Nationwide Introduces Acrobatic, Leather-Clad Female Character

Watch the Spot: Country Music Star Jana Kramer Appears in New Ad

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For the past year, country singer Jana Kramer has sung the catchy "Nationwide is on your side" jingle. Wednesday night, during the CMT Music Awards, she'll receive a promotion of sorts when she takes center stage in the brand's new commercial.

The ad is the latest installment in Nationwide's "Join the Nation" campaign and highlights homeowners' insurance. As the housing market recovers, homeowners' and personal property insurance has received more attention from the category, which has long been preoccupied with auto insurance. Specifically, the new ad, "Unburglar," seeks to reacquaint viewers with the Brand New Belongings program--a product many Nationwide customers have but don't understand--and introduces Ms. Kramer as an acrobatic, leather-clad character.

"The [Brand New Belongings] product was around a long time, but no one was promoting it because, if you think about it, our category is really a marketing arms race around auto insurance," said Matt Jauchius, Nationwide's chief marketing officer.

Brand New Belongings replaces homeowners' stolen or destroyed items with new versions, regardless of age or condition. In the 30-second TV spot, Ms. Kramer follows robbers around a house, stealthily replacing items they snatch such as a TV and camera.

Nationwide has no plans to unveil a spokesperson, in the vein of the Geico Gecko or Progressive's Flo, but Mr. Jauchius said the company is very comfortable with Ms. Kramer's leather-clad character becoming a recognizable symbol for the brand. In pre-market testing, her character is perceived as trustworthy, which Mr. Jauchius called rare.

Viewers can expect at least one more TV spot featuring Ms. Kramer's character sometime this fall. "To be honest, as long as the testing holds up the way it is right now, and in particular in-market testing, I see this having a long shelf life with multiple executions using this character," Mr. Jauchius said.

"Halfway," the first ad promoting Brand New Belongings, debuted late last year. That ad focused on the idea that Nationwide doesn't do things halfway by giving members partial credit for stolen or destroyed items. In the six months since then, the insurer has seen a 2% uptick in the number of customers adding the formerly stagnant product.

"This is a lot like consumer packaged goods, where you come out with something that is improved—it might not be new—and you bring it to life in a way that really helps consumers understand the benefit they could get from it," Mr. Jauchius said. "This is a low-involvement category, and it's important to catch people's attention."

The new spot launches Wednesday night during the CMT Music Awards, an event that Nationwide sponsors. Ms. Kramer is nominated for two CMT Music Awards, and Mr. Jauchius said the debut of "Unburglar" corresponds perfectly with Nationwide's integration at the show, from the Nationwide stage, which will feature a variety of musicians, to the "On Your Side" award.