Is it time for Geico and Progressive Insurance to retire their gecko, cavemen and sales clerk Flo characters?
Both brands have been on a long-term downtrend in consumer perception since fall 2010 in the US, while State Farm and Allstate have eclipsed those brands riding on their own quirky campaigns.
Rivals took notice of Geico’s game-changing success, using offbeat characters and settings of cavemen and geckos as opposed to old school ads with men in suits and a deadly serious tone.
As a result, the category appears to be getting tighter with the possibility of a changing of the guard as State Farm, Allstate and even smaller player Farmers Insurance have used their own edgy marketing to outdo Geico and Progressive.
• Taking a page from the Geico playbook, Allstate introduced their gritty ironic “Mayhem” character, which appears to have helped propel the brand to its highest perception point with consumers in more than four years.
• State Farm got hipper by putting Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in weird situations with his teammates and portraying him as being stalked by “cheeseheads.” Even its latest “State of Disconnect” ad featured two guys quoting Journey lyrics to each other.
• Tiny Farmers Insurance saw its consumer perception rise when it debuted its “University of Farmers” campaign in the fall of 2010. Their perception levels are now on par with the much-bigger Progressive.
Geico, Progressive, Allstate, State Farm and Farmers Insurance were measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score, which asks respondents: “If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?”
YouGov BrandIndex measurement scores range from 100 to -100 and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.
Geico led the insurance category in consumer perception for 2008 and most of 2009 with buzz scores hovering around 25. By October 2010, they began gradually losing steam and their current score at 21.
Progressive has seen its own fortunes rise based its long-running Flo character, rising from a 12 score on January 1, 2008 to averaging around 17 until, like Geico, fall 2010. At that point, Progressive began slowly drifting down to its present 13 score.
State Farm was cruising along around 19 for 2008 until April 2009, when it began its present long-term perception ascent, leading to its current score of 26. State Farm passed Geico’s score at the end of January 2011 and they have been the category perception leader since then.
Allstate was in a regular cycle of peaks and valley from 2008 through the end of September 2011, depending on their spending activity, going as high as 19 and as low as 15. Since October 2011, Allstate has risen to its current 21, the highest it has been since the beginning of 2008, and putting them at a virtual tie with Geico.
Farmers Insurance was averaging around 6 from 2008 to mid-2009. It began its impressive ascent in late January 2010, when it started at a 5 score and moved up to its present 13 score, right where Progressive currently stands.