Esurance Inc. is taking a “less is more” approach to sponsorship as it looks to engage consumers in the digital realm.

The direct-to-consumer insurance company has reduced its sponsorship portfolio over the past few years from roughly 30 properties to three national platforms: Major League Baseball, South by Southwest and the NFL San Francisco 49ers—with a fourth on the way.

The crux of the strategy: gain national reach via an affiliation with properties that provide social and digital extensions.

Case in point: Roughly 90 percent of Esurance’s MLB activation is centered on digital and mobile consumption. The company engages fans through the all-digital Esurance All-Star Game Ballot and Esurance MLB Awards.

“Owning the auto insurance category at the league level gives us national reach and exposure. We have crown jewel events at the national level, which allows us to create a national message and platform,” said Chris Lee, Esurance director of brand partnerships and social engagement.

The company does not have any deals at the team level or signage in local ballparks.

“The partnership is not predicated on traditional assets. We have a huge presence at the All-Star Game, but for the remainder of the year we keep a consistent heartbeat through digital and social to be present where people consume baseball.”

In addition to the All-Star Game Ballot, Esurance activates MLB via an endorsement deal with Buster Posey. The company promotes the three-time World Series Champion through social media videos, digital display advertising and TV commercials.

Esurance is activating the second-year of the four-year MLB tie with two TV ads and three social media videos, all of which feature Posey taking a comedic take on making smart choices in order to save money. The creative supports the company’s new “Smart People Get Esurance” advertising campaign.

Lee points to three key learnings in year one of the MLB sponsorship:

MLB provides extensive reach. Esurance gained more than seven billion impressions as a result of the All-Star Game Ballot, a number that exceeded expectations.

“That is a massive number. The amount of people who engaged with us was bigger than anything we had from a sponsorship perspective over the past 10 years. We know, from a scaling standpoint, MLB is a great partner.”

Authentic content outweighs lots of content. While Esurance “dove in head first last year producing original content,” the company is taking a “less is more” approach to content in year two.

“We’re figuring out ways to generate content that is more authentic. We don’t feel like we have to constantly pump out content.”

The company will use social media influencers to amplify the content, he added.

Know when to take breaks. While Esurance uses digital content to create a “consistent heartbeat” throughout the baseball season, the company will take a brief break following the July 12 All-Star Game in San Diego.

“Baseball is a long season—how do you keep content fresh throughout the year? We took key leanings to identify pockets where we can take a break.”

The company will resume outreach around the Esurance MLB Awards, he said.

“The goal is the strengthen exposure as long as we can throughout the season, post-season and even into the off season.”

Major League Baseball replaces the USTA US Open, a tie Esurance used to bolster its position as a challenger brand via an association with American Express, Chase and other Blue Chip US Open sponsors.

The insurer dropped the sponsorship in 2015 to better engage self-directed 25-to-49-year-olds “looking for technology solutions in tune with their daily lifestyle,” said Lee.

While Major League Baseball may suffer from perceptions that it draws older consumers and struggles to draw young fans, Esurance was drawn to the league’s efforts to enhance fan engagement through digital channels.

“Fans who consume MLB digital content is our sweet spot.”

Uses SXSW To Promote Home Insurance
Esurance in 2016 leveraged its multi-year sponsorship of the music and technology confab to promote its home insurance products. The company touted home insurance—as well as other products—via an on-site build-out of a house and garage.

“We’re not just auto insurance—home insurance is a big initiative.”

Esurance launched home insurance in 2013 and has since rolled out the product in roughly 25 states, according to a company spokesperson.

Like its MLB partnership, SXSW is predicated on social and digital communication.

Esurance was one of the top five brands discussed during the event, while the #EsuranceAccess hashtag gained more reach than social media chatter around President Barack Obama’s SXSW Interactive keynote, said Lee.

Esurance’s partnership with the San Francisco 49ers affords presenting status of the Faithful 49 fan loyalty program. Fans can earn digital currency that can be redeemed for jerseys, stadium tours and other perks.

The partnership affords exclusivity in the overall insurance category with the exception of health insurance, said Lee.