Conseco, Inc.

Author:Debbi Mack
Pages:367-370
 
INDEX
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Page 367

11825 N Pennsylvania St.

Carmel, Indiana 46032

USA

Telephone: (317) 817-6100

Fax: (317) 817-2847

Web site: www.conseco.com

PROTECT/CREATE WEALTH CAMPAIGN
OVERVIEW

Although Conseco, Inc., an insurance and financial services company, had become large and successful through acquisitions, it had little name recognition even among agents working for its various units. In order to establish the Conseco name as a brand, the company hired the advertising agency Fallon McElligott, Inc. to develop a print campaign to run in trade publications, followed by a $15 million television campaign, "Protect/Create Wealth," targeted toward consumers with household incomes between $25,000 and $75,000 per year. The consumer campaign, Conseco's first-ever on television, began running in February 1998 on ESPN and during the CBS broadcast of the NCAA basketball tournament, after which it moved to cable television. In a departure from the warm, sentimental advertising of insurance companies in the past, the campaign used edgy humor to make the point that life did not always go as expected and that a person needed to be financially prepared for bad or good times, either by having insurance or a financial plan. The company followed up with a $5 million print campaign in April 1998. The "Protect/Create Wealth" campaign ended in December 1998.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Conseco was founded in 1979 as Security National of Indiana Corp. by Stephen C. Hilbert, a former encyclopedia salesman from Terre Haute. In 1982 the company made the first of many acquisitions that would be the key to its growth, and in 1983 the company changed its name to Conseco, Inc. According to the company's annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on March 31, 1999, from 1982 through 1998 Conseco acquired 19 insurance groups. By January 1998 the company was a $36 billion entity that sold life and health insurance and annuities under 25 names, including Colonial Penn Life and Casualty, American Travellers Life, Bankers Life & Casualty, and Capitol American.

Despite the fact that Conseco had grown into one of the country's largest life and health insurance companies, few knew the company name. According to company spokesperson Jim Rosensteele, "Our research showed that even agents currently doing business with a Conseco company have very low awareness of the Conseco name. For many years, we've been thought of as a collection of companies." The company thus decided to develop the Conseco name as a brand. At the same time Conseco decided to diversify beyond insurance into the realm of financial services, and in 1997 the company began to market its own over-the-counter mutual funds. The following year, Conseco spent $6.5 billion to acquire

Page 368

Green Tree Financial Corp., which added home loans, credit cards, and home equity loans to its offerings.

Another reason to seek name recognition was Conseco's need to begin growing from within by increasing the sales of the companies it had purchased. One market observer claimed that 1998 would be a "make-or-break year" for Conseco, noting, "So far, they've built [success] on the bodies of a number of companies without a lot of brand recognition. They're probably not going to have any significant acquisitions this year, so they've got to digest the acquisitions they've already made and show some internal growth."

Conseco was aware of the need to increase sales and in 1996 began to work on a new marketing plan. By January 1998 the company had a new logo, which featured a series of steps rising from the Conseco name, illustrating the company's focus on performance. Conseco hired advertising agency Fallon McElligott to create a print campaign targeted toward the nation's 190,000 independent insurance agents. The campaign emphasized Conseco's financial success. One advertisement read, "Q: What do you call an insurance company that has an unyielding grasp on the bottom line? A: Your friend." It went on to say, "We are unapologetically profitable … PERFORMANCE IS WHAT MATTERS." Conseco set aside $10 million...

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