David Mastovich

What do Baker Mayfield, Flo and Mayhem have in common?

They’re all part of brand awareness campaigns designed to promote competing insurance companies. 

Over the years, brands such as Progressive and Allstate have captured the attention of Americans with their witty ads that seem to stick in our minds whether we like it or not. 

Their uncanny ability to create engaging and memorable ads with different characters and narratives has helped keep their brands at the forefront, not just in the insurance industry, but in society as a whole. 

In fact, characters such as Flo have garnered so much attention that Progressive has doubled down and found other ways to promote her with content such as Dress Like Flo that gives consumers the outfit breakdown for a Halloween costume.

Allstate, on the other hand, has teamed up with Kirk Herbstreit to deliver Moments of Mayhem every week during the college football season.

While these examples may feel like new, fresh advertising ideas, creating memorable characters to build brand recognition for insurers isn’t a new concept. 

Brands such as Geico and Aflac paved the way as they respectively leveraged a reptile and a duck to generate brand awareness. 

Both insurance companies found success by creating memorable messaging ties to one big idea.

I talk about this in-depth in my article, Geico’s Gecko or the AFLAC Duck? How your favorite mascot can help your marketing.

No matter if it’s Baker Mayfield cutting the grass in the stadium or Mayhem breaking into a car right before the owner’s eyes, these commercials share a common thread in how they use ad characters to connect with their target audience. 

Insurance is a commoditized product, customers can pretty much get the same thing from multiple companies. That’s why companies such as Allstate and Progressive place a major emphasis on branding.

They might not admit it but the brand is probably more important than the actual product.

The insurer that creates the best messaging can gain market share.

Jeff Charney, Progressive’s chief marketing officer, explained in an interview for chief executive magazine that in order to grow the brand, he would build a network of ad characters, each with a unique characteristic or a memorable trait. 

Charney’s strategy shows that he understood the power of leveraging, the art of marketing, by stirring emotions, making it memorable and focusing on one trait that tells a story about each character.

Whether it’s a TV commercial, Halloween costume or a college football segment sponsor, these insurance companies are providing companies, small and large, with a lesson in the power of storytelling to build brand awareness.

David Mastovich is founder and CEO of MASSolutions, host of the “No BS Marketing” podcast and author of the book “Get Where You Want to Go Through Marketing, Selling and Story Telling.”

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