Garfield's AdReview

By Published on .

Gee, what's insurance for?

If we're not mistaken, it's for compensating a loss of property or life, to maintain financial equilibrium. That's what it's for. All insurance. For all risks. For all policyholders. From all carriers.

Loss, in other words, is a given.

So if you were advertising your particular brand of insurance, what would be the point of dramatizing a loss?

Allow us to answer: There would be no point at all.

Perhaps if you had something to offer your policyholders that could be construed as a differentiating benefit-the fastest service, the most generous appraisals, the fewest exceptions, 3-D refrigerator magnets, whatever-then the portrayal of loss could be a setup for your brand benefit. But unless you had an overwhelming market share, the generic depiction of catastrophe and the generic solution of insurance is simply ... um, how can we put this gently ... ah, yes:


Consider, then, the new campaign for AAA, the auto club, from BuderEngel & Friends, San Francisco.

One spot opens with a woman and her young son sitting in their handsome and capacious suburban house. The kid's doing homework at the dining-room table. Mom's relaxing on the sofa with a magazine. We don't know where Dad and Sis are. Probably at Anthropologie, buying more expensive stuff.

Anyway, suddenly, the sky darkens. Lightning flashes. Thunder thunders. As the two look nervously out the window, the porch umbrella teeters. Things go flying around the yard. The Weber kettle goes sliding into the swing set and the porch furniture into the swimming pool.

Junior's bike goes smashing into the iron fence and the garage dormer is ripped from its moorings, sliding down onto the hood of the Volvo. Yesireee, there is a lot of damage. So naturally, when the alarm goes off in the car, it also goes off on the nice well-to-do folks. They grab their slickers and rush outside.

But wait! When they get outdoors, it's sunny once again! And, right there in the driveway, a stranger is putting the undamaged bike up on its kickstand, right next to the undamaged Volvo parked in front of the undamaged garage!

Why, it's the kindly man from AAA!

"When the unfortunate happens," a voice-over explains, "Triple A homeowners and auto insurance can make it feel like it never happened."

Magical adjusters. Now there's a unique selling proposition.

The fact is this is just a bit of visual hyperbole that could have been presented by Allstate, State Farm and every other property insurer. Likewise a second spot about a car being pummeled by golf balls at a driving range.The only thing this campaign achieves for AAA that it doesn't achieve for 100% of its competition is to remind us that the auto club even exists anymore in these days of car-manufacturer- and car-insurance-provided 24-hour roadside assistance.

Amazingly, according to Wikipedia, 25% of American households still maintain AAA memberships. Maybe they're the target-as in, "Hey, the service you pay for is probably redundant to your insurance policy, so why not just buy insurance from us!" But if that's the strategy, no incentive is provided.

Maybe this client was so wowed by the agency's description of how it would simulate squall damage that it neglected to inquire as to what selling might take place. True enough, a lot of hot air was generated. Sadly, the result was total loss.

More sadly still, there is no magical advertising adjuster to make it feel like it never happened.

Review 1 star


Agency: BuderEngel & Friends

Location: San Francisco

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