Allstate jumps aboard investment bandwagon

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Allstate's "good hands" people last week took the "I" word out of the company's name.

The former Allstate Life Group of Cos. changed its name Nov. 2 to Allstate Financial and will launch a marketing effort next year to publicize the change.

The new name is part of an evolution in the Allstate organization over the past 18 months to focus more attention on marketing savings and investment products, said Peggy Dyer, senior VP-marketing for Allstate Financial.

"The change is the result of a strategic plan to significantly grow our business, as well as understanding our competition," Ms. Dyer said. "One of our strengths is we have 20 million customers who are Allstate customers, a middle American market. Traditional financial services companies have not served them as well. It's a growth opportunity."

Allstate currently has 2,500 insurance agents who meet regulatory requirements to also market investment products to the public, and the company said it expects half its 13,000-agent force to meet those requirements by the end of 2001.

Allstate touted the change with a series of local announcements nationwide on Nov. 2, but it will follow up with a multimedia ad campaign in 2001. Details and spending are still in development, but Ms. Dyer said the campaign will likely include TV and print ads, sponsorships, online marketing and public relations efforts.

50-YEAR-OLD TAGLINE

With all the changes, Allstate still plans to keep its tagline "You're in good hands with Allstate," which has served the company for over 50 years. The tagline was last used in a new campaign from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago which broke last year. The company spent $95 million in ads in 1999 and $46 million during the first half of 2000, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Allstate is the latest insurance company to revamp its image as a financial adviser to get a slice of the booming baby boomer market. In the last year, competitors such as Nationwide and MassMutual Financial Group also have changed their names to drop the word "Insurance" and advertised to emphasize their investment and retirement products.

Banks, insurance companies and brokers have taken advantage of policy changes that allowed them to enter each other's segment to offer a full menu of services. Even tax preparer H&R Block repositioned earlier this year as a network of financial advisers to leverage its customer relationships.

All insurers have become more active marketers in the late 1990s, seeking a larger slice of the financial assets of aging boomers. Many of AllState's competitors -- including American Family Life Assurance Co., Chubb Group of Insurance Cos., New York Life Insurance Co. and Principal Financial Group -- have broken new campaigns in the last year.

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