Geico Poised to Drive Past Allstate

Biggest-Spending Insurer Closes in on No. 2 Slot Behind State Farm

By Published on .

Geico might soon cause a little of its own mayhem in the auto-insurance market.

The marketer -- which spends some $1 billion a year on gecko and pig-filled advertising -- is poised to surpass Allstate as the nation's second-largest auto insurance company, according to business data company SNL Financial.

Geico has already passed Allstate for the first-quarter period, writing $4.72 billion in auto direct premiums compared with $4.53 billion for Allstate, according to SNL, which noted in a report this month that it is the first time Geico has surged ahead of its rival in a single reporting period.

For the year, Allstate still leads -- but barely. The insurer, whose advertising includes the "Mayhem" campaign, kept the No. 2 spot in auto insurance for the 12-month period ended March 31 by a narrow margin, with $17.65 billion in premiums to Geico's $17.16 billion. The Chicago Tribune first reported the numbers.

State Farm remains the leader, with $8.43 billion in direct premiums in the first quarter.

SNL noted that Geico's business has more seasonality than Allstate's, meaning that the "Good Hands" company could regain its familiar second-place position in the second quarter. But in a separate report, SNL projected that "after years of consistent premium growth, Geico is in position to become the second-largest U.S. personal auto writer in 2013."

In an interview with Ad Age, Geico Chief Marketing Officer Ted Ward said the company is "a little shy" about talking about No. 2 until the annual tally is published. (And for that, the company looks to data from A.M. Best.) But "we've been the fastest-growing for the last 10 [years]," he added, noting that if trends continue "we will remain the second-largest."

Allstate declined to comment.

Geico has fueled its growth by spending big on multiple ad campaigns that relentlessly push a savings message. Geico's ad-spending rise has been astronomical, jumping from the 87th-biggest spending brand across all industries in 2003 to No. 7 in 2011, according to the Ad Age Data Center. Ad Age will publish 2012 brand data on July 8, but Geico seems poised to keep climbing. According to SNL, the marketer spent $1.1 billion on property and casualty insurance advertising last year, up 12.45% from the year before, ranking ahead of Allstate ($828.8 million) and State Farm ($777.9 million).

Geico's newest campaign, called "Did You Know?" will debut Monday. The ads, by Martin Agency, have some fun with the notion that "everybody knows" Geico's long-running tagline: "15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance." In classic Geico-style, each spot ends with a one-liner. In one ad, a man replies to his wife that, "Yep, everybody knows that" after she repeats the tagline. Then she says: "But did you know that some owls aren't that wise?" In the next scene a female owl tells her "husband" about her plans for having lunch with a friend tomorrow. But all the male keeps saying is "Who?"

The savings tagline is "arguably the longest-running call-to-action tagline in advertising, going over 19 years," said Wade Alger, Martin's creative director for the Geico account. "We are the only ones who could question [our] own tagline."

Advertising Age Player

The campaign joins other ongoing TV campaigns including "Gecko Behind the Scenes," "Happier Than," and "Max Everywhere," which features Maxwell the Pig.

Advertising Age Player
Most Popular
In this article: