While auto insurers may not like the metaphor, sponsorship activity in the insurance category shows no signs of slowing down.

As they have in the past, Allstate Corp., State Farm and other property/casualty insurers use sponsorship to engage consumers, build consideration and generate leads in a one-to-one environment.

While those objectives haven’t changed, the road to those goals has taken some twists and turns. That includes a shift from brand-specific to product-specific ties, more interest in nontraditional properties and an overall reshaping of sponsorship portfolios.

Case in point: Farmers Insurance this year broadened its portfolio with presenting status of Rascal Flatts’ U.S. tour, the company’s first deal in the music space. Farmers has significantly expanded its portfolio over the last three years with deals ranging from a 30-year, estimated $600 million naming rights deal with a proposed NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles to three-year title of a Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team driven by Kasey Kahne.

Farmers partnered with Rascal Flatts after the band performed at an internal meeting for agents. The insurer approached the musicians after hearing them perform the “We are Farmers” advertising jingle.

Farmers plans to leverage Rascal Flatts with its other sponsorships: The insurer is trying to get the musicians to attend the PGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open, said Chuck Browning, Farmers’ head of sponsorship and corporate giving, noting that two of the three primary band members are accomplished golfers.

Other companies also have reshaped their portfolios. Allstate this year broke new ground with the Allstate Life Insurance 13.1 Marathon Series, a deal that represents the insurer’s first product-specific sponsorship in more than a decade.

In another major change to its portfolio, Allstate has opted not to renew its 10-year-old partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee. The primary reason: The USOC’s short activation window.

“The Olympic platform draws a large number of eyeballs, but it is relegated to a certain time period. It did not allow us to show a return throughout the year,” said Pam Hollander, Allstate’s senior director of integrated marketing communications.

As the sponsorship industry grows in sophistication, the need for measurable results is at an all-time high, she said. But many properties still fall short in helping sponsors properly measure return on investment.

“I’m sometimes shocked at the limited amount of research our partners provide. There needs to be more onus on properties to show return.”

The lack of measurement data played a role in Allstate’s decision in 2009 leave NASCAR, around which the company served as an official sponsor of the sanctioning body and title of a Richard Petty Motorsports Sprint Cup Series team and the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“We asked our partners to show us how our dollars were being put to use, but more often than not they asked us to buy new things.”

Allstate this year also has doubled down on its long-running college football platform with a new multiyear tie with the NCAA, a partnership that will bolster the company’s involvement in football and other collegiate sports.

While Allstate continues to focus on college sports, State Farm has graduated to the majors. The country’s largest p/c insurer in 2010 announced a partnership with the NFL, adding to a portfolio that includes league deals with MLB and the NBA. The company dropped a tie to the NCAA in 2011.

State Farm also has joined other companies in the municipal marketing space. The company earlier this year announced a partnership with the New Jersey Department of Transportation, a partnership that affords branding on 52 Safety Service Patrol trucks, 120 roadside signs and other state assets.

In exchange for the branding, State Farm will provide NJDOT $1.8 million annually over each of the next three years. The company has similar partnerships with safety programs in New York, Pennsylvania and four other states.

Other insurers also are getting involved in municipal marketing. GEICO Corp. in August announced a partnership with the Virginia Dept. of Transportation, around which the company is sponsoring safe phone zones at 43 interstate rest stops. Motorists can use the safe phone zones to make phone calls, text or surf the web, all of which can result in a ticket if done while driving in Virginia.

Sources
The Allstate Corp., Tel: 847/402-5000
Farmers Insurance, Tel: 323/932-3200

 

The Allstate Corp.
2775 Sanders Rd.
Northbrook, IL 60062

Pam Hollander, senior director, integrated marketing communications
847/402-5000

Targets/Objectives/Key Activations: Second-largest U.S. property/casualty insurer uses sponsorship to reach consumers in a DVR-free environment, contemporize its brand and access promotional platforms for consumer engagement. Allstate this year expanded its portfolio with new ties to the NCAA and the Allstate Insurance 13.1 Marathon Series. Allstate partnered with the NCAA to support its “less is more” sponsorship strategy that focuses on college athletics and soccer. “Our philosophy tends to be deeper rather than broader,” said Hollander. Allstate this year opted not to renew its 10-year-old partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee, a decision driven in part by the USOC’s short activation window. Activates sponsorship to engage agents and generate leads. For example, Allstate activates college football with two mobile tailgate tours that will visit 40 games this season.

Current Deals: Title: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill.; Allstate Gospel Superfest; Allstate Life Insurance 13.1 Marathon Series; Allstate Sugar Bowl.  Cosponsor: 75 college athletic programs; AFL Chicago Rush; American Football Coaches Assn.; American Cancer Society; Big Ten Conference; Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl; Chicago Children’s Museum; Dublin Irish Festival, Ohio; Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo; Goodman Theatre; Joffrey Ballet of Chicago; Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl; Latin GRAMMY Awards; Lincoln Park Zoo; Little Caesars Pizza Bowl; Major League Soccer; Make-A-Wish Foundation; Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas; Mexican National Team; MLS Chicago Fire; NBA Detroit Pistons; NCAA; NFL Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints; NHL Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders; Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, Ill.; San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl; Sheraton Hawaii Bowl; Southeastern Conference; Southern Heritage Football Classic presented by FedEx; Steppenwolf Theatre Co.; Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl; Urban Youth Racing School; U.S. Soccer; WNBA Chicago Sky; Valero Alamo Bowl.

Additional Comments: Activates college football with the “Good Hands” field goal net program. Allstate this year is repeating “60 Seconds of Mayhem,” a national sweepstakes that dangles trips to the Allstate Sugar Bowl and other prizes. “It delivered tons of leads and ton of sales,” said Hollander. The company this year added Kirk Herbstreit as a spokesperson for the promotion. Accepts proposals at www.AllstateSponsorshipRequest.com.

 

Farmers Insurance
4680 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Chuck Browning, head of sponsorship and corporate giving
323/932-3200

Targets/Objectives/Key Activations: The ninth-largest U.S. p/c insurer has significantly expanded its portfolio over the past three years to build its brand outside its California stronghold. Recent ties include a 30-year, estimated $600 million naming rights deal for a proposed NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles, title of a Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team and presenting status of Rascal Flatts’ U.S. tour. Farmers is activating the music tour with an on-site experiential area where attendees can have their photos taken, speak with brand ambassadors and learn about the Farmers brand.  The insurer this year will leverage the Rose Parade presented by Honda with the “Love Float,” the site of a live wedding. Farmers Field has generated 11.2 billion media impressions, said Browning.   

Current Deals: Title: ATP Tour/USTA Farmers Classic presented by Mercedes-Benz; Farmers Field, Los Angeles; Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team; PGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open. Cosponsor: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta; Arizona Interscholastic Assn.; Brigham Young University Athletics; California Interscholastic Federation; Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; ECHL Bakersfield Condors; Home Depot Center, Carlson, Calif.; International Cycling Classic presented by Fields Auto Group; Kansas Speedway; Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens; March of Dimes Foundation; MLB Oakland Athletics; Michigan High School Athletic Assn.; MLS Los Angeles Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes; Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County; NBA Sacramento Kings; New Mexico Activities Assn.; NFL Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks; Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon; Park City Triathlon; Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade presented by Honda and Vizio; Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in association with PNC Bank; Sacramento State Athletics; Southwestern Athletic Conference; St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend presented by Juice Plus; University of California-Berkeley Athletics; University of Hawaii Athletics; Wichita River Festival; WNBA Los Angeles Sparks; Zach Theatre, Austin, Texas.

Additional Comments: Farmers is placing more focus on social media activation: The company is reportedly the first NASCAR sponsor to feature a Twitter hashtag on a race car. Just Marketing Int’l manages Farmers’ NASCAR program, CAA manages golf, while Culture Shop manages Farmers Field.

 

GEICO Corp.
5260 Western Ave.
Chevy Chase, MD 20076

Ted Ward, vice president of marketing 
301/986-3000

Targets/Objectives/Key Activations: While most insurers focus on several core marketing platforms, the country’s third-largest insurer takes a more opportunistic approach to sponsorship with programs ranging from NASCAR and the NHL to college athletics and community festivals. GEICO this year expanded its portfolio with a new top-tier partnership with the NBA Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center, a tie that affords naming rights to an atrium located inside the venue’s main entrance. The company this year also extended its five-year-old partnership with the Germain Racing and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Casey Mears through the 2014 season. The company supports its NASCAR program with title of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway. GEICO frequently uses on-site booths and brand ambassadors to acquire leads. Horizon Media’s Scout Sports and Entertainment helps negotiate deals and manage activation.

Current Deals: Title: GEICO 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Chicagoland Speedway; Germain Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team; Morgan Lucas Racing NHRA team. Presenting: Mylan World Team Tennis Smash Hits. Cosponsor: American Cancer Society; Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.; Army Ten-Miler, Washington, D.C.; Ashely Furniture HomeStore Pavilion, Atlanta; Assn. of Zoos & Aquariums; Atlanta Dogwood Festival presented by PNC Bank; Atlantic 10 Conference; Atlantic City Airshow; ATP/WTA Tour Citi Open, Washington, D.C.; Bataan Memorial Death March, White Sands, N.M.; BBVA Compass Bowl; Big South Conference; Brigham Young University Athletics; California State Fair; Central Connecticut State University Athletics; Chicagoland Speedway; CMA Music Festival/Fan Fair; Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre, Chula Vista, Calif.; Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; Darlington Raceway; Daytona International Speedway; Deep Ellum Arts Festival, Dallas; Food Lion Speed Street 600 Festival; Hersheypark; Homestead Miami Speedway; InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival, Texas; Macon, Georgia International Cherry Blossom Festival; Major League Fishing; Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon; Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Md.; MLB Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets and Washington Nationals; MLS D.C. United; NBA Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets; Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Hornets and New York Knicks; Mountain West Conference; Nation’s Triathlon; National Buffalo Wind Festival, Buffalo, N.Y.; NFL Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins; NHL; NHL Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche; Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and New York Rangers; Patriot League; PBA Tour; PGA Tour AT&T National; AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am; Chevron World Challenge; Franklin Templeton Shootout; Sturgis Motorcycle Rally;  X Games.

Additional Comments: Bill Brower, GEICO director of advertising, oversees NHL and other major ties. Redpeg Marketing helps activate.

 

Nationwide Insurance
1 Nationwide Plaza
Columbus, OH 43215

John Aman, associate vice president of strategic sponsorships
614/249-7111

Targets/Objectives/Key Activations: The country’s seventh-largest insurer uses sponsorship to accomplish one primary objective: drive consideration. Nationwide this year replaced its long-running title of the PGA Tour’s development tour in favor of its two-year-old presenting sponsorship of the PGA Tour Memorial Tournament. “We continue to talk to golf fans, we’re just doing it in a different way,” said Aman. The company next year will move the Web.com Tour’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship from late July to mid-September, giving the insurer a summer-long golf marketing platform. Nationwide uses the NASCAR Nationwide Tour to build preference among sponsor-loyal motorsports fans; the company supports the program with a tie to track owner Speedway Motorsports, Inc.

Current Deals: Title: NASCAR Nationwide Series, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio; Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio; Web.com Tour Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. Presenting: PGA Tour Memorial Tournament, Dublin, Ohio. Cosponsor: American Forests; Bristol Motor Speedway; Capital Pride; Center of Science and Industry, Columbus, Ohio; Central Intercollegiate Athletic Assn.; Charlotte Motor Speedway; Columbus Assn. for the Performing Arts; Columbus Zoo and Aquarium; Des Moines Arts Festival; Festival Latino presented by Honda, Columbus, Ohio; Great Texas Mosquito Festival, Clute; Iowa Speedway; Kentucky Speedway; NASCAR; Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon; NBA Dallas Mavericks; NHL Columbus Blue Jackets; Ohio State Fair; The Ohio State University Athletics; Sacramento Pride; Titanium Lacrosse; Triple-A Columbus Clippers.

Additional Comments: SMI tie includes exclusivity at Bristol Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway and hospitality at other tracks. Sponsors syndicated TV show Jack Hanna’s into the Wild and the Columbus, Ohio-based zookeeper’s national speaking tour. CIAA partnership affords exclusivity in the auto, home and life insurance categories.

 

State Farm Insurance Cos.
One State Farm Plaza
Bloomington, IL 61710

Tim Van Hoof, assistant vice president of marketing
309/766-2311

Targets/Objectives/Key Activations: The country’s largest p/c insurer uses sponsorship to accomplish two primary objectives: Promote its “good neighbor positioning” and engage customers and prospects in a one-to-one marketing environment. From a national perspective, State Farm focuses on music festivals and pro sports leagues and teams. The insurer this year expanded its music portfolio with a presenting tie to Enrique Iglesias’ summer tour. The company frequently activates sponsorship to support its “Get to a better state” brand positioning. For example, Allstate activates the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival by offering a free shuttle service to event attendees. The company this year signed a handful of local ties including presenting status of LeMay--America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Wash. and cosponsorship of the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic in Washington, D.C.

Current Deals: Title: State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships; State Farm Champions college basketball matchup; State Farm Holiday Classic co-ed high school basketball tournament. Presenting: Billboard Latin Music Conference & Awards; TBS Just for Laughs comedy festival, Chicago. Cosponsor: American Cancer Society; American Red Cross; Arizona State University Athletics; AT&T Nation’s Football Classic; Bayou Classic college football game; BBVA Compass Bowl; Big South Conference; Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Tenn.; Brigham Young University Athletics; Bumbershoot, Seattle’s Music & Arts Festival; Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Calif. Lollapalooza, Chicago; MLB Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers; MLS Real Salt Lake; NBA Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz; NFL Atlanta Falcons; NHL St. Louis Blues; On the Waterfront Festival, Rockford, Ill.; Pacific 12 Conference; Rose Bowl Stadium; South Carolina State University Athletics; Southland Conference; Taste of Cincinnati; Texas Southern University Athletics; Tom Thumb Texas Stampede, Dallas; U.S. Cellular Coliseum, Bloomington, Ill.; Ultramax Championship Series; University of Arkansas at Little Rock Athletics; University of Illinois Athletics; University of Maryland Eastern Shore Athletics; University of Minnesota Athletics; University of Northern Iowa Athletics; University of Southern California Athletics; University of Tennessee Athletics; University of Virginia Athletics; USA Basketball; Virginia Tech Athletics; West Virginia University Athletics; Western Michigan University Athletics; WNBA Phoenix Mercury; Women’s Basketball Coaches Assn.; Wyoming High School Activities Assn.

Additional Comments: State Farm this year dropped its partnership with Penn State following the arrest of retired assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

*Rankings based on net premiums written in 2011 per A.M. Best Co.