2775 Sanders Road
Northbrook, Illinois 60062-6127
Telephone: (847) 402-5000
Fax: (847) 326-7519
Web site: www.allstate.com
The Allstate Corporation, America's longtime number two auto insurer, faced new challenges in the 1990s when competitors such as GEICO and the Progressive Corporation blanketed television with spots playing up the low prices of their policies. Long reliant on its slogan "You're in Good Hands," Allstate found itself in need of a brand refurbishing to counteract the inroads made by these direct marketers. In November 2003 Allstate released the "Our Stand" marketing campaign, its first to feature a celebrity spokesperson, actor Dennis Haysbert, known for playing the president of the United States on the hit television series 24.
While "Our Stand" included radio, print, and Internet elements, the core of the campaign was the television spots featuring Haysbert. The spots offered a soft sell in which Haysbert made the case that price was not everything when it came to buying car insurance—a relationship with an agent was important as well—and vouched for Allstate's integrity and commitment to take a stand for customers and promote their interests. Although the company did not reveal the advertising budget for the campaign, Allstate was reported in the press to have increased its ad budget 56 percent to more than $120 million in 2003, a level it maintained in 2004 and 2005.
"Our Stand" helped Allstate reestablish its position in the marketplace. The company reported that the number of consumers contacting Allstate through its sales agents, website, and call center had increased after the campaign began, but it did not provide any financial data to support the claim. Haysbert's contract was extended through 2006, however, indicating that the company was pleased with the campaign's effectiveness.
Allstate was credited with having the oldest surviving tagline in paid advertising: "You're in Good Hands with Allstate," which dated back to 1951, when a print ad first depicted a pair of hands cradling an automobile. (The oldest tagline in use was "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires," a long-standing public-service effort produced by the Advertising Council; it had been used since 1947.) Throughout its history Allstate and its rivals produced advertising that was serious in tone, emphasizing such company virtues as trust and reliability and never mentioning price. Then, in the 1990s, GEICO, a direct marketer of car insurance ranked seventh in sales, upset the status quo by bombarding the television airways with humorous commercials that challenged the likes of number two Allstate and market leader State Farm solely on the basis of price. The Progressive Corporation soon followed suit, and Allstate came under increasing pressure to protect its market share.
To keep its slogan fresh and maintain relevance in the marketplace, Allstate offered variations on the "Good Hands" theme. The insurer also dabbled with celebrity endorsers. In 2001, for example, Allstate began a television, print, and radio advertising campaign that used the tagline "The Right Hands Make All the Difference." The advertisements featured football players Joe Montana and Jerry Rice as well as inventor Ann Lai, all of who whom relied on their hands in their professions. But the "Right Hands" campaign failed to stem a drop in Allstate policyholder growth, and after...