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Insurer tapping Super Bowl to continue ad campaign

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Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance is hoping to score again during Sunday’s Super Bowl with the latest installment in its popular “Stop Knocking on Wood” television advertising campaign.

Farm Bureau, Indiana’s second-largest auto and homeowner’s insurer behind State Farm, used the game two years ago to kick off the campaign.

Two 30-second commercials this year airing before and after the game will be broadcast throughout Indiana on affiliates of CBS, which is televising the matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.

Super Bowl advertising is among the most-anticipated elements of the televised game. Some national spots this year are fetching a record $4 million each, far more than the five-figure investment Farm Bureau has made to run its ads.

The results have been well worth the investment, the Indianapolis-based company says. Property and casualty policies written by the insurer have increased nearly 25 percent in the past two years and life insurance premiums rose almost 40 percent in 2012 alone.

Indianapolis ad agency Young & Laramore is the creative force behind the advertisements.

“The insurance industry has become very competitive,” agency President Tom Denari said. “A lot of money is being spent with our competitors, so we have to keep these fresh and entertaining, and somewhat humorous.”

Insurers spend more than $5 billion a year on personal auto insurance advertising and marketing. And just four companies—State Farm, Allstate, Geico and Progressive—account for more than half the spending, according to J.D. Power & Associates’ 2011 Insurance Shopping Study.

The creativity of the ads, featuring geckos, mayhem and a pitchwoman who charmingly stalks patrons, forced Farm Bureau to ditch its “we’re part of your life” campaign for something a little more memorable.

So the insurer tapped Young & Laramore to build brand awareness and land customers outside its leading share in the farm-owner’s market. The focus with the ads is on metropolitan areas such as Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and South Bend, said Melissa Mann, Farm Bureau’s manager of advertising and brand strategy.

“As we enter our third year, it’s really starting to establish some legs, if you will,” she said of the campaign. “When we launched, we weren’t even on the radar.”

The ads feature folks who aren’t knowledgeable about their coverage and simply hope for the best—thus the “Stop Knocking on Wood” theme.

Farm Bureau first posed real-life scenarios, such as what’s covered if an automobile is stolen or a wedding ring lost, and followed last year by quizzing consumers about their policies.

The three 30-second ads this year will tackle auto and renters' insurance and what can happen when a consumer doesn’t know what his policy covers.

In one spot, for instance, newlyweds drive away from a church in a banged-up car as the voiceover says, “If your auto policy doesn’t cover it, you might have to live with it.”

Based on the results of the past two years, Denari expects Farm Bureau to continue its partnership with Young & Laramore on the campaign.

“It really hits on the way people feel about insurance,” he said. “There are no indications that tell us, ‘Hey, this is not working.’”
   
Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance employs 1,200 people in Indiana and wrote $498 million in premiums in 2011.
 

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