Esurance kicked off a new brand campaign tonight with two spots, starring Lindsay Lohan and Bryan Cranston, airing around the Super Bowl on NBC. The push aims to drive awareness for the brand in the competitive insurance category and promote personalized insurance quotes.
The campaign, called "Sorta You Isn't You," illustrates how Esurance offers insurance quotes that are tailored to each consumer's needs. It builds on the "Insurance for the Modern World" effort that launched in 2011. Leo Burnett, Chicago, handled creative, while Starcom handled media buying.
"Consumers expect to be treated as individuals, even when we buy insurance," said CMO Alan Gellman. "We're giving them that AHA moment with the campaign."
The campaign marks the first major branding effort from Mr. Gellman, who joined the company last April. When Mr. Gellman took on the role, he said he wanted to be bold and take risks. The company is looking to compete in a category dominated by giants, including Allstate, Geico, Progressive and State Farm.
The first-time Super Bowl advertiser showed up with two spots on game day, one aired before the kick off and another aired during the second quarter. A year ago, Esurance touted how much money it could save by airing an ad immediately following the Super Bowl rather than during the game.
"Innovative brands don't just repeat what they've done before," said Mr. Gellman, declining to share the campaign's budget. "This year, we're going to up the ante by being in game."
The ad that aired before kickoff starred Ms. Lohan as a "Sorta Mom" picking up children from school, and the in-game spot starred Mr. Cranston, resuming his role as Walter White from "Breaking Bad," as a "Sorta Pharmacist."
Esurance will roll out three more spots as part of the campaign over the next three months. The next ad, "Sorta Teacher," will air on Monday during Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC and will not star a celebrity. Esurance's longtime narrator John Krasinski voiced all five spots.
Last year, Esurance was the most-tweeted brand in the Super Bowl when it offered viewers $1.5 million and aired an ad starring Mr. Krasinski. The push asked people to tweet "#EsuranceSave30" for a chance to win all the money the brand saved by running the spot immediately after the game, rather than during the game.
The insurer relied on celebrity influencers and the element of surprise to drive engagement this year. Ms. Lohan shared behind-the-scenes photos and videos of the ad she appeared in during the week leading up to the game, while Mr. Cranston was the company's "quarterback sneak," said Susan Credle, chief creative officer at Leo Burnett.
Mr. Cranston shared enigmatic tweets hinting that he, or rather his "Breaking Bad" character, was headed to the game, while Esurance tweeted that a secret celebrity would star in its spot. The play built some pre-game buzz, without giving away the main event.
Guy sends me this: Heisenberg quickly leaving a store in El Paso. Followed him. He got on the 10 heading west. What? pic.twitter.com/YU4oBdK02O— Bryan Cranston (@BryanCranston) January 28, 2015
"How do you maintain an element of surprise in the Super Bowl, but take advantage of all the pre-bowl chatter?" said Ms. Credle. "We put Lindsay out there… to get the conversation started. But by holding Cranston back, we maintained the element of surprise."
Esurance will continue using social to drive branded and user-generated content around the "Sorta You Isn't You" campaign, but Ms. Credle said they're still hashing out the details.