Home > NewsRelease > #130 Car Insurance TV Idiocy
#130 Car Insurance TV Idiocy
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, June 9, 2021

#130 Blog Post — Wednesday, June 9, 2021

 Posted by Denny Hatch

Absurd Automobile Insurance TV Ads:
Spewing Silly, Smarty-pants Gibberish





Continually, I am dumbfounded by the daily and nightly TV assault of cutesy-poo, smart-ass buffoonery in a feeble attempt to focus on the very serious business of auto insurance.


A Sampling of the Craziness
We All Must Endure on TV

Liberty Mutual: "Get your wet teddy bears! One hundred percent guaranteed."


Liberty Mutual: "LIMU EMU!"


Nationwide: "What did I just get into?"

State Farm: "Hey, Drake. Stand-ins don't have lines."

Progressive: "Shouldn't something, y'know wacky, be happening right now?

Geico: "I'm a gecko. Not Geico. So stop calling me!"

Allstate: "C'mon. I saw you eating poop earlier."


Why Buy Auto Insurance?
Three reasons—and three reasons only:
1. It's the law.
2. If your car is damaged, you want it fixed.
3. If you get sued, you want to come out whole.


The Obvious Message to Drivers and Car Owners
It was Rosser Reeves (1910-1984), senior copywriter for Ted Bates & Co. In 1961 Rosser wrote "Reality in Advertising." It details the basic six points for successful ads and his famous USP concept—Unique Selling Proposition.

1. The USP is the one reason 'why' the product is needed to be bought or was better than is competitors. (Not one of the above wackadoodle TV commercials mentions this.)

2.  Rosser says, 'The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer.' (Not one of the above wackadoodle TV commercials mentions this.)


3. It must be unique—either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising. (Not one of the above wackadoodle TV commercials mentions this.)


4. The proposition simply states, 'Buy this product and you will get this specific benefit.'  (Not one of the above wackadoodle TVcommercials mentions this.)


 5. The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions. (Not one of the above wackadoodle TVcommercials mentions this.) 

6. Reeves believes that the consumer tends to remember just one thing from advertising—one strong claim, or one strong comment. (Not one of the above wackadoodle TVcommercials mentions this.)
—Posted by May-Ann,


 Amazingly, one of the 16 greatest USPs—Unique Selling Propositions—is owned by Allstate:
     "You're in good hands with Allstate."
—David W. Ellis, General Sales Manager, 1950 


Alas, in the Allstate commercial—where Tiny Fey accuses her companion of eating poop—flashes the world famous "good hands" USP for 1/4th of a second at the very end.

              A Fascinating Aside is the huge heaps of
        money spent in 2019 on these appalling ads:

     Geico                  $1.618 billion

     Progressive.        $1.067billion

     State Farm         $  802million

     Allstate              $  437 million

     Liberty Mutual.    $  435million

     USAA                  $  264million


                USAA: A Serious Player in Insurance
USAA—United Services Automobile Associations—has positioned itself as the all-purpose insurer and friend of active, former and retired members of the American military establishment.

I was drafted into the U.S. Army for two years' service in 1958-1960. The country was at piece between two wars—Korea and Vietnam. I came away with a deep love and reverence for the American military. I reported for duty as a yardbird/buck private in a polo shirt, khaki pants and sneakers. Five days later we were summoned to the quartermaster warehouse and outfitted from top to bottom, inside and out, summer and winter uniforms, two pair each of dress shoes and combat boots. Never in my life—before or since—have I received so much stuff in the course of two hours. I was dazzled!

From the start I was mentored—told what to do, shown how to do it and came away with a lot of skills and knowhow that were useful throughout my entire career. Working in the Army Public Information Office, I was taught how to write press releases and wrote a ton of them. I was assigned to write, direct and narrate a documentary film on a National Guard training camp. I programmed and wrote the script for a radio series of recordings by the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra in Germany that ran on WQXR in New York. Oh, yeah, did my share of KP and oversaw prisoners from the brig doing their menial jobs. And, of course, marched in a slew of parades (which I loved, especially when the band played Sousa). And served on the Armed Forces Day committee. For me the Army was a life changing experience.

Protecting the country is serious—life-and-death stuff—to our military branches. And protecting our military men and women during and after their service is equally serious business to USAA. That said, compare these two thoroughly professional, classic TV commercials to the fatuous crap above.

USAA Auto Insurance

USAA Membership


Takeaways to Consider

• "People do not buy from clowns." —David Ogilvy

• "Your job is to sell, not entertain." —Jack Maxson

• "Every time we get creative, we lose money."
—Ed McCabe, President, RCA Record Club

• "Learn the current rules so you'll know when you are violating them. All real breakthroughs have been made by people who went outside the so-called rules of their time. In retrospect, these breakthroughs seem logical—because they have now become the new rules."
—John J. Flieder

 • Three Rules for Braking the Rules
— Play by the rules until you have solid controls; you have a higher chance of success and less risk
— Break the rules after you have solid controls, because in breaking rules, the risk—and sometimes the cost—is much higher.
— There are two ways to find a breakthrough: Play the rules better than anybody else. Break the rules better than anybody else.


• Note: USAA is a membership organization. Circulation consultant Dick Benson said if you can turn a magazine into membership organization, you'll raise response 15%. Plus it's a reason to expand and offer members great deals on add-on goods and services. This may be testing in the insurance business à la USAA.

• Check out one of my favorite blog posts: Your Toughest Copywriting Challenge: the USP





Word Count: 1016

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At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press.He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business. He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletterand archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 yearshe has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is the author of four published novels and seven books on business and marketing.


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