claim, the financial piece of it would be easy to manage so that we can get a repair or replacement as soon as possible.
  • We feel like the agent is an advocate by putting things into easy to understand language (without being condescending) and telling us our options without force selling us one option.
  • And so on...

It's not only insulting to the customer.  It's insulting to the brand itself.  When I see Esurance commercials, I think that their marketing team and advertising agency are devoid of inspiration.  It makes me think that neither can think of one really good differentiating attribute of the product to create branding, marketing and advertising that reflect and celebrate that differentiating attribute.  

And so, I say it's your brand's worst nightmare when the team responsible for romancing the brand and the product to the public come up empty.

What say you?  Please share your thoughts and if you've liked reading this, please share with others.

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef


  1. I don't know, Parissa...I would actually give Esurance a thumbs up for an attempt to differentiate. IF they are doing this intentionally, maybe it's because they want to ride Progressive's coattails - and get into the same category with them (as they compete with the much bigger boys and girls with bigger budgets).

  2. Thanks for your comment Dave... the funny thing about the two examples I shared above is that while the Progressive spot is goofy, there is a bit of product education involved which is in contrast to Esurance. The only coattail Esurance is riding is the goofy one which is not a good enough reason to buy insurance... but tshirts, maybe.