Allstate Launches Portal to Gather Media-Buying Ideas

CMO Mark LaNeve Unveils Site to Maximize One of the Smallest Budgets in Insurance Industry

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NEW YORK ( -- Allstate is reaching out to media sellers, asking them to submit ideas on everything from product design and integrated marketing buys to digital strategies and leveraging consumer insights.

Mark LaNeve
Mark LaNeve
Senior VP-CMO Mark LaNeve, along with Allstate Chairman-President-CEO Tom Wilson and VP-Marketing Lisa Cochrane today introduced, a portal through which the insurance marketer is seeking ideas to help it find higher ground in a feverishly competitive category that competes largely on price. Mr. LaNeve -- accompanied by actor and Allstate spokesman Dennis Haysbert -- said the company will still work as usual with longtime agencies Leo Burnett and Starcom, and noted that the portal will now be the "central location" through which all media ideas are shared with Allstate and those agencies.

The goal is to help the marketer and its shops "see what we don't see by being so close to it," Mr. Wilson said to an assembled audience of media sellers. "Help us figure out how we stay above the noise level."

As if that wasn't enough enticement for media sellers hungry for new business in a recession, the Allstate executives said that they are open to changing up this year's media spending and allocation based on ideas that come through this portal. "The consumer is changing every single day. Bring us your ideas. The door is not closed for 2010," Ms. Cochrane said.

Ideas coming through the portal that are good enough will get funded, Mr. LaNeve promised. Spending on ideas that come through the portal would represent incremental media dollars, Ms. Cochrane said.

Competing on value
In the presentation, Mr. LaNeve, former top marketer at General Motors Corp. who joined the insurer last fall, articulated Allstate's brand strategy as one where it competes on value, not price. "We have a chance to reinvent this category, to truly be about protecting and restoring our customers' lives," he said. "That's where Allstate's going to live," he said, adding that he wants consumers to "think about Allstate first in this category."

At the time of his hiring, Allstate was ranked "about average" by customers in consultant J.D. Powers and Associates' annual National Homeowners Insurance Study of 27 companies.

Some media sellers in attendance at today's presentation said Allstate's move in developing the portal represents the marketer trying to be as innovative, creative and consumer-focused as possible in a category not known for its innovation -- and to leverage a budget that is one of the smaller ones in the category.

According to WPP's Kantar Media, Allstate and State Farm each spent $178 million last year on auto-specific media, vs $477 million from Geico and $290 million from Progressive. Total spending by brands in 2008 for all insurance products, according to Kantar Media: Geico, $619 million; State Farm, $436 million; Allstate, $362 million; and Progressive, $293 million. Geico and Progressive are only auto insurers, while State Farm and Allstate spread their budgets to promote other products such as home, life, property/casualty, financial planning and business.

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