Beats out Carat, Palisades Media

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NEW YORK ( -- Online auto insurer Esurance has selected Havas’ MPG to handle its media buying and planning account, according to executives familiar with the matter.

The choice follows a review in which MPG bested Aegis Group’s Carat and independent Palisades Media, according to these executives.

Spending on the account was not disclosed, but one person familiar with the review said the insurance provider is readying a significant marketing push. According to this executive, Esurance spends approximately $75 million annually across all media and plans to increase that figure in 2006.

Esurance, based in San Francisco, is a direct-to-consumer auto insurer and a subsidiary of publicly traded White Mountains Insurance Group.

First for Rutman
The win is the first for MPG under the leadership of Charlie Rutman, who joined as CEO of North America in April. MPG, part of Havas, suffered a double blow early this year with the loss of two major accounts -- media planning and buying for both Volkswagen of North America and Intel -- which led to the company’s shedding one-third of its work force.

Ironically, executives at MPG and Palisades know Carat’s executives and capabilities intimately. Mr. Rutman is the former head of Carat USA and Bruce Dennler, now chief operating officer-president of Palisades, was previously exec VP-head of planning at Carat.

Esurance media buying and planning had been handled in-house. Local buying will continue to be done in-house. MPG will handle national buying and planning. Creative duties continue to be done in-house.

Select Resources International, Santa Monica, Calif., conducted the review.

Calls to Esurance and the agencies were not returned at press time.

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