Because consumers want to know about service when dealing with insurance companies– particularly unknown ones– Esurance needed to tell a brand story about customer focus. With a much smaller production budget than the competition, using expensive actors or famous spokespeople to tell this story was not an option.
However, with an animation-loving, social media-savvy target, having real customers tell their own stories through user-generated videos made a lot of sense. Using real people conveyed authenticity, truly illustrating that Esurance puts its customers in the spotlight. (Not to mention, it was truly viral.)
This innovative use of user-generated content garnered the “Get Animated” campaign a Silver Communicator Award for Best Integrated Campaign. I was the brand and creative director for the entire campaign and also wrote the TV and online commercials.
The “Get Animated” talent search helped find the next stars of the Esurance TV and online video commercials from Esurance’s own customer base. Winning customers were transformed from live action into Erin Esurance’s animated world.
Customers uploaded their homemade videos to a micro-site and then had their videos rated by the general public. (Public ratings were a factor in winner selection.). The winners were flown to San Francisco for their shoots, lodged in a nice hotel, and also got to keep their wardrobe. (Keeping the clothes seemed to be the biggest highlight for the winners, proving the eternal appeal of good stylists.)
Interactive: Email & Micro-site
Email was the only vehicle used to contact current customers regarding the contest. In separate email sends, customers were directed to upload their videos and rate posted videos. Response rates were high in terms of both video uploads and rating of other customers’ videos.
Customers were directed to this micro-site to upload and rate:
With one of its biggest competitors spending $800 million a year on advertising alone, growing Esurance’s brand awareness was a challenge. However, Esurance was lucky enough to have a Web-savvy target that made low-cost, word-of-mouth efforts very successful.
Customers who uploaded their videos activated their own social networks to ensure that their videos got rated. This viral spread of the campaign’s customer-centric message among peer networks was much more credible than pure advertising. Esurance also kept its social media placements current with updates about the talent search.
PR combined traditional pitches and press releases with rich media releases announcing the winners. Traditional PR efforts were particularly focused on winners’ hometowns and universities to further stimulate social network activity.
The creative process for the produced spots was a fantastic experience, particularly because the two winners were so enthusiastic about appearing in TV commercials. Collaborating with real customers gave real authenticity to the work and energized the brand.
One winner (Ron) happened to be an animator. The video he made contained the origins of the concept for his spots, where he draws himself into Erin Esurance’s animated world. I had him answer questions about his favorite things about Esurance and based the scripts I wrote for the spots on his answers. To the greatest extent possible, I used his words rather than ad-speak.
The completed :30 and :15 commercials were broadcast nationally on TV and online. Here’s the :30: