Insurer SafeAuto Tries Its Hand at Humor-Based Advertising

SafeAuto recently debuted the first video in an advertising campaign to feature comedian Norm Macdonald as spokesman, making the Ohio-based insurance provider the latest major insurer to deploy a humor-based marketing campaign in order to gain consumers’ attention.

“Norm Macdonald has a unique, tell-it-like-it-is style,” Jon Diamond, SafeAuto president, said in a statement about the actor, who is known for his five-year run on “Saturday Night Live.” “We think it’s a great fit with SafeAuto’s innovative approach to insurance—now more than ever.”

Insurance companies have been relying more and more on humorous content and spokespeople in advertisement campaigns. A 2011 study from J.D. Power and Associates, prompted by the introduction of Allstate’s “Mayhem” character in advertising campaigns, found that the industry spent more than $5 billion in marketing, with four major insurers—State Farm, Allstate, GEICO and Progressive—making up more than half of that amount.

Several of those insurers employed humor in marketing campaigns with snappy slogans or colorful characters, including Progressive’s spokeswoman Flo and State Farm’s motto “Magic Jingle.”

“Differentiating a brand or policy offering through advertising is challenging for insurers that have traditionally relied on a short list of messages about savings, security, peace of mind, or more recently, humor,” the study’s authors stated, adding that the recent wave of such advertisements began with the GEICO Cavemen and Gecko characters in the mid-2000s.

Whether SafeAuto will have the same type of good fortune with Macdonald remains to be seen.

The company touts itself as a leading coverage provider that deals directly with consumers who want to get cheap auto insurance online or by phone instead of going through agents. Minimum policies are available through the company in 16 states: Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

About John Pirro
John Pirro is a licensed fire and casualty insurance agent specializing in various aspects of the auto insurance industry. He worked in the auto body repair industry before taking a reporting position at Online Auto Insurance News.

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