Liberty Mutual Begins Creative and Media Reviews

Insurer Spent Nearly $160 Million in Measured Media Last Year

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Liberty Mutual has kicked off a creative and media review, according to executives familiar with the matter.

Interpublic Group of Cos.' Hill Holiday has handled advertising for insurer since 2005. Both creative duties and media duties will be part of the pitch, executives said, though there will be two separate review processes taking place. Boston-based search firm Pile & Co. is managing the process.

Hill Holliday declined to comment but confirmed the agency will defend in the review. Liberty Mutual didn't respond to a request for comment by press time.

The pitch comes under Liberty Mutual senior VP-Chief Marketing Officer Jim McPhee, who's been in that role about a year. He was previously at SafeCo, although he worked at Liberty Mutual in various roles earlier in his career.

Liberty Mutual is one of the bigger accounts to go into review this year. According to Kantar Media, Liberty Mutual spent nearly $160 million in measured media last year, with nearly $70 million of that amount allocated to market auto insurance.

The insurer's most recent ad campaign, "Humans," focuses on the notion that we live in an imperfect world, and positions Liberty Mutual as sympathetic to the fact that even the most responsible people stumble and accidents happen. Its ad spending over the past several years has helped contribute to an overall rise in the insurance sector's investment in marketing. Liberty Mutual is among the big names signed on to buy time in NBC Universal's coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia. NBC Universal is projecting an $800 million-plus advertising haul for the games.

For Hill Holliday, the need to defend the plum account comes at a time when it is a contender -- as part of a team at Interpublic -- in one of the biggest creative reviews of the year, for General Motors' Cadillac brand.

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