Hartford ads tout bicentennial

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To celebrate its 200th anniversary this year, The Hartford Financial Services Group has rolled out an integrated campaign with the theme, “With The Hartford behind you, achieve what's ahead of you.”

The campaign, developed by Rodgers Townsend, St. Louis, includes TV, print and online. The budget was undisclosed.

“We have been gearing up for this campaign for almost a year,” said Connie Weaver, senior VP-marketing and communications at The Hartford. “Last year, we were pretty much dark all year in terms of TV advertising. It gave us an opportunity to step back and reset the foundation of our brand.”

The Hartford conducted extensive research with its audience of consumers and small businesses in preparation for its bicentennial marketing efforts.

“We wanted to understand our relevance to our audiences and redefine our messaging,” Weaver said. “This allowed us to build the foundational elements required to run a very well integrated campaign.”

She added: “This is a reintroduction of The Hartford. We want to show people the roots we came from and what made this company what it is—our core values of trust and meeting commitments to customers. We are starting with the bicentennial and going forward into the future.”

The ad campaign is part of a broader brand effort that includes a commemorative logo of The Hartford's stag, a redesigned Web site, print collateral and other marketing materials.

“Heretofore, much of our brand has focused on the stag,” Weaver said. “We are a diversified financial services company. A good piece of our business is around retirement savings and mutual funds. We want to broaden people's knowledge of the company from insurance to all the services we provide.”

Two new TV spots called “Pursuits”—one aimed at consumers; the other, at small businesses—showcase individuals in pursuit of their financial goals.

“On the b-to-b side, it is about enabling business owners to do what they do best and make decisions, knowing The Hartford is behind them,” Weaver said.

In the TV spots, the Hartford logo dissolves into animated particles that take flight and weave through each individual scene, “conveying The Hartford's continuous presence throughout every phase of a customer's life or a business,” Weaver said. At the end of each commercial, the animated particles reform as The Hartford logo.

The ads are running on sports programs such as NCAA college football; prime-time programs such as “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours”; and cable networks including A&E, CNN, CNN Headline News, CNBC, ESPN, Discovery Channel and The History Channel.

The campaign includes print ads in business and general news magazines, including Fortune, Money and Time, as well as vertical publications, such as Independent Agent.

The print ads depict examples of The Hartford's history of keeping its promises to customers, such as the time its then-president Eliphalet Terry traveled by sleigh from Hartford, Conn., to New York in 1835 to pay claims to business owners who had lost property in a fire that destroyed much of the financial district. “That act has come to personify The Hartford's trustworthiness and stability, a reputation that still lives on today,” Weaver said.

All ads drive users to the redesigned Web site at

“The site has a whole new look and feel,” Weaver said. “We have shifted from a product focus to a customer focus. We have redesigned the site to focus on the customers' needs as opposed to what products they want to buy.”

Another big focus of the redesigned Web site is providing support for the company's agents. “So many of our products are distributed through intermediaries,” Weaver said. “We are doing everything we can to support our agents.”

The site has tools for agents, brokers and financial professionals, including an electronic business center to help them manage their businesses; an integrated issuance system that lets brokers rate and quote premiums; and an exclusive area for FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) professionals.

“All roads should lead to the Web,” Weaver said. “Whatever touchpoint you have with us, whether it's TV or an ad in a trade magazine, we want to drive you to the Web to get more information and find thought-leadership content.”

The Hartford is also using social media to promote the campaign, such as a fan page on Facebook and a Twitter account. “Social media has become a normal distribution channel for us,” Weaver said.

“We are looking at all channels that are relevant to our audiences in terms of marketing campaigns. There is so much opportunity, and so many challenges, when it comes to content management and compliance, particularly in a regulated industry. It opens up a whole new area for dialogue.”

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