Farmers Names Richards Group Agency of Record

In Addition to Creative, Shop to Handle Insurer's Media Buying, Digital Work

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- After a four-month search among 17 contenders, Farmers Insurance Group of Cos. tapped independent Richards Group as its agency of record. The Dallas-based agency takes the helm from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Campbell-Ewald, and will handle all brand and creative development, media buying and digital work for Farmers Insurance, among other responsibilities.

"We wanted to go a new direction in our advertising approach," said Kevin Kelso, the insurer's chief marketing officer. "We've done a lot of brand work in the past couple of years, and some of it has been well-received. We've even won awards. ... But we want to have a broader story." The new effort will focus on Farmer's history and agent network.

During the agency review the list was whittled down to four, though Mr. Kelso declined to mention the other finalists.

Farmers Insurance recognizes that TV is a "very crowded" medium for insurance companies, he said, so the company and its agency will look to work in other media to reach customers.

Farmers Insurance is a wholly owned subsidiary of Zurich Financial Services. According to data from TNS Media Intelligence, Zurich Financial spent close to $198 million on advertising in 2007, and $76.5 million from January to September, the latest month for which information is available. A breakout for Farmers was not available.

The search, which began in August, was handled by Select Resources International.