Back in April of 2009 I authored a post for the Marketing Profs “Daily Fix” blog about the then-developing ad campaign for Nationwide Insurance, which was reviving its long-heralded “on your side” tagline. Here are excerpts, followed by some observations to bring the story up to date.
From the April 2009 mprofs blog:
To show it means it when it says it is on your side, Nationwide is launching an integrated campaign featuring “true stories” from “real employees.” From the company’s press announcement:
- “We’re…reemphasizing -- and demonstrating -- what we mean when we say: Nationwide is On Your Side.”
- “…campaign will…[highlight]…outstanding personalized experience.”
- “Through these testimonies, the campaign shows the ends to which Nationwide will go…”
Nationwide used Academy Award winning director Errol Morris to film a reported 100 employees. Only six or so were picked for airing. After seeing the videos, I was singularly unimpressed. Nationwide missed the mark, especially given the high price tag (did I mention Errol Morris?).
Customer testimonials would have taken authenticity to a whole ‘nother level.
If Nationwide had indeed opted for customer testimonials instead of employee blathering, it could have easily trumped Geico’s nonsense (Joan Rivers, James Lipton, et al.).
The first three employee spots all begin with some type of reference as to why we hate insurance companies – what a bad idea for a set-up. Employee #1 struggles to describe what she does (“insurance stuff”). #2 talks about Nationwide’s accident forgiveness feature…which, since everyone gets it, is neither “personalized” nor “service” (see above press announcement blurb #2). Employee #3 ends his babbling with “hope I never see you again.” If this is what service means, you might do better talking about some other feature.
No competitive differentiation, no compelling benefit, no sense of what the service experience would be like, and I sure didn’t have my heart tugged out of my chest. Which you should at least do with any testimonial if you’re going to skip the first three items.
Update as of Jan 22, 2010:
Only 15 video spots are shown on Nationwide’s website. Employee #1’s spot is gone. #2 and #3 are there, but no other spots of that type remain. It seems that a course correction occurred (maybe someone at Nationwide reads Marketing Profs?). The “employee” spots that remain are now scripted vignettes about true customer stories, filmed creatively with a little pathos throw in. And there is now a recent, real customer testimonial, by a renowned NASCAR driver.